Photograph: Lisa Valder
HOW ARK BEGAN
In October 2020, Margate Synagogue was put up for auction. Four local residents, Francesca Ter Berg, Kate Gillespie, Lucy Lyons and Jan Ryan, passionate to preserve this last reminder of Cliftonville’s Jewish past, set out to save the building from demolition or commercial development.
A crowd funder was set up and thanks to huge support from local residents as well as well-wishers from around the world, the building was saved and Cliftonville Cultural Space was born.
In January 2022, we were granted charitable status (charity number 1197525) and now, supported by a board of trustees, we are embarking on the process of turning this beautiful building into a resource which will contribute to the social and cultural life of Cliftonville West.
Following generous support from our many donors and funders we are now able to open our doors as ARK while we continue to raise the necessary funds for the full renovation of the building.
OUR VISION, MISSION
Our vision is to celebrate Cliftonville as a vibrant and diverse neighbourhood by providing an accessible space which welcomes, includes and brings together its many different communities.
Our intention is to be a resource for local people as well as attracting visitors from throughout East Kent and beyond, through a relevant, ambitious and engaging cultural programme ranging across all art forms, and by co-creating work with our neighbours, making sure we respond to their voices – especially those from traditionally marginalised communities.
We will also ensure that not just the heritage of the building is preserved, but that the Jewish experience of diaspora and displacement enables us to empathise with other dispersed and displaced cultural groups. This is reflected in who we work and partner with - from Cliftonville’s Roma community to newly arrived refugees.
Above all, ARK exists to bring people together, and promote understanding and appreciation of each other’s cultures through the events we programme and the work we do in our local community.
This work is underpinned by our values - empathy, respect, inclusion, collaboration and open-mindedness. By drawing on our collective strengths, wisdom and talents, we believe Cliftonville is a better place for everyone.