Dartford Artsmark Town was an ambitious 18-month project supporting 23 Dartford schools (over half of all Dartford schools) to achieve Artsmark status, and develop their arts, music and theatre provision offered through their school curriculum.

Building on Icon’s previous collaborations with project partners Dartford Borough Council and ROH Bridge, we secured a partnership investment from ROH Bridge with the aim of bringing about real and lasting change in cultural provision for the children of Dartford.

Participating schools took part in one of three ‘real world’ arts challenges, including composing and performing new music at the Dartford Festival (attended by over 30,000 people), developing creative designs to decorate a new Dartford bin lorry, and writing, rehearsing and performing a new theatre production at the new Outdoor Theatre in Dartford’s Central Park.

In 2015, only two Dartford schools had Artsmark status. By completion of the project in 2017 we were delighted that all 23 participating schools had achieved Artsmark status, meaning that the Dartford area now has the third highest proportion of Artsmark schools in the country.

“I learnt that art doesn’t always have to be beautiful, it can be conceptual and thoughtful. It was an incredible experience and I’m glad I took part.” – Participant, Wilmington Academy

“It’s exciting knowing my art could be shown around Dartford. I realised that anything can be used for art and I now look at the world in a different way.” – Participant, Maypole Primary School

‘Icon Theatre has given me new friends, taught me new skills and challenged my lack of self-belief’
— Community Performer
★★★★ ‘A sharp, impeccably performed and blazingly impassioned piece of theatre…simply terrific.’
— The Times
78% of the participating young people said they were more confident and had more friends as a result of the project
— Six Ways To Wellbeing, young people's wellbeing project
'Icon has been ahead of the curve in understanding that the arts have a role to play in bringing people together, helping them be heard by telling their own stories in their own way, and in the process creating a sense of pride in place and space.'
— Lyn Gardner, Theatre Journalist
★★★★ ‘It is easy to take for granted the acting skills of a top theatre company. But when actors embody characters as superbly as this, you can’t help but notice.’
— The New Statesman
‘It has been lifechanging. Lady Unchained has helped get my life changed, I’ve started to look for opportunities on the outside, and see that there is life after prison.’
— Young Artist, Cookham Wood Young People’s Theatre Programme

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