Participation is everywhere. Now what? 

orchestra playing
10 Nov 2021

When and why did the art world decide that everyone’s creativity should be celebrated and supported? What change does it promise, and what will it deliver? François Matarasso has been reflecting.

Arts and health: think big and embrace the opportunities

Drummers on stage following behind a woman in a huge twirling skirt
22 Jul 2020

A substantial new income stream for the arts sector can go hand in hand with significant savings to the health budget, says Tim Joss. But first we need to move beyond some widespread assumptions that are holding back progress.

No community spaces? No community arts

Four people standing on stage in front of a sign saying 'Save Granville'
22 Apr 2020

Community arts organisations are at the heart of the response to the Covid-19 crisis, but their spaces are threatened by arguments that focus on the economic value of the arts. It’s time we started measuring social value, says Zain Dada.

£12m fundraised for Birmingham 2022 festival

25 Nov 2021

Funders have given £12m to secure the future of the Birmingham 2022 festival.

The Commonwealth Games cultural event will feature hundreds of artists and is expected to reach thousands of participants and members of the community.

A core programme of events supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Esmee Fairburn Foundation will explore local LGBT+ stories and LGBT-led commissioning.

One funded project will be a "wide-reaching intergenerational" tap-dancing scheme across the West Midlands.

"It gives us the perfect opportunity to re-connect with each other and our towns and cities and get the region dancing,” project director Stephanie Ridings said.

Building meaningful participation

an outdoor community arts project
17 Nov 2021

Research suggests that organisations are feeling an increased urgency to deepen connections with the communities they serve, as Anne Torregiani reports.

Co-creating change

Battersea Arts Centre, Co-Creating Change
17 Nov 2021

How do we enable people to create real change through art and culture? David Price believes it's through harnessing the ‘power of us’.

75 years of Arts Council and the amateur arts

10 Nov 2021

As he reflects on Arts Council England’s 75th anniversary, Robin Simpson thinks it’s not unfair to say it has never quite known what to do about the amateur arts.

From cultural participation to cultural ownership

Entelechy Arts Awayday
10 Nov 2021

Many organisations seek to put community at the heart of their work. But Maddy Mills asks why is it important and what does it actually look like for day-to-day business?

'A contemporary horror story'

Musicians rehearsing
04 Nov 2021

How do artists engage with people living with dementia? Stephen Higgins, Electra Perivolaris and Nina Swann share their different perspectives on a new project.

UNBOXED 2022 offers innovation - and employment

21 Oct 2021

Once derided as the Festival of Brexit, the eight-month mega event will "prove the naysayers wrong".

Changing lives with creativity

image of a hand painting
21 Oct 2021

The arts have a huge role to play in health and wellbeing. Jane Rich shares how creative practitioners can support mental health without being mental health professionals themselves.

Citizen's assembly invites input on arts in placemaking

13 Oct 2021

A citizen's assembly on the role of arts and culture - the first of its kind anywhere in the world - has begun.

A new website launched on Thursday (October 14) for residents of Coventry to share their views on how arts and culture can shape the city's future.

The ideas given online will be debated by 50 paid participants, who have been randomly selected from a representative sample of the population.

That group's recommendations will help form Coventry's long term cultural planning and a series of creative projects in 2022.

“This poll is a way of getting a sense of how the wider city feels about the issues the assembly is debating, and of feeding other views, perspectives and ideas in for the assembly participants to deliberate," said Janet Vaughan, Co-Artistic Director of project lead Talking Birds.

The website remains open for comments until November 5.

Volunteer run museum is the UK's most family friendly

11 Oct 2021

Bailiffgate Museum & Gallery, a small volunteer-run museum in Alnwick, has been named the UK's most family friendly.

Judges for the annual award from Kids in Museums said Bailiffgate has a "relaxed atmosphere" that put it above the rest.

It displays information at child height and offers lots of hands-on activities, incuding a Viking camp.

"Bailiffgate Museum & Gallery has excelled in allowing families to feel free to be themselves and to have fun and engage with the history inside the museum," Kids in Museums President Philip Mould said.

Three London museums - the Postal Museum, the Horniman and the London Transport Museum - were also recognised for their accessibility to families.

The National Museum Wales and The Whitworth in Manchester were honoured for their digital activities.

Five-year grant for creative ageing programme

07 Oct 2021

Newbury's Corn Exchange has received funding to begin the next stage of a legacy creative ageing programme.

A new team dedicated to this work has been appointed on the back of the £339,000 Lottery grant to lead engagement with older people, especially those who are rurally based and socially isolated.

The first stage of Ageing Creatively ran from 2016 to 2019. This second stage will involve a range of Covid-safe singing, writing, dance, crafts and exercise workshops, as well as a Touch to See group for the visually impaired.

Engagement Manager Hannah Elder said the programme is varied, responsive and provides a noticeable service to its community.

"We see the smiles in our Memory Cafe morning and the concentration on the faces of those attending Afternoon Art.

"We hope to see this impact continue for our ageing community over the next five years, and to play a real part locally in championing arts for health and well-being among our elders."

Citizen's assembly to shape culture in Coventry

27 Sep 2021

Art for the People, believed to be the first citizen's assembly for arts and culture, will decide on projects for the City of Culture programme.

Birmingham 2022 releases festival details

17 Sep 2021

Birmingham 2022 has released details of the six-month festival set to run across the West Midlands as part of the Commonwealth Games.

The £12m festival will showcase art, photography, dance, theatre and digital commissions between March and October next year.

It will open with a new production, Wondrous Stories, performed by Leamington Spa-based dance circus company Motionhouse. The festival's full programme is set to be released in January,

“This spectacular festival will feature over 300 brand new creative works, providing essential funding direct to artists and thousands of participatory moments for audiences,” Birmingham 2022 Chief Creative Office Martin Green said.

Birmingham Council's Creative City Grants will support the festival by offering 150 community groups grants of up to £20,000 to deliver creative projects that “impact positively on their community”.

This latest funding drive follows £100,000 pledged by the Games to create artworks depicting sporting events.

Being at home in Manchester

landscape image of Manchester's HOME venue
14 Sep 2021

A group of artists from Deaf, disabled and neurodiverse communities have been working on a project to transform accessibility. Nickie Miles-Wildin reports on its successes.

Teen curates catalogue of MPs' favourite artworks

14 Sep 2021

A catalogue featuring the favourite artworks of 101 Members of Parliament is now available online.

John Lilbourne, 18, curated the online exhibition after writing to all 650 MPs during lockdown, asking: "What is your favourite owned artwork?".

Dear John features his favourite responses from cross party MPs, including cabinet ministers Oliver Dowden and Priti Patel.

Works on display range from portraits of the Queen and Margaret Thatcher to art created by MPs' children. 

Dowden sent a photograph of the Queen from Twitter and Matt Hancock has a Damien Hirst portrait of the monarch.

Jacob Rees-Mogg highlighted a 15th Century statue from the studio of Italian sculptor Della Robia.

When asked why he undertook the project, Lilbourne said:

"These are people who make the decisions that govern our lives, but they feel so unreachable. By writing to them with this question I was trying to find a human connection.”

Sensory and inclusive theatre

outdoor theatre production
07 Sep 2021

All cultural organisations are concerned with making their work more accessible. A new report by Maria Varvarigou on sensory and inclusive theatre for disabled children and young people provides a model for doing just that.

Iconic Manchester venue to reopen after £6m works

01 Sep 2021

Contact Theatre says it is focussed on putting young people at the forefront of its work after the challenges of the past year.


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