The programme is growing local confidence and wellbeing, but needs time to demonstrate lasting benefit, a report says.

Bell Square Hounslow
Artonik, Colour of Time -- Bell Square, Hounslow
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Vipul Sangoi

Creative People and Places (CPP) is inspiring Arts Council England (ACE) to think differently about quality and local leadership, a learning report has concluded.

It also finds the programme has grown confidence and wellbeing in the local population, and says that relying on numbers to assess excellence or inspiration obscures how CPP “is changing the terms of cultural engagement”.

“The involvement of local people in design and decisions around programming is increasingly seen as a strong way of raising levels of engagement,” said report author Mark Robinson.

New learning

The conclusions emerge from Faster, But Slower, Slower, But Faster, the second learning report into the CPP programme.

Emphasising vast differences between the 21 CPP places, which has led to evidence being “unevenly spread and at times contradictory”, the report concludes that it is too soon to assess sustained behaviour change, but it praises the ‘asset-based’ approach adopted by many places.

“CPP has learnt to focus on what can be achieved with what is to hand and can be developed. Conversations have shifted from arts infrastructure to building an infrastructure for the arts,” the report says.

Recommendations

Advising places to offer activities that are relevant and useful to local populations, the report cites examples of expensive marketing campaigns putting off potential audiences, and of paid events drawing bigger crowds than free versions.

It suggests being flexible with timelines and programme design, and congratulates places for engaging in critical peer review and not expecting transformative results immediately.

In addition, the report concludes that further research into the impact of CPP on social capital, the relationships between CPP and funded and unfunded arts orgs, and a study into the strengths and weaknesses of different types of programming would be desirable.

Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, said: “The crux of Creative People and Places has always been about listening to people and working with them to develop cultural experiences in their local communities.

“This takes time and patience, but it’s exciting to see from this report that this work is paying off and that people are genuinely engaging with these cultural programmes because they are relevant to them, their lives and to where they live.”

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