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How arts and culture are important to every aspect of our lives

  • Date: 29 May 2014
  • Artform: All
  • Area: North
Small Things Dance Collective project at Alder Hey Hospital Small Things Dance Collective project at Alder Hey Hospital, Leila Romaya

How arts and culture are important to every aspect of our lives

At the Arts Council we believe there is a powerful holistic case to be made for the value of arts and culture. Vital contributions are made to all of our lives from arts and culture. They are important to our social well-being and cohesion, our physical and mental health, our education system, our national status and our economy. Here are just a few of the many ways that organisations supported in the North by the Arts Council touch - and transform - people's lives.

Download the full case study or read it online here.


Providing access to cultural experiences for older people in residential care

Residents in care homes across West Yorkshire will find it easier to attend arts events following £250,000 of funding from Arts Council England and the Baring Foundation. We do, based in Holmfirth, is using its grant to launch @home. This club for residential and nursing homes and arts and cultural providers will offer a programme of arts events in care homes and at cultural venues across West Yorkshire.

We do is one of only four organisations nationwide to receive funding from this £1 million Arts and older people programme.

@home was inspired by the model of Culture Club, another initiative run by We do, funded and supported by Kirklees Community Partnership and the Arts Council.  Free to join and open to anyone living in the area aged 55+ the club offers a programme of workshops, events and special occasions and has attracted around 600 members in under two years.

We do are also involved in a project based at the Robin Lane Medical Centre in Pudsey, Leeds, which recently received a Grants for the arts award of over £72,000. Still in its early stages, Live at the Lux will create a live arts and music café bar at the heart of a wellbeing centre attached to a GP practice.

Working with people living with dementia

Museums in Cumbria are bringing arts and culture to people living with dementia and to their carers. The Cumbria Museum Consortium (consisting of Tullie House Museum and Art GalleryLakeland Arts and the Wordsworth Trust) has developed the Carlisle Dementia Partnership with a range of organisations concerned to develop a programme of activities that are beneficial for people living with dementia, and their carers.

The Cumbria Museum Consortium is an Arts Council Major partner museum and receives £3.1 million in funding. It is thanks to this support that the consortium was able to fund a specialist engagement post to target the over 50s, focusing on health and wellbeing. The other organisations involved in the Carlisle Dementia Partnership include Prism ArtsCreative Horizons CumbriaCumbria County Council Archive Services and LibrariesAge UKAlzheimers Society and NHS Occupational Therapy.

It is early days for the partnership, which was formed in June 2013, but several of the organisations are already running relevant schemes. A Carlisle Dementia Partnerships Dementia Awareness Day took place in Carlisle on 15 May at Tullie House Museum and Prism Arts studio.

Using dance to help patients at Alder Hey Children's Hospital

From Where You Are is a 29 month creative dance project exploring movement in acute paediatric healthcare. Led by Small Things Dance Collective (STDC), Cath Hawkins and Lisa Dowler, the project was developed in association with Edge Hill University and Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool. Cited as a 'ground-breaking' project by Alder Hey Children's Hospital, the company collaborated with the hospital's Arts for Health, Play Service, Pain and Sedation Service and Research Departments. The project has since engaged nine dance artists, reached over 1,500 participants and 1,550 live audiences and resulted in seven new commissions and 574 training sessions.

The From Where You Are project grew out of a successful 2008-9 pilot study, which looked at the effects of STDC's dance practice on the Oncology and Neuromedical wards at Alder Hey. The study was developed in association with Edge Hill University and Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool. Supported by Arts Council England's lottery funded Grants for the arts programme, the company also received funding from Edge Hill University, Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Big Lottery Fund and Warrington Borough Council. In its most significant finding the pilot study demonstrated that somatic dance can be effective in reducing the experience of acute pain in infants, children and young people 92 per cent of the participants experienced reduced pain, and their perception of pain changed.

In March 2014 STDC's work in this sphere received recognition at the NHS England Excellence in Participation Awards 2014, when they were awarded the Children's and Young People's Award.

The power of art supports veterans

Ex-service personnel in Liverpool have the opportunity to develop projects with digital artists, thanks to a scheme run by FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), the media arts centre based in Liverpool. FACT is a National portfolio organisation and their partner organisation is Veterans in Practice (VIP) programme is Liverpool Veterans Project. The VIP programme is currently funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Community Covenant and Liverpool FC Foundation.

Under the scheme, a group of 10-15 ex-soldiers and other military personnel meet at FACT every week. The group is currently working on a website project.

Past projects include: Atlantic Stars: a documentary film interviewing Atlantic Stars veterans: linked photos and interviews, and Statues Taking Liberties: a short animation about public art in Liverpool.

Combating social isolation with creative activity

Homeless people in four Northern cities are rediscovering their self-confidence thanks to projects run by Streetwise Opera. This award-winning charity uses music to help homeless people make positive changes in their lives. Every year the organisation works with over 500 people who have experienced homelessness.

Streetwise runs a weekly music Workshop Programme in 11 homeless centres around the country, four of which are in the North, in Manchester, Leeds, Middlesborough and Newcastle/Gateshead. These workshops are a dependable source of creative activity in lives where everything else can be changing. Visit the website to find out more about the new two-stage workshop programme and a series of 4-6 week residencies in homeless centres.

Streetwise also stage biennial productions which give their performers the chance to star in quality shows where there are high expectations, no compromise and no patronising. Past productions include With One Voice, which involved 300 performers from all over the UK with experience of homelessness. This production was hosted by the Royal Opera House as part of the London 2012 Festival: the first time that an event for homeless people was part of official Olympic celebrations. Arts Council England is Streetwise Opera's principal funder.

Making a difference to civic life in a rural area

People living in the Coniston Valley in Cumbria benefit from the presence of Grizedale Arts in more ways than one: from the inspiring artworks created under its umbrella, from its input into the community, and from the kudos attached to its position as a national, internationally recognised, centre for the development of the arts, working with its local context to address global cultural change.

Grizedale Arts, which is a National portfolio organisation, is a residency and commissions agency for visual arts in the rural setting of the Coniston valley.

The recent Wantee and the Turner Prize Homecoming exhibition, held at the Ruskin Museum in Cumbria, is a good example of how Grizedale's approach reaches out to the local community.

Bringing the future here, now, via digital and creative media

Digital technologies enable artists to connect with audiences in new ways, bringing them into a closer relationship with the arts and creating new ways for them to take part. They also support the development of new business models, new networks and new forms of creativity.

Included within our National portfolio are organisations that are active in the digital sphere, either through creating digital art or using digital technologies to support audience engagement work, which will help to deliver our goals and priorities. Two key such organisations in Manchester are FutureEverything and Cornerhouse.

FutureEverything was founded in 1995 and is Manchester's award-winning, internationally respected festival of ideas and digital invention. Over 600 people attended the nineteenth FutureEverything conference in 2014, and among the key people they came to hear were James Bridle of the New Aesthetic, Simon Giles, Accenture's global lead for Intelligent Cities, Volker Buscher at Arup, economist Irene Ng, and Mike Bracken, Digital Director at UK Cabinet Office.

During the 2014 festival,  a significant project, advanced by bringing together creative coders, was The Greater Manchester Data Synchronisation Programme .

Cornerhouse, another National portfolio organisation, is not only a flagship international centre for contemporary visual arts and independent film, as well as one of the British Film Institute's Hubs, but it is also one of the UK's leading centres for digital media. Recently merged with the Library Theatre and due to move in Spring 2015 to a new purpose-built centre for international contemporary art, theatre, film and books called HOME, Cornerhouse offers a programme that aims to support, inform and help creative industry practitioners and those who aspire to enter the creative world. 

Cornerhouse runs a unique digital reporter scheme which provides support and training for individuals who want to broaden their skills and portfolios in digital media in order to improve their chances of employment within the creative industries. Every year, a cohort of 15 reporters undertakes a 10 month training programme which gives them hands-on experience. Regular digital workshops and talks for those wanting to fully engage and interact with their audiences online and/or gain practical digital skills are also run.

Talks and networking events offer inspiration and challenges from leading or innovating practitioners. These are often programmed in partnership with other organisations. Examples include TEDxManchester, a live broadcast of Thinking Digital and a regular Show & Tell event where artists and members of digital creative agencies talk about their practice, personal projects or source of inspiration.

Helping the local economy

Manchester International Festival is the world's first and only international commissioning festival. During the 2013 festival, over 300 performances of more than 30 new commissions and special events took place over 18 days. Audiences increased by nearly 10 per cent on the 2011 event to 250,000.

The festival is a positive example of a mixed funding ecology - in addition to grants from Arts Council England and Manchester City Council, the 2013 festival raised just under £3 million from private sponsorship, individual giving, trusts and foundations -with many of the top tier sponsors having supported the festival over all four editions. The new MIF Members scheme was a sell-out, with 700 individuals joining to support the 2013 Festival with a £50 donation each. The next festival runs from 2-19 July 2015.

In the North East, another festival - Lumiere 2013 - also brought with it substantial economic benefits. Lumiere 2013, Durham's light festival, entertained 175,000 people over four evenings and attracted £4.3 million into County Durham's economy.


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