This is a summary of observations based on feedback from Arts Council staff involved in first round assessment or moderation. They are included to help potential applicants for the next round and should be viewed alongside the guidance document which you can download in PDF and Word formats.

  • Many proposals tended to be strong on either the community engagement or the potential for excellent art. The strongest proposals managed to articulate a clearer balance between both.
  • The majority of proposals embraced the need for thorough consultation, but the strongest went much further and made a convincing case for empowering the public and grass roots organisations to lead on delivery and decision making.
  • The strongest proposals described how they would respond to, but also stretch the aspirations of the public. They would do this by giving people opportunities to experience the widest range of excellent arts opportunities and to support them to make informed choices about what arts they may be interested in.
  • An interesting range of arts, non-arts and commercial organisations have come together to form partnerships. Non-arts partners include health bodies, educational institutions, housing trusts, heritage organisations and large employers.
  • A focus of this programme is on testing new approaches that allow others that are not involved directly to learn which approaches are more effective than others. In the next round we would particularly welcome proposals that offer radically different sustainable solutions to low engagement. We would also be interested in seeing more partnerships that include the private sector.
  • The strongest proposals maintained a focus on 'more people experiencing and being inspired by the arts'. Other agendas such as wellbeing and regeneration are not the primary focus of Creative people and places, though they appeared to dominate some proposals.
  • We see local authorities as key strategic partners. Many helped to stimulate proposals and brought people together as part of the application process. However, in some cases the proposed role of the local authority appeared to cross over into decision making and delivery, which is not appropriate in terms of this programme.
  • It was a challenge for applicants to demonstrate the potential for sustainability beyond the three years of Arts Council investment. Events and activities do not all need to be free to the public and consider opportunities for generating revenue, particularly in the period beyond the three year investment. This programme is about reaching as many people in the community as possible and this is likely to include a mix of all social, economic and demographic groups.
  • The Creative people and places programme seeks to empower the whole community in the widest sense. Some applications focused on very specific groups such as children and young people and this should not be to the exclusion of other groups. We also need to be mindful that we don't duplicate other funded activity such as bridge organisation work.
  • Grass roots arts sector involvement was not as prominent as we had anticipated. This is important as both a means of ensuring community buy in and longer term sustainability.
  • There was limited evidence of museums and libraries engagement in many proposals.
  • It is helpful when proposals make reference to the established body of research into why people do or do not engage in the arts or past learning from activities to increase engagement, eg CASE, New audiences programme. The stronger proposals clearly explained what was unique within their proposed activity and what it could add.
  • Many proposals included a high number of outdoor events and festivals without demonstrable evidence of community demand. The stronger proposals avoided pre-determined artistic programmes, whilst clearly identifying the artistic credentials of those involved. They also suggested utilising more artistic talent if successful as part of the development stage.