Page 1

Joining it up: Conditions for Community and Creativity Jocelyn Cunningham


   Joining it up: Conditions for Community and Creativity     

Acknowledgements It is always a privilege in work like this to be offered a window into a place you don’t know and hear people’s reflections on things that matter to them. Hearing these stories was particularly so and there were many that did not make it into the final version. My heartfelt thanks for their generosity and time go to:

In Cinderford and the Forest of Dean: • 





•  • 





Mark Bick, a freelance musician, in long-term partnership with Artspace Khan Fox de Vere, circus co-ordinator and tutor, Artspace Sally Gibson, Artistic Director of Artspace Bernie Horlock, volunteer and participant at Artspace Annie Lapington, Chair of the Board of Trustees Ken Lomax, Trustee Sarah Sawyer, community Links Officer, Wye Valley AONB Rob Toomer, Schools Coordinator, Artspace Tess Tremlett, Officer, Health and Wellbeing, Forest of Dean District Council Hannah Elton-Wall, General Manager, Artspace The young people in the Engage Youth Circus group: Chris, Emily and Megan

In Cirencester: • 






Clare Barlett, Officer for Volunteering for Bromford Housing Association Hannah Brady, head of participation, New Brewery Arts Councillor Joe Harris, Mayor of Cirencester Paige Lillie, manager of Ozone youth group, apprentice in community development Ali Russell, Chief Executive, New Brewery Arts Daisy Trawl, apprentice, New Brewery Arts, manager of POD youth group

Strategic partners: • 




Francis Gobey, Gloucestershire County Council Pippa Jones, Director, Create Gloucestershire Matt Little, Real Ideas Organisation (RIO) Rajni Patel, Arts Council England, South West

The Local Cultural Education Partnerships programme has been made possible through the Challenge Fund of RIO and supported strategically and financially by Arts Council England.

Joining it up: Conditions for Community and Creativity written by Jocelyn Cunningham for Create Gloucestershire is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercialNoDerivatives 4.0 International licence.

Executive summary It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it It ain’t what you do, it’s the time that you do it It ain’t what you do, it’s the place that you do it And that’s what gets results –song lyrics by Melvin ‘Sy” Oliver and James “Trummy” Oliver 1939

Create Gloucestershire asked me to write a case study of their Local Cultural Education programme through the projects of New Brewery Arts and Artspace. It became immediately apparent that this was not going to be about what these arts centres were doing but how they worked with their communities.1 Sally Gibson from Artspace spoke of how vital it is to understand the whole needs of a place and respond to those needs and considering the needs of a place naturally includes those in the wider cultural sector such as libraries, museums and heritage. So it became critical to meet a range of people in Cirencester and Cinderford, some not connected directly with the cultural education projects at all and their voices inform this paper.

There are several insights that jumped out at me from all these conversations.  rts centres can be connectors at the A heart of communities, strengthening people’s sense of personal and collective identity and connectedness to each other. This is brought out in many contributions to this study but particularly so in Bernie Horlock’s words: “The great thing about this place is that you meet people that you would never meet otherwise. They’ve got different points of view, different outlooks…This space enables relationships to be easy.” (p8)  articipant-centred working leads to P high quality engagement. Arts Centres flourish locally when they are able to be responsive and flexible, explicitly valuing two-way relationships with all participants. Annie Lapington and Ken Lomax’s words highlight a person-centred approach: “Everyone gets the idea of ‘we’ll give that a go.’ If someone comes needing something, you then work out how to deliver it. We will say yes and then find a way of making it work.” (p7)

1 I use the word community to refer to a place but also the rich ways we are all part of groups with shared interests, experiences or sharing particular characteristics. 2 Emma Clarence, Madeleine Gabriel. People Helping People, the Future of Public Services. NESTA 2014.

 articipation is not linear and tidy. P Roles are fluid – young people leave communities and come back in different roles; volunteers become learners, learners become teachers. There can be a continuum of participation that crosses projects and activities throughout an organisation. As Ken Lomax says: “We are conscious of how people grow in their relationship to this organisation. From child participant to volunteer to staff member to teacher.” (p6)

Have a look at Hannah Brady’s description of a young teacher (p6) or Khan’s experience (p7).  rts centres can be ‘citizen-makers’ A when they are integrated into their communities. Ali Russell describes their project for young people as about ‘citizenship skills, how you have a voice… about understanding the complexity of working with this kind of agenda and having young people helping the whole community deal with change.’ (p4). The same conditions that enable meaningful community development also enable imaginative and creative responses to being in those communities. And the other way around: arts can enable communitymaking.  rts centres that build and reinforce A relationships across communities offer a vital resource for public service reform. If arts centres invest in long-term connections across their communities with a strong understanding of the needs of the whole community, then the leaders of services can better understand people’s motivations for engagement and build services that can wrap around the needs of the citizen. Francis Gobey points out: “When you have got trust in working with young people, then you are able to wrap services around those young people.” (p9)  ffective partnership working E necessitates trust not only between the partner organisations but between those participating in their programmes. As Clare Bartlett highlights: “It is all about trust and I need to trust other organisations to keep the door open for young people, especially vulnerable young people. You need to know who you are passing on to.” (p9) If public services need to be redesigned to make mobilizing the energy and contribution of the public a core organising principle, as NESTA’s recent paper on the future of public services2 suggests, then this must include centres such as these. The stories in this case study indicate how much strong practice in an arts centre can be actively shaped by the participants and the community around it and models a way of being in a community. Rather than projects set up to deliver social outcomes such as wellbeing, these outcomes can be a natural consequence of a trusting and positive

environment. Dame Liz Forgan, before she left her role as Chair of Arts Council England in 2012 said: “We must find partners we never knew we had.” Frequently this is applied with regard to funders, rather than others in our communities. How do we find those ‘unlikely’ partners when we are so stretched for time?

Local commissioners: Are there perspectives about local needs that arts practitioners might have that enhance your own? How can these arts based networks enable change for your service, not just in commissioning for delivery but also as models of ways of working that could generate change?

Investment in long-term relationships has worked well for Artspace and New Brewery Arts and this has necessitated a willingness to take risks that perhaps these relationships won’t pan out into projects or further funding. But this approach is rewarded with an organisation becoming embedded into the fabric of a place – visible and trusted. Hannah of Artspace highlighted their approach of “understanding what is appropriate right now with these partners and not be precious about the arts.”

Funders: How could funding structures take the ‘local’ into account? How can the cultural community’s capacity for strengthening the ‘glue’ of a place be highlighted and effectively resourced? How can the mechanisms of funding reflect the nuance of partnership work? How can funders work together to help break down the silos of delivery that include the cultural sector?

Networks like Create Gloucestershire are vital in supporting arts centres and their practitioners, and play a vital role as broker, enabler and potentially, as a visionary lead for collaborative working. As there is such a heartfelt thread running through these voices in Cinderford and Cirencester of the importance of arts organisations and practitioners working hand-in-hand with their communities, I conclude with some thoughts on how this might happen at a local, regional and national level. But there are also implications for arts practitioners, arts organisations, local commissioners, funders and even initiatives. I’ll offer these in the form of questions to reflect upon that have no simple answer but through the act of finding out, can bring about positive change.

For all: Who is missing from your conversations? If indeed, we are talking about children and young people without them being a part of this conversation, we miss a valuable resource in our thinking and imagining. How can we build networks that have a generosity of spirit, with real and practicable impact? Such networks will be places that people want to be. The cornerstones of positivity, collegiality and generosity cannot be underestimated.3 To simply see this time of change as an opportunity to bid for commissions in the public sector would miss the remarkable opportunity of being at the table itself and being part of the change. We do not have to have all the answers but we do need to be alongside others in asking the questions.

Practitioners: Who are your natural and/ or unlikely allies? Who is doing similar work and how might you add value to theirs or theirs for yours? How are you finding out the needs of the people taking part in your programme (beyond the ones the project is set up to address)? Are there possibilities to connect participants across your projects in a place? Is there a bigger conversation that might happen and be interesting? Arts organisations: What are the needs of the whole place you are situated in (as opposed to what is being funded)? How are you a part of local governance mechanisms? Are you in the room with people making decisions or creating social action? How can you engage with these through networks and alliances? What is your unique place in the cultural ecosystem and how do you add benefit to others in it?

3 Courtesy of David Lan, Artistic Director of the Young Vic, his speech at the What Next conference in London April 2013. watch?v=oPYpWRDeWNU


   Joining it up: Conditions for Community and Creativity     

Contents Introduction  8 Making art everyday  9 Cultural Education Partnerships  9 Two towns  11 Two projects  11 Being at home  12 A continuum of participation  13 Passing it on  14 A set of ingredients  16 Next steps  18 The bigger picture  20 Appendix  21


4 Rachel Blanche. Insights for Employers, commissioners and funders in facilitating quality impacts through participatory arts. ArtWorks, Paul Hamlyn Foundation 2014. 5 R Hewison, J Holden, S Jones. All together: a creative approach to organisational change. DEMOS 2010.


This is a tale of two arts centres in rural Gloucestershire with a town at their hearts. It was intended to be about two projects that the arts centres were doing with young people in their towns, however, learning from these projects and the people involved in the wider delivery of the arts centres extended significantly beyond the making of art and into place and policy shaping. It became about a way of being and working in a place alongside others, especially those at different ages and stages of life.

the way many arts organisations work and helping to make society work? Michael Boyd, ex-artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, perceived that creating the conditions for creativity also created the conditions for community. ‘We have found that this approach to theatremaking both enables and requires a set of behaviours worth looking at, because they create our conditions – what we call the conditions for creativity. And they also create the conditions for community.’5

Artspace in Cinderford in the Forest of Dean and New Brewery Arts in Cirencester see themselves as facilitating spaces for creativity and empowerment for their whole communities. As a result of this ethos, it was important to interview a wide range of people involved with each centre as well as those deeply connected to their community. Their voices will weave throughout this paper and illustrate the critical importance of a diverse range of interconnecting relationships in a place and how this interconnection then empowers young people. Their work identifies a set of ingredients that can position an arts centre at the heart of a community, and build a new community of practice, be this within cultural activities, community development or in provision of services for children and young people.

Both Artspace and New Brewery Arts, in different ways and in contrasting environments are creating the conditions for community.

The way the cultural community is thinking about quality is changing. The perception of quality of arts provision for children and young people is often limited to the artist and fails to appreciate the environment of that work. A recent report from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation identified the need for recognising the interconnectedness of decision makers: ‘while artists are at the forefront of delivering arts work and interventions with participants, a great many other wider dynamics directly affect the quality of the experience of those who are engaged ‘in the room’. These dynamics are often controlled by partner organisations or employers who are not directly involved in delivering the arts work and who typically have a different relationship to participants than that of the artist interacting creatively with them.’4 Time pressures make it a challenge to take account of the wide variety of stakeholders in work with children and young people and build relationships with other providers, especially if these relationships do not necessarily led to immediate funding advantages. What is the synergy between

   Joining it up: Conditions for Community and Creativity     

‘The way the cultural community is thinking about quality is changing.’

Making art everyday Create Gloucestershire is a four-year-old cultural network in Gloucestershire that is committed to ‘making arts everyday’. It has over 100 members that cut across the cultural spectrum in the county from museums to publishing to arts organisations to individual artists of any artform. Indeed, the learning and voices in this paper apply to the wider cultural provision of libraries, museums and heritage sector. This coalition membership organisation enables Create Gloucestershire to address a broad range of arenas such as commissioning within health services, apprenticeships and social care as

well as support for members through action learning sets and developing expertise in new funding models. It describes itself as a ‘collaborative laboratory for change’ and this approach shaped the initial planning for the cultural education partnership programme. There have been many projects with young people in the Local Cultural Education Partnerships programme and these are described in the Appendix.

Cultural Education Partnerships Cultural Education Partnerships are springing up all over the country as a result of the Henley Review of 2012 and 2014,6 which recommended a greater alignment of resources and activities and a more inclusive view of cultural provision for children and young people at a local level. Create Gloucestershire decided to explore cultural education partnerships in such a way that enabled new ideas and structures to emerge from the participating partners as opposed to a strategic plan being implemented (from the top down). In order to try this innovative approach, the network needed strategic support, from Arts Council England and the Bridge organisation in the South West, the Real Ideas Organisation (RIO) and continuing relationships with the local authority. There were 6 other projects with young people in the Local Cultural Education Partnerships programme and these are described in the Appendix. The Local Cultural Education Partnerships programme (LCEP) has developed as an organic process – it has been allowed to grow through the individual needs of the places in which it has been delivered. Pippa Jones, Director of Create Gloucestershire wished to avoid the danger of a series of piecemeal projects that did not necessarily relate to each other across the network. Her ambition was to join up work with children and young people, inside and outside schools, formal and informal provision and in arts and non-arts pieces of work.

The LCEP was set up to address three key areas: 1. Establishing an ethos of equality of access that can challenge the postcode lottery where high quality cultural education is more accessible for some 2. Instilling cultural habits at an early age, prioritising early years education 3. Encouraging the wider signposting for progression into cultural careers and supporting the mechanisms that enable this All three strategic partners in the LCEP, Pippa Jones of Create Gloucestershire, Matt Little of RIO and Rajni Patel, the Arts Council England South West Manager for Children, Young People and Learning, have been committed to the programme not becoming another bureaucratic structure that fails to enable those taking part to build their own approaches with flexibility and ownership. Matt Little stressed the importance of a cultural education model not becoming ‘a thing’: ‘We need to be careful that we don’t settle on CEPs as a static ‘thing’ or structure, with participants to be ticked off on a list, that we think will organise, increase opportunity and improve quality simply by existing, as this rarely happens. Life is a bit more complicated than that, and cultural opportunity for young people isn’t something that can be tidily organised in this way.’ This approach suggests a distinct shift from the usual practice of designing the model

6 Darren Henley. Cultural Education in England. Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2012. 2014.

   Joining it up: Conditions for Community and Creativity   


prior to implementation that is then rolled out into different delivery partners. It was motivated by learning where the appetite, passion and commitment was in working with young people. It was committed to the need to alter the traditional project delivery model of ‘the structure leading the delivery’ to ‘what did good delivery need to take it further, embed it and support it?’ Strategic partners were keen to learn of new sustainable business models that might enable a vibrant cultural education offer. This approach also enabled discovery as Pippa Jones explained: ‘We would have missed potential leaders, new partnerships and rich ideas at a local level if we had just implemented a top down approach.’ The LCEP programme was designed to enable delivery partners to explore a model that made sense for them, their area and the young people they worked with. Partners wishing to take part were required to find match funding from a non-arts partner, meet regularly to draw out their learning and have a commitment to the work being led by the children or young people involved. The fact that Create Gloucestershire had invested in building relationships with locally based arts organisations and education providers over a period of four years was a crucial element of its success.

‘It was motivated by learning where the appetite, passion and commitment was in working with young people.’

7 Emma Clarence, Madeleine Gabriel. People Helping People, the Future of Public Services. NESTA 2014.


There is an increasing emphasis on the wider conditions that are necessary for achieving quality provision and these conditions almost always refer to the strength of relationships, whether this is with regard to well being, community resilience, sustainability, economic growth or in the case of the LCEP, equality of access for children and young people. Arts organisations and networks who are able to demonstrate strong, longterm relationships across communities (and not just those who use their centres) can be a vital resource for public services. NESTA’s recent report, People Helping People7 identifies the challenge for services in not knowing how to connect citizens: ‘…public services are not, on the whole, oriented around mobilising people to help each other. Job centres for example, give few opportunities for people who’ve successfully found work to support others into jobs. The time available for GP consultations leaves little room for doctors to engage with patients and to explore the opportunities in the wider community that could improve their health and wellbeing.’ Arts centres and networks with these relationships are positioned to be an invaluable resource.

   Joining it up: Conditions for Community and Creativity     

Economic pressures, as a result of funding constraints, can influence this negatively through entrenchment that further cements the silos of provision (be this in arts organisations, schools or public services). But they can also influence positive change with the recognition that collaboration across a service and across a place not only can be cost efficient but just better for the young person. Frequently there is lip service paid to the latter while silos of practice just get deeper. If cultural education delivery is too focused upon the value of individual projects, the wider benefits are missed and these projects can fall victim to the dominant economic paradigm of only valuing what can be monetised. The multiple contexts in which work for children and young people happens must be acknowledged and understood. Too often context is only seen in the superficial terms of deprivation; a lack of jobs, a lack of cultural provision and further investigation into the assets of a place that make up a ‘felt’ identity is neglected. The LCEP work with Artspace and New Brewery Arts uncovered the more ephemeral qualities of how these centres interact with their communities and young people.

Two towns Cirencester is almost double the size of Cinderford and sits within a significantly more advantageous socio-economic environment. Both carry a strong sense of place and feel rooted in their histories. In one, you could purchase a home at a bargain rate (in relation to national standards), the other would require well above average income. This of course influences the flow of young people; in Cinderford, as long as you can find a job, it’s possible to live independently whereas in Cirencester, as a young person, you simply have to leave town unless you live

at home. In both places there are imminent new housing developments. Both are about 15 miles to the nearest city of Swindon or Gloucester, although Cinderford would be much more isolated in terms of the proximity to other towns and cities and provision of public transport. Both arts centres have been established in their towns for 25 to 35 years and have recently collaborated on projects together.

Two projects For the purposes of this project, New Brewery Arts was interested in embedding creativity into the new local housing plan, and strengthening relationships with other strategic partners such as Bromford Housing Association and the Town Council. The project wished to enhance the skills of young people and the arts centre in conducting a creative consultation process. Young people from local schools were invited into the early stage of development planning. After a series of workshops that conceived a ‘dream town’, the public was asked to consider what would need to be a part of an ideal town at the recently created youth-led music Phoenix Festival. This led to the creation of POD, a youth-led group of 11 to 19 year olds facilitated by a young creative apprentice that is funded in part by the Cotswold District Council. Next steps would consider how this group can connect with other formal and informal youth groups in the town and continue to influence the town development. Chief Executive, Ali Russell described the project: ‘It’s about citizenship skills, how you have a voice, how you negotiate as ‘adults to adults’ for space, with artists and with the public. Its about understanding the complexity of working with this kind of agenda and having young people helping the whole community deal with change.’ Ali is committed to the long-term engagement with Cirencester and intent on New Brewery Arts (NBA) playing an active role within the community; she sits on the local stakeholder’s group for the housing

development and the arts centre hosts the annual Chamber of Commerce Christmas event. A strong working relationship with the Mayor of the town is an important element of this approach, especially given his commitment to young people. Councillor Joe Harris is the Mayor of Cirencester and also sits on Gloucestershire County Council. At the age of 21 Cllr Harris is the youngest mayor in the U.K. and represents a ward with the oldest demographic in Gloucestershire. He has been instrumental in setting up the Phoenix Festival and has an ongoing commitment to developing intergenerational work.‘I was interested in things that gave young people responsibility. You need the patience to give people the opportunity and believe they can do it. It makes all the difference. Young people need role models, especially young men. You need to spend time and hang out with them.’ Artspace’s project is re-framing their work as an enterprise centre for young people in the Forest of Dean. The project had three strands of focus, each connected to a single vision – that of young people leading on resolving their own development needs as young artists and accessing the resources that Artspace could offer such as exhibition space. It worked across age groups from primary through to young adults and was match funded from different sources as a result. One of these strands is the ongoing Emerging Artists programme, led by a 19-year-old artist who has grown up alongside many programmes at Artspace.

   Joining it up: Conditions for Community and Creativity   


Artistic Director Sally Gibson, describes how Artspace works: ‘It’s about understanding your place and its needs and being able to be responsive to that. This is a small town but there are lots of different needs so it’s about reaching out to each of those groups and if we fail to reach them, we have not served the needs of the whole community. It’s a patchwork kind of approach. We were picking up young people when they returned to Cinderford –most of them were already known to us. We wanted to provide for young artists – 18 to 25 year olds and let the opportunity be dictated by them. We could offer support in any form they felt they needed, be this money for equipment, exhibition space, or work experience. These

are the artists of the future, we need to be providing for them. It’s how it works here. The older ones pass on their experience to the younger ones – our intervention is greater or lesser depending on the young people and what they want to achieve.’ I interviewed a wide range of people, all participants within New Brewery Arts and Artspace or in work with children and young people in these towns, many more than can be attributed here. Their names are in the acknowledgements.

Being at home Mark Bick is a musician and music teacher who has grown up in the Forest of Dean and has worked in partnership with Artspace for over 12 years. ‘Relationships matter in Cinderford. Artspace has a strong philosophy of valuing everyone equally. This means that people who struggle with selfconfidence or feel excluded are able to feel genuinely welcomed and that their creativity is valued. People work together and learn from each other. The atmosphere and culture of Artspace enables everyone to feel that they belong.’ Mark underpinned the valuing of people as a key attribute rather than the transformative role of the arts that is more commonly referenced. ‘The culture at Artspace is not bounded by the arts, stuff that’s labeled arts. It is about your identity being valued, you are accepted.’ Many of the young people I interviewed spoke of ‘feeling at home’. Megan is 18 and part of Engage, the circus programme at Artspace. She finishes her A levels this


   Joining it up: Conditions for Community and Creativity     

year and then wants to use her gap year to volunteer at Artspace. ‘I was very shy, but the more I’ve performed the more confident I have gotten. People here are just so accepting. I coached last summer – I know what works and this helps me help others. Artspace is like a second home to me. I wear whatever I want. They make sure you are ok. I am really interested in the social side of circus skills and would like to be a teacher and coach.’ Both organisations share a commitment to their capacity to respond positively to whoever walks in the door and the need to be flexible throughout their programming. But it is also about feeling comfortable and safe as Megan and others highlight.

A continuum of participation Hannah Brady, Head of Participation at New Brewery Arts (NBA) sees a particular strength of their provision to be within the breadth of courses on offer that can enable a ‘tasting’ through a single workshop, through to professional mentoring and career pathways. This means that someone can mix and match these opportunities according to personal development. The thread of feeling safe and valued runs throughout Hannah’s description of a participant: ‘A young teacher joined our Creative Pathways programme that is free of charge. She had recently left teaching, having experienced a personal tragedy and had high anxiety issues. Through this programme, she became interested in communication skills through clay and helped to deliver a project in a care home with which New Brewery Arts has a longterm relationship. She then paid to take part in a stained glass workshop and was funded to take part in the Artisan course, which is about building a business in craft. This programme had a final showcase and she showed her work and was invited onto the next iteration of the programme (which was invitation only). I have been mentoring her through these programmes. She is now looking at long-term aims, something she had felt previously was not possible. What’s more, she is talking about returning to teaching, but this time as an artist. I really believe in projects that can be life-changing and can give ownership and responsibility for a thriving young generation of artists, especially with those who might not have those opportunities.’ This story of participating across the organisation is common to both organisations. It describes a continuum of participation that crosses activities and roles. Often provision for children and young people is limited to a linear view of progression however, as the work in these arts centres illustrate, roles are fluid and ever changing. This approach may be increasingly more common, however arts organisations may not perceive this fluidity as an asset and fail to proactively work with this. Educational partnerships have tendencies to perceive progression as a linear route and fail to notice the rich and complex routes that people take in engaging with an arts centre. Long-term studies would reveal this.

conscious of how people grow in their relationship to this organisation. From child participant to volunteer to staff member to teacher. You can walk through a career with the organisation and we facilitate this consciously. Everyone gets the idea of ‘we’ll give that a go.’ If someone comes needing something, you then work out how to deliver it. We will say yes and then find a way of making it work.’ Annie and Ken also identified the opportunities that Artspace has had to establish a strong presence beyond the centre. ‘Because our premises were so limited in the past (before the current home) we were forced to go out to other premises to work like care homes, village halls. And we just stayed. We are much bigger than we appear to be because we are doing stuff out there.’ A strong presence throughout a community or in Artspace’s example, a regional area enables a breadth of provision and as a result, a breadth of partners. This can strengthen Mark’s earlier point of it not being seen as only about the arts. Hannah EltonWall is the General Manager at Artspace: ‘We work with people of any age or ability, from under fives right up to older people in residential care. We also cover a broad range of artistic subjects. This means lots of avenues of work and funding are potentially open to us. The Forest is a dynamic place in terms of partnership-working.  Strong partnerships form through existing networks and forums. Artspace has developed fantastic relationships, over the years, with other local organisations and services.  Our USP is our approach to inclusivity, people of different ages, backgrounds, skills sets or disabilities all work alongside each other – we are able to provide a setting for people to meet, where otherwise their paths might never have crossed.  We work with practitioners who are able to ensure that everyone can participate and achieve on an equal footing. That’s what really makes Artspace tick.’

‘I really believe in projects that can be lifechanging and can give ownership and responsibility for a thriving young generation of artists, especially with those who might not have those opportunities.’

Trustees Annie Lapington and Ken Lomax are long-term local residents. ‘We are

   Joining it up: Conditions for Community and Creativity   


Passing it on Provision for the benefit of young people does not only lie within targeted work for young people but also in the development of an environment that includes people of all ages. The cascade of learning model at Artspace where all participants are encouraged to be teachers is a good example of this. Khan Fox de Vere teaches circus skills with the Engage Youth Circus group at Artspace and is the mother of two participants. ‘Every single child is taught to teach, regardless of age. A new kid comes in the class and someone will say why don’t you try it like this? It is in their nature to look after different people.’ Khan’s entry into teaching illustrates the fluidity of roles as well as the nature of exchange between teaching and learning. ‘I kind of fell into it because my son was doing it. We lived a little distance away so I stayed during the class and before I knew it, I started helping out a little. I watched as a mum and thought – I’d really like to have a go. I started learning with the kids – then someone left and I became a support tutor. By now both my kids were in classes and I started training with Sally. The training with Sally became about an exchange – I have a background in biology and I was teaching Sally about muscle groups. I asked her: “What do you need to do this kind of work?” and she said “enthusiasm.” I became a tutor and now I go to work to play.” These stories indicate how much strong practice in an arts centre can be actively shaped by the participants and the community around it and be a way of being in a community. Rather than projects set up to deliver social outcomes such as well being, these outcomes can be a natural consequence of a trusting and positive environment. Bernie Horlock is retired from a lifelong career in IT and volunteers at Artspace and is a participant in several classes. ‘The great thing about this place is that you meet people that you would never meet otherwise. They’ve got different points of view, different outlooks, everything. This space enables relationships to be easy – everyone is treated the same – like the AGM


   Joining it up: Conditions for Community and Creativity     

where people with learning difficulties are heard equally. It’s completely opened up my mind and expanded my outlook. Last summer I started woodcarving and being outdoors more. I can’t say this is directly because of Artspace but coincidentally I started to look around for all sorts of things in life to do. I read more books, go for more walks. The sense of loss I used to have is completely gone and now I think: what am I going to do next? I feel that this place was the tipping point in my life. I came along to do arts stuff and then everything changed. Even if Artspace is not the cause, it is certainly the foundation on which I have been able to expand, without a doubt.’ Of course, Bernie’s comments are the kind of testimony any organisation would want, especially given the current shift of attention to preventative health care and well being, but what I find illuminating is that it is not a particular class or inspirational teacher he is highlighting but the way the place works. The same kind of attention to process and environment was stressed in my meetings with Clare Bartlett. Clare has grown up in Cirencester and is the Officer for Volunteering for Bromford Housing Association and sits on the Youth Town Council and the Cirencester Community Development Trust. She also set up the Ozone Youth Group, which works with NBA on particular projects. ‘Cirencester is my home – where I will live my life and bring up my kids. I have investment in this place. My school didn’t bother about the students who didn’t get the A to C’s. If you want something you have to go and get it. Part of what we all do here at Ozone is model behaviour like saying hello to strangers. The other big thing is resilience – encouraging young people to keep going, even if someone says no.’ Clare also values flexibility in responding to individual needs. Paige is 19 and on a year’s apprenticeship with Clare. She had enjoyed the volunteering within community work and Clare created the apprenticeship for her to develop this skill. Paige now manages the Ozone group and does marketing for the Phoenix Festival. ‘I started off on this because I simply needed people to talk to. I didn’t trust my school. Teachers didn’t have

the time. I’ve learned so much from doing this other than school – learning from Clare, from doing applications, going to meetings, learning how to work with people and from feeling supported.’ Working with trust in supportive environments is all very well within an organisation that you can influence but is much more challenging when you are working in partnership and across services. As Clare points out: ‘It is all about trust and I need to trust other organisations to keep the door open for young people, especially vulnerable young people. You need to know who you are passing on to.’ This emerging Local Cultural Education Partnership offers valuable lessons for public services, especially with rapidly decreasing resources. Francis Gobey is the Outcomes Manager for Youth Support in Gloucestershire County Council. ‘When you have got trust in working with young people, then you are able to wrap services around those young people. As a community of people working with children and young people, it’s not just a question of spending money but also about a consensus of understanding on how we can work together to spend that money.’

‘It is all about trust and I need to trust other organisations to keep the door open for young people, especially vulnerable young people. You need to know who you are passing on to.’

   Joining it up: Conditions for Community and Creativity   


A set of ingredients These words and stories illustrate a shared community of practice in which the learning emerges from the doing. These ingredients are not limited to rural towns but also would be familiar conditions for making happy cities with their emphasis on the local. Similar characteristics from both NBA and Artspace would be: 1. the openness and flexibility of the programme to respond to the people who come in the door and their needs. This requires taking the time to build the relationships, taking the risk that mutual benefit will arise. You don’t necessarily know where it is going or what the exchange might generate. This approach is often applied to partnership building but can be missed in considering the relationship to participants in a programme or volunteers in our organisations. 2. a continuum of participation that crosses projects and activities throughout an organisation. Roles in these projects are fluid; volunteer becomes learner, learner becomes teacher. There were more rich stories of progression than I could fit into this short paper. Hannah at Artspace highlighted the importance of strategic people being an intrinsic part of delivery. She plays a direct part of the day to day running of the building. Sally is teaching in the evening. This means staff are a direct part of relationships and have a deeper grasp of needs. This of course, has capacity challenges but indicates a set of values that can permeate the organisation and invites credibility within the wider community. 3 Both are connected across the community and have a deep sense of being connected to that place. All three ingredients are core to building trust, not only between those active in an organisation but also for its wider profile in the community. Both centres are outward looking. Ideas and plans arise through projects that then are allowed to flower elsewhere. Attention is paid to growing relationships between people that ‘help make a place tick’, not just with the ‘usual suspects’.


   Joining it up: Conditions for Community and Creativity     

‘If an organisation truly values the existing creativity, interests and motivations of the young people who come to it and nurtures and builds upon this creativity, then the intrinsic creative motivation of those individuals is kept intact.’

It is an act of faith to set aside time for this in such a way that openly explores new intersection points as opposed to fitting partners into existing plans or only aligning for funding opportunities. However, there is potential for long-term gain, which can create valuable unintended outcomes. It has the additional benefit of reducing risk, as a result of being anchored in a place and being a part of its ‘whole’ provision for young people. Remember Clare’s caution in wanting to be sure she could trust those she passes young people on to. This approach, although time consuming, is essential for sustainability and possibly, even critical to an organisation’s survival. Mark Bick refers to how this sustainability is essential for young people and their creative development: ‘If an organisation truly values the existing creativity, interests and motivations of the young people who come to it and nurtures and builds upon this creativity, then the intrinsic creative motivation of those individuals is kept intact. This then ensures that they continue long term in creative practice of some kind. Creative quality comes out of long-term processes of creation, review and re-creation.’

The motivating factor with those I spoke to at Artspace was the shared belief in the difference made to people. I suspect that in this current funding climate we all focus on articulating the difference made to funders but I wonder about the opportunities of articulating this within the places we work that could in turn, enable shared agendas and desired outcomes. Francis Gobey spoke of the advantages of networks like Create Gloucestershire have in: ‘strengthening the relationships between organisations and enabling other networks and services working with young people to see how organisations can really support each other, not just duplicate projects.’ Networks that cross artforms and are rooted in places can offer a profile that enables local public services to recognise the benefits of working across silos and towards shared outcomes. In order to offer inspiration for public services we need to work together better and join things up ourselves.

People interviewed offered valuable insights that considered the relationship between values and the offer of activity. In many cases, this seemed indivisible. These stories have been about new ways of working within a place. Donald Smith, Director of the Scottish Storytelling Centre writes on the importance of moving beyond economic growth as a factor of value8: ‘Here the languages and practices of art have a path finding role. Whether by giving voice to the alienated and oppressed or by fashioning new sensibilities and spiritualities of human belonging, artistic activity could seed vital patterns even amidst destructive chaos. But if we are to move in that direction then we need to stop talking about ‘the arts sector’ or ‘the creative economy’ as if imagination was primarily a tool for economic growth. Instead we have to start singing, acting, writing, designing and dancing about what moves us most deeply and matters most to our common humanity.’

‘In order to offer inspiration for public services we need to work together better and join things up ourselves.’

8 The Art of Life: Understanding how participating in arts and culture can affect our values. Mission, Models Money and Common Cause 2013

   Joining it up: Conditions for Community and Creativity   


Next steps This LCEP programme arose from the Create Gloucestershire principles of starting with the practice and then growing an infrastructure that responds to the needs of the practice as it evolves. Rajni Patel of Arts Council England feels that the LCEP has already produced a legacy – with a model that is continually changing (‘because this is how partnership works’), however it is vital that the model and approach is understood and communicated well in order to enable others to draw upon this learning and make it their own. Hannah Brady at NBA referred to the urgency of network-working: ‘We have a culture of being siloed in the arts and are continually reinventing the wheel and dominated by the seeking of funding. We need to get to a point where we openly share what we do across our region. If we don’t help each other and support each other we will all fold one by one.’ Both NBA and Artspace evidently focus upon the quality of the ‘whole experience’ of participants, but there are real challenges in understanding how the holistic practices of working within a place can influence other places, organisations and services. How does this community of practice and expertise influence wider cultural practice and provision for children and young people? Matt Little refers to the need for increasing ‘the scope for cultural education partnership working’ (therefore seeing CEPs as an ongoing process, delivered through a wide range of networks). The emphasis is on all of us involved in this ecology in some way to do what we can to increase our collective impact, efficiency and effectiveness on behalf of young people.’ If we regard the next steps as about engaging with a wider community, both within cultural networks and with public services then we can start to conceive a picture of working in these ways at a local and regional level.

9 Susanne Burns. Reflections on developing practice in participatory settings. ArtWorks. phf.2015.


   Joining it up: Conditions for Community and Creativity     

The following recommendations have arisen from all the conversations in this paper: 1. Connecting participants and especially young people active in different groups and at different stages and ages in both arts and non-arts activity It is clear that cultural education work is so very much more than projects but we all still seem to share the projects from an arts perspective. What if Mayor Harris, Megan, Paige or Bernie were also in the room reflecting? Would this not make a difference to how we understand the work and develop the skills in talking about it? The recent report by ArtWorks from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation9 affirmed the increasingly accepted belief that ‘better partnerships working across public bodies, funding agencies, policy makers, further and higher education providers, employers, commissioners and artists will generate a more effective infrastructure of support in the future.’ The missing group in this list is the people who use services, those who take part in initiatives, those who participate in arts programmes, citizens young and old – a group that is continually omitted from the development of initiatives and perceived only as ‘beneficiaries’. How do we hear about the needs of young people in a place? The mistake traditional consultancy makes is the superficial gathering of people’s views and needs. People don’t necessarily know their own needs beyond the most urgent when asked and surveys are not constructed for nuance. As arts practitioners know, aspirations, needs, frustrations, inspirations and personal assets are discovered through working together creatively. Understanding the complexity of young peoples’ lives arises from regular and everyday kind of contact. But sometimes this isn’t listened for and then, if these things are noticed, sometimes not taken further. The advantages that would arise from a more direct and deeper understanding of the contextual and personal needs of young people would be invaluable for all those connected with children and young people. Strong arts practice with young people can reveal needs that would be of benefit to those in public services who are keen to break down silos of provision and better understand what shared outcomes for young people might be in a local area.

A peer-to-peer approach is recognized as a fundamental lever for change. Developing a strand of work that brings young people together across projects in the LCEP would place them in the centre of reflection and engagement. A commitment to doing this over time would enable a very strong picture to emerge that is shaped by the very people it is meant to represent. 2. Looking sideways The IPPR report, Many to Many10 recognises what they call the ‘relational state’, defined as a state that does things with its people rather than simply for or to its people (Mulgan 2012). Relational practice is a precondition for the environments of Artspace and New Brewery Arts. Participants have continually referred to how their participation in arts activities brings additional meaning and purpose to their lives – a remarkable dimension to work with children and young people if this is perceived as working across a locality. Public service reform increasingly perceives provision as about interconnected services. Muir and Parker recommend two essential approaches, those of ‘connect’ and ‘deepen’ in order to ‘tackle complex problems… that are more interconnected at the macro level and that provide for deeper relationships at the micro level.’ If cross sector working is going to be realised, it needs to be realised within places like Cinderford and Cirencester. It needs to welcome the voices of those who are not in delivery roles and ensure that these voices can have a meaningful role. And for this to happen, arts centres who are closely linked across their communities will play a vital role as broker, enabler and potentially, as a visionary lead for collaborative working. Supportive networks like Create Gloucestershire can be vital in encouraging this and provide a platform for the necessary multiplicity of voices to be heard. Rather than merely seeing commissioning opportunities in public services as funding opportunities, the cultural community could lead on the front foot through building and taking an active role in cross sector networks at a local level. The resulting learning and cross pollination would help projects embed in their communities.

3. Paying attention to who is not in the room One of the challenges of work with young people is that we often attract those who are already curious or engaged with the arts or those who are targeted for whatever reason by teachers or other providers. How do we reach those not identified? In Nabeel Hamdi’s book,The Placemakers Guide to Building Community11, Hamdi has an entire chapter dedicated to the ‘invisible stakeholder’ and reflects on his own learning: ‘The lesson I took away from that day was simple: be aware there are people out there you may not see, who are invisible as much to me as I to them…(and) ask myself whether or not I am slipping back into my comfort zone, to check whether I am engaging with the whole community, not just talking to people I get along with, only the ones I find interesting, or who will give me answers I want to hear.’ I would add a further question, given the funding climate of the arts: do I only respond to those who fund the work?

Within the cultural education agenda, there could be three distinct levels for realising these three approaches: 1. At a local level: groups of young

‘Strong arts practice with young people can reveal needs that would be of benefit to those in public services who are keen to break down silos of provision and better understand what shared outcomes for young people might be in a local area.’

people could link with other local youth groups not engaged as directly with the arts. For example, in Cirencester, the POD group (NBA’s youth-led group) could work with the Ozone group and/or the Youth Town Council.

2. At a regional level: youth forums could be generated across the Create Gloucestershire network. The points of connection could be varied; age, project focus, artform focus, heritage or library focus, concept or campaign focus or sub regional groupings. It would be vital to ensure that there is genuine synergy and that participants themselves see a value in getting together. If these two key elements were in place, then it would be beneficial to sustain this group or groups over time as opposed to a single event. 3. At a national level: as cultural education programmes mature, exchanges across the country and between peer organisations of a similar size (but contrasting in approach and rich in variety of artform) would strengthen both the learning and profile of each participating organisation and place.

10 Rick Muir, Imogen Parker. Many to Many, how the relational state will transform public services. IPPR 2014. 11 Nabeel Hamdi. The Placemakers Guide to Building Community. Earthscan 2010.

   Joining it up: Conditions for Community and Creativity   


Rachel Blanche’s paper for Artworks12 outlines a framework for considering the multiplicity of roles that may be helpful in articulating the value of this approach. Learning would need to be gathered from:

1. those in the room: in this case the arts practitioners and children and young people, perhaps others such as teachers or youth group leaders

2. those just outside the room: in this case, the people who work within the arts organisation and

3. those furthest from the room: Create Gloucestershire, commissioners, schools, funders, associated public services

The bigger picture

12 Blanche 2014 op. cit. 13 Peter Block. Civic Engagement and the Restoration of Community. A Small Group 2007. 14 Francois Matarasso. Whose line is it anyway? The creation of a poem for Ledbury, v3 (4/14) 2014.


The gradual shift from industrial and transactional models (arts products for consumption) to knowledge based ones (experiences and partnerships) has profoundly opened up opportunities for creative practitioners and arts organisations. With this shift, we urgently need to start devising an economy based on ideas and have these ideas be generated from all quarters, not just the political and policymaking classes.

and socio-economic groups and working sectors. This enables arts practitioners to better understand what innovative work in the arts offers public policy makers. It also means that artists have an explicitly valued role alongside others in making that place better and therein helping the arts to be an integral part of that community.

Civic activist Peter Block13 contends that cultural change is only possible when it is preceded by the development of relationships and interconnectedness and writes: ‘The shift we seek in the public conversation is from speaking about what others should do, to speaking into the possibilities that we as citizens have the capacity to create’.

‘cultural change is only possible when it is preceded by the development of relationships’

We would recognise valued common outcomes in good work with young people to centre upon a more confident, resilient and actively socially engaged young person with a strengthened voice for what matters to them. But in so doing, we are also helping to create a new and more democratic space for us all, one that builds positive change. Francois Matarasso in a recent essay14 observed that ‘people are discovering new ways of working with people to create alternative, more democratic and fairer spaces in our artistic and cultural life. It is not easy, but it can be exhilarating. It also has the potential to renew – and perhaps to liberate – a practice that still has so much to offer a society undergoing change.’ The very real and practicable advantage to closely working within a place (an advantage that many arts organisations do not have) is that this bigger picture can be developed through our relationships, working with shared principles as well as across age

   Joining it up: Conditions for Community and Creativity     

Appendix A summary of the initiatives supported through Create Gloucestershire’s LCEP programme, through which this report was also commissioned.

Cinderford Artspace – Enterprise Project  This project re-framed the work of Cinderford Artspace as an enterprise centre for young people in the Forest of Dean. A group of young people developed their own events and programmes both to earn income, develop their employability and act as peer leaders for younger children attending Cinderford Artspace.  The project looked at the range of volunteering, work experience, internships and enterprise opportunities on offer at Artspace and sought to join these up into a more coherent offer. Gloucestershire Music Makers (now The Music Works) – Summer Arts College An intensive residency at Studio 340, Cheltenham, with young offenders, leading to Arts Award, a new arts education model with support from County Council Youth Offending Team. Roses Theatre – Abbey View PRU Project           This project tested the impact of a creative curriculum in a new Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) school in Tewkesbury using film, drama and music.  The aim is that the PRU funds the work on a continuing basis. It also has included helping young people in the PRU understand the pathways into the creative industries. Gloucestershire Music Makers (now The Music Works), The Roses, Artspace Cinderford – PRU business model development Project  This builds on the above project by exploring a new organisational model to “rollout” creative practice both in PRUs across the county and in addition a preventative service offered to schools to children who are at risk of being excluded. New Brewery Arts – Art education in New Housing          This is a long-term project to weave arts and culture for young people and children into a new large housing estate in Cirencester supported by the youth mayor and the Gold Arts awards students at NBA. 

Consortia – Creative Apprenticeships project        Research to develop a consortia model of delivering apprenticeships and internships across cultural organisations in Gloucestershire. The project has opened new doors with the G First, the LEP in Gloucestershire and with Grow Gloucestershire, a county council initiative to develop talent and retain graduates. Strike A Light Festival and creative opportunities in Gloucester           A place-based, city-wide approach developing new models for cultural education, that creates new routes into the creative sector for young people, particularly young men from BME communities. This agenda of enterprise, employability and graduate retention is the foundation of a new partnership with GFirst the Gloucestershire LEP, Strike A Light Festival, the University of Gloucestershire and Battersea Arts Centre. The emerging model builds a new and dynamic relationship with students on the new Drama BA, professional practice and the local community of Gloucester city. This is a unique model that re-thinks the relevance and links with a Drama Department and the city it inhabits. The project and learning is being cascaded across other producers and practitioners in a series of creative gatherings that build on ambitions articulated at a recent Open Space in Gloucester, Culture Matters. Cultural Education Hub All the lead officers of the partnership investment-supported projects meet on a regular basis to share learning, resources and “referral” routes for young people. This group will continue moving forward and provide an infrastructure for a future cultural Education Hub across Gloucestershire that will include other key players such as libraries and museums and galleries as well as creative industries and FE/HE reps. The aim of the group is to support, and enable excellent cultural work for young people in Gloucestershire.

   Joining it up: Conditions for Community and Creativity   


Joining it up: Conditions for Community and Creativity   


For more info visit us at:  @createglos |  @otherwayswork 

Joining it up: Conditions for Community and Creativity  

Using case studies from Create Gloucestershire's Local Cultural Education Programme, Jocelyn Cunningham explores in depth how arts centres a...

Joining it up: Conditions for Community and Creativity  

Using case studies from Create Gloucestershire's Local Cultural Education Programme, Jocelyn Cunningham explores in depth how arts centres a...