As part of the New England regeneration, QED’s site hoardings became host to a ‘Graffiti Jam’, as part of the Brighton Hip Hop Festival. Over 400 artists from all over the world were invited to express their creativity through street art in a legal and very public way. It began a transformation of public opinion within the city and gave a forum for young artists to express their creativity.
"It was Chris Gilbert’s offer to donate the hoarding surrounding his development – right in the heart of the city centre, that made a bold and not uncontroversial statement about supporting artists, commented Kevin Da Costa of the Arts Council.
"But Chris has done much more than simply allow this to happen; he was fundamental in the long and arduous process of negotiating with Brighton Council, the Police and the 'Graffiti taskforce' (the anti graffiti unit), to reassure them that this would not just be safe and controlled, but would actually be a good thing for the city – challenging stereotypes and beautifying an otherwise grey space. His advocacy brought an important legitimacy to the project, without which it would have never happened.
"As a result of the first successful event, both Brighton Council and the Police forged a new understanding and dialogue with a whole community of artists where it simply did not exist before. You can now see QED’s legacy across the city, for example the now famous street art that covers Kensington Street is recognised as the most photographed tourist attraction in Brighton, rivalling even the Pavilion! That piece was commissioned by Brighton Council, produced by the artists to whom Chris had first given the opportunity. Without doubt this would never have happened before his intervention.
"QED’s support and vision goes beyond business and into a genuine desire to uplift and enrich our environment and in the process, has also connected the sometimes clinical world of development to an underground, but highly creative community of artists, whilst also changing the hearts and minds of the public, the arts policies and strategies of local government and public funders such as the Arts Council.
"On behalf of both the Arts Council, Brighton Hip Hop Festival and numerous artists that QED has supported, I'd like to thank Chris and his team and offer QED up as an excellent example of business and the Arts coming together and making our cities a better, safer and vibrant place to live."