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Map with markers showing where CCC projects took place across the country. West End, Morecambe is in the north west and highlighted with a pink marker.Morecambe is a seaside town on the north west coast of England, once known as the Naples of the North. The West End of the town, with a population of around 5,000, is among the 10% most deprived areas in the country. Poverty and poor health are endemic in this area.

Here, members of the Creative Civic Change project Creative West End share their experiences of the programme.

Changing perceptions internally and externally

Creative West End was a project which launched in response to what local people said about their community. It aimed to focus on the challenges, assets and changes they wanted to see to improve the quality of life in the West End. How the community is perceived internally and externally was a key theme and priority for project delivery.

Creative West End was a partnership made up of residents, creative practitioners and cultural organisations including Good Things Collective and More Music. There was also a wider creative network comprised of residents and artists that informed progress and decision-making.

Over past three years we produced numerous opportunities for engagement through artistic commissions, a programme of ‘Inspiration and Learning’ events and a regular community market.

Isolation leads to procrastination and a feeling of ‘what’s the point’. I have experienced these feelings myself and I must say that if the Winter Market was not the cure for this malady, then it was certainly a remedy.”
Feedback on the Winter Market, 2021

How creativity changed our community

We developed a vibrant community market with local artisan traders, artists and performers, which opened up opportunities for commissioned creators to share and showcase their work. This colourful, seasonal event brought the community together to celebrate and experience inspirational and diverse music and performance from inside and beyond our district.

Brass band playing to an audience in West End, Morecambe

This was complemented by a diverse programme of well attended ‘Inspiration and Learning’ events – both online and in person – featuring high profile artists and changemakers such as Heather Morison, Wayne Hemingway and Zed Nelson. We organised trips for residents to Blackwell Arts, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Granby Row Liverpool, Trident Press Manchester and many more, all suggested by members of the creative network.

It reconnected me with a part of myself that has had to hold its breath and it reminded me that this kind of experience is a necessity for health, not a luxury.”
Visitor to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

We also commissioned murals, music, guided walks, an environmental festival and established a signwriting group.

Though our plans had to adjust during the COVID-19 pandemic, we managed to deliver a series of innovative, interactive, creative projects online, providing employment for artists and bringing those able to engage digitally together. We delivered creative packages to our residents to ensure we maintained contact with our neighbours throughout.

One of the main things from the visit to the Onion Collective is that there will always be adversity to change, but that it’s not the be all and end all and your efforts are worth it to reach those who need it most.”

From an ‘Inspiration and Learning’ visit to Onion Collective In Somerset

Andrew’s story

Andrew Morris is a local artist and craftsman. From the outset of Creative West End, Andrew was supportive of the market concept, seeing it as an opportunity to bring people together and to showcase local talent.

He specifically relocated his studio, taking over a former vacuum cleaner repair shop in the heart of the West End, a site adjacent to where our Creative West End markets were established. This move improved his outreach and the appearance of our neighbourhood. Creative West End invested in his learning and supported the purchase of new equipment which enabled him to share his skills with the community at his new workshop and studio.


Looking to the future

At the close of the programme, we began work on a document that will relay the story of the past three years. This will celebrate the projects, artists and most importantly the people in our community whose lives have been changed for the better through the Creative West End project. Using photographs, illustrations and case studies we will have a beautiful record of the moment when the West End began to change.

Our legacy will be the market that has become a seasonal feature of West End life. It is so much more than a market, bringing together musicians, poets, dancers, writers, artists, food producers, crafts people, individuals and organisations from within and beyond our community. Many of whom have grown through our project.

Confidence among local people in their own creativity has increased. There is vibrancy in the air and a developing, genuine excitement around creative collaboration and partnership working. We will continue to build on the lessons of the past three years together.