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Culture and creativity

The Nudge journey

This blog is part of a series of reflections on Creative Civic Change, Local Trust’s experimental funding programme that supported 15 communities across England to shape, lead and commission arts and creative interventions, to make positive social change where they lived.

In this piece, Hannah Slogget, project lead at Nudge Community Builders in Plymouth, talks about the effect of Creative Civic Change on the neighbourhood.

When we got the call to say that we had been successful with the Creative Civic Change funding it felt like a major turning point, but we could never have imagined how much it would boost the change we were trying to make on Union Street in the Stonehouse area of Plymouth. 

The ripple effect

Local Trust funders believed in us, trusted us and encouraged us to work in the way our community needed and that rippled out. We were able to pass that way of working on to others, taking risks and getting behind people doing great things in our community.

The playful and disruptive activity on the street changed how spaces felt. Seeing people bump into each other, connect and get to know each other and the impact of colour and joy on the street was everything we hoped to see. People dance in the street.

A total of 54 artists and creatives have contributed to a whole mix of creativity on the street. Many artists we supported to be brave are now off creating bigger change, they are sitting on boards and grabbing opportunities to grow. For Nudge, it has also unlocked a whole lot more than that. It unexpectedly added huge value to helping us secure the funding and investment we needed to drive forward our ambitions for community ownership. 

Economic benefits

Back in 2017, we realised the importance of community ownership after bringing a building back into use that had been standing empty for 25 years, and then seeing how the landlord benefitted from us paying rent and then being able to rent other buildings around it for more money.

There are so many benefits from the space we now call Union Corner, but the economic benefit was with the landowner – that set us off on a journey to own buildings. As much as 25% of the land was standing empty, which created an environment of anti-social behaviour and gave permission for people to show a lack of care. 

Knowing someone believed in what we were doing pushed us on to make more change happen.”

The Creative Civic Change grant was our biggest by far. Knowing someone believed in what we were doing pushed us on to make more change happen. Using the stories, learnings and images from the projects on the street built our credibility to secure the resources to scale what we were doing.

Since being awarded the Creative Civic Change funding we have bought two huge buildings on the street, we have a long lease on another, and we have created the space for 22 small businesses that were not on the street before. We have attracted £700k grants and over £950k investment to do this. 

This involved us producing reports, showing people around, pitching to boards and building relationships with funders and investors. Having visible examples of how we work displayed on the street had a huge impact on this. We’ve also had to be brave and believe a different way is possible, something that was validated through how Local Trust worked with us. 

Combining small and big wins

It also helped encourage local people to join us on the journey of tackling some of these complex buildings. The mix of short-term, quick visual wins whilst the bigger stuff was being created has been key for people to feel like progress is being made and therefore feel motivated to join in. Sign reading 'New ideas must use old buildings'

For example, we used the Creative Civic Change funding to put photography and art work on the front of The Millennium Building before we could invite people in. We lit it up, shared images of what it looked like inside on the outside, added art works and stories, and playfully addressed the number of people breaking in, with a fly-posted campaign. This immediately tackled the feeling of neglect and lack of care an empty building creates in a community. 

The trust and belief that local people know what’s needed created an environment where our community feels more abundant, that change is possible, and that there is hope. This will continue long after the funding has been spent. 

Hannah Slogget is project lead at Nudge Community Builders.

 < Find out more about Creative Civic Change.