Skip to Main Content

Creativity has been key to supporting and uniting communities across the country from Lancaster to Cornwall through the pandemic, a new report has shown.

Growing through the storm: Learning from the Creative Civic Change response to coronavirus documents how 15 communities across England responded to the turbulence of the past year by investing time in arts and creativity in their neighbourhoods.

The report, which is the second interim evaluation of the Creative Civic Change (CCC) programme, shows how different groups were able to respond to their community’s needs, what difference that made to residents and what the groups learnt.

From helping neighbours to feel more connected to each other, to simply bringing joy and cheer in an otherwise difficult time, the report shows that the opportunity to get creative made a real difference to people’s lives.

It demonstrates some of the ways communities spread joy and cheer to those around them. Neighbourhoods came together to sing, dance, draw, fly kites and play mini golf, with creative packs delivered to doorsteps and socially distanced groups taking to the streets.

A resident of Blackwell in Derbyshire where the Greater Creative group are based said:

“It brings you together as a community and it’s something to occupy your mind and take your mind off the horrendous things that are happening right now and gives you focus.”

For many, the opportunity to do things differently during lockdown helped people to think differently about their neighbourhoods.

In Birmingham, a member of the Hard Times Require Furious Dancing group said:

“It has influenced, and it has changed, the way I look at spaces around my community and the way I look at what can be done and what we can do.”

Evaluation of the past year also demonstrated how the flexibility of the funding in CCC areas enabled communities to be responsive in a time of crisis.

One community group member said:

“The most basic reason [we were able to respond] was having the right resources, I just really appreciate how flexible it’s been and how we’ve been able to change things when we need to change things.”

Launched in 2018, the Creative Civic Change programme gives 15 communities funding to spend in a resident-led way across 4 years on creative projects in their neighbourhoods. The funding programme is a partnership between Local Trust, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, and the National Lottery Community Fund.

Grace Bremner, senior programme coordinator for the Creative Civic Change programme said:

“At the beginning of 2020 Creative Civic Change was looking forward to a bumper year of exciting activity. Hearts sank as the reality of lockdown hit and project after project was postponed or cancelled.

“With CCC funding however, each community was able to reassess and quickly respond to their changing circumstances. Each one responded with more vigour, ingenuity and compassion than ever before, and as a result, some amazing things have blossomed.”

Read the full report

More about Creative Civic Change