Creative Civic Change set out to enable communities across England to use creativity to make meaningful change happen in their local areas A year into the programme, senior programme coordinator Grace Bremner, outlines our approach.
Creative Civic Change (CCC) is an experimental funding programme delivered by the Local Trust, National Lottery Community Fund, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
Modelled on the Big Local programme, CCC offers flexible, long-term funding, in-area mentoring and a substantial peer learning programme to 15 communities across England. Residents are in the lead every step of the way. Whatever the local priorities, the programme will help these communities use creative methods to achieve them.
“The great thing about Creative Civic Change is that it’s not bureaucratic and it’s not about targets, tick-boxes, or outcomes. It’s very human and understands that all humans have it in them to be creative.” Daesin, REMAKE
Creativity is at the heart of the programme and we define it in its broadest sense, concerned as much with creative problem solving as with creative outputs. One year in and both have been delivered in droves. We have had podcasts, murals, local newspapers, ceramics, theatre, artist residencies, mosaics and more.
We have also seen communities use innovative solutions to tackle difficult social issues from a raku kiln in Stoke on Trent that is helping create a safe space and sense of community, to a community choir called the Granarchists in Grimsby helping residents to clean up their streets. One year in, we have a host of brilliant stories that prove that creativity is at the heart of resilient and resourceful communities.
Created partly in response to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s Inquiry into the Civic Role of the Arts, Creative Civic Change aims to explore the role that arts, artists and art organisations play in community life. We are interested in the dynamic between artists and arts organisations and communities when local people take the lead. Through our programme, we are challenging top-down modes of engagement and pushing artists and arts organisations to work in a new way with communities in which power is shared and everyone’s expertise is highly valued.
Community leadership is central to everything we do, and we have extended that to the design of the programme itself. Everything from the support programme to the evaluation has been co-created with our communities. The programme was designed with our communities during a 6-month development phase. While our areas worked to identify their local priorities and activities, we worked together to design a support programme that would best help them achieve these goals. We continue to adapt and reshape the programme to respond to community need as we go.
We ask that this community leadership is reflected in the way the CCC groups work locally, with all experimenting with different ways of putting power, decision making and resources into the hands of local-residents. There is no one size fits all, but when communities are allowed the space to develop working models that fit their local context, brilliant things happen.
“CCC has had a very fundamental impact on Nudge and many of the organisations we collaborated with early on – it has made things feel possible” Hannah Sloggett, Nudge Community Builders
Through this funding programme, the CCC funding partners hope to collectively demonstrate that resident-led creativity should be at the heart of any strategy to make communities thrive. We want to work with other communities, arts funders, community funders, the arts sector, and policymakers to develop best practice when it comes to community arts. If you would like to be part of this conversation, please get in touch.