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Case Studies

In this section, you will find various good practice case studies from a range of different local and regional organisations, that may assist you in developing similar activities in your area. Arts Development UK are seeking new case studies so that members can share good practice. As well as sharing good practice, case studies also offer an opportunity for you to demonstrate the excellent work happening across the UK as well as spotlighting your own organisation nationally.  We particularly welcome case studies that support the crosscutting agenda.

If you would like to offer a case study from your area, please contact:

Some of are library of case studies are included below:

ArtsConnect: Being Creatively Active

AdultswithDementiaArtsConnect, is a collaboration of four local authorities within South Wales (Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taf, and the Vale of Glamorgan County Borough Councils), with a vision to provide a quality and cost-effective arts service for residents of, and visitors to, the respective Councils through effective collaboration and a cohesive approach to planning and delivery.

During 2013, it was agreed that its target group work would be with looked after children and adults with dementia, thus Being Creatively Active – a programme to offer enhanced quality of life and development opportunities – was created. This was ArtsConnect’s first collaborative project and successful application to the Arts Council of Wales’ Lottery project funding. Being Creatively Active would offer a range of activities in both residential homes and day centres, as well as with looked after children and their care workers, and the impact and process of the work would be externally evaluated.

Adults with Dementia were engaged in singing activity, through choral activity provided by opera singer Karl Daymond and interactive concerts provided by Triptych in association with Live Music Now. Observations and comments gathered included:
• Having members of staff consistently say “they have been looking forward to this all week / talking about it all morning”
• Seeing a tangible difference in individual residents across the 7 weeks
• Some of the service users reacted physically and danced/moved during some of the upbeat songs. M (who is very immobile) seemed to react to the music by opening her eyes during Calon Lan, Cwm Rhondda and Amarillo. L and B enjoyed having their names substituted in Daisy Bell.
• B was engaged and talkative and sang along with gusto. Also A seems to know the words to all the songs in English and Welsh, and every verse to the old hymns too. P was keen to get up and dance to many of the songs, which I encouraged.

Looked After Children received drama workshops delivered by Geese Theatre and participated in a photography project with artists Faye Chamberlain and Michal Iwanowski. Digitalised stories were also undertaken by Breaking Barriers. Observations and comments gathered included:
Child N was quite vocal about having enjoyed the photography aspect, but also meeting new people and working together. That was quite moving, as it seemed genuine and backed up by his general participation on the whole process over the last few weeks

For the group of young people involved in both the story telling and taking part in the drama production the long term impact would be quite significant. Involving looked after children in such a powerful and effective way enabled them to examine their own feelings, experiences and behaviours in a safe, supporting and therapeutic way. The digital stories were also a fantastic way of ‘telling their’ story, one of which told a positive experience and the other reflected the difficulties experienced in the care system. The young people where extremely proud of the portrayal of their stories.

This was a pilot programme for ArtsConnect, and as such the learning outcomes are as important as those experienced by the end users and there is much for us to learn. The programme covered a huge amount of work – 8 projects across four local authorities with two service areas in each – in a very tight timescale, and on a relatively small budget. The programme covered a huge amount of work – 8 projects across four local authorities with two service areas in each – in a very tight timescale, and on a relatively small budget.

Time was a major obstacle to achievement of even greater successes throughout this programme, and for this type of work adequate thinking, planning and communicating time is essential. Greater time at the beginning to talk, listen, learn, formulate and structure would have allowed a deeper engagement with all services involved across each local authority. Similarly, the old adage of ‘funding fewer better’ comes to play here; there was simply too much going on, with too much diversity of work on offer. Again, bringing partners together at the outset to iron out strategic aims, to clarify purpose and to set ground rules and aims would have aided the outcomes significantly.

Participants all benefited from the programme, and where partner commitment and engagement was occasionally lacking, there are clear reasons (predominantly communication linked) why that happened. Overall therefore, we would be confident in stating that this programme was highly successful, and such a model (modified and adapted according to the learning outcomes) could well be repeated and expanded to wider community benefit in the future.
For more information about the project, please contact Caroline O’Neil at RCT CBC on Caroline.A.O’


European Residency News from Staffs CC: Residency- Creative tools to empower artists & communities

Ever wondered how community artists get trained nowadays? Residency, an EU funded project has spent the past two years engaging artists, local authorities, communities and academics in action research to look to see if the traditional model of an Artist Residency is the answer. Residency emerged from a partnership formed by Staffordshire University, and the Universities of Barcelona and Warsaw. It was developed in response to an ongoing request from artists about the need for training in relation to developing civic engagement work and their preference for learning ‘on the job’, in a local setting whilst making work and social change happen.

As universities reduce their training offers for community artists, and the lack career pathways for community artists; this action research project set about to probe, question and explore whether the Residency model was a suitable structure to give artists the training they needed to make them successful in their work. Self-contained projects in the own right, artist residencies based upon civic engagement outcomes were created (each involving artists from partner countries).“Młynów na Woli” (Mill in the Wola district in Warsaw) worked with the UK based Plattformer collective in residential communities to challenge stereotypical views of the neighbourhood. Anna Zawadzka and Janek Dowgiallo (MECH) from Poland resided in Espai Germanetes, and engaged local people to participate in decision-making about public spaces. St Quentin Nursing and Residential Home and The Cambrian Care Home hosted Spanish artist Almudena Caso and explored ways to change perceptions of care settings.

Local communities managed the entire process from artist recruitment to artist supervision- and were pivotal in identifying the elements of the Residency structure, which could be exploited to help artist and communities to develop their skills to work together. Apart from achieving positive civic engagement outcomes for each residency, the findings from the action research revealed methods, ideas and opportunities for how the model could be adopted to help support artists and communities to learn together, The learning was rich and varied ranging from what can be learned about civic life as a result of developing an induction programme for artists to the value of forming community led management and governance structures to support and supervise artists working within communities.

The action research team were made aware of the uniqueness of each civic engagement project- and whilst the findings suggested that some practices could be replicated to help support artist training in this context, the team are also keen to promote the uniqueness of each individual project. To this end, a Residency Toolkit has been produced- with advice and guidance which emerged during the Residencies- but which is open to re interpretation by anyone who uses it. The toolkit and additional resources are available as a free download from For more information about the project contact Janet Hetherington, Senior Lecturer, Staffordshire University,


Inspired Responses at the Brindley

Since 2005, the visual arts development officer at the Brindley Arts Centre Runcorn has been creating a programme of artists’ residencies with schools, resulting in an annual exhibition of work by artists and students. Inspired Responses has brought together 7 high schools, 3 special schools and an FE college with 10 artists working a wide variety of media. The project draws on the skills of both artists and teachers and provides a cost effective way for schools to develop work with artists.

Artists lead workshops based on their own practice, from public art and printmaking, to sculpture and time-based media, providing teachers and pupils with new skills to develop in the direction of their choice. Fitting in with a high school timetable and ensuring access for students from special education schools has been a priority of the programme. For more information about the case study, click: Inspiredresponsescasestudy  (Opens new page and click the heading link)


Ashfield DC Arts on Prescription Goes for a walk case study

The Arts on Prescription project was originally modelled on a scheme focusing on promoting good mental health through engagement with the arts delivered by Stockport Primary Care Trust. In Nottinghamshire, the scheme was led by the Nottingham based arts charity City Arts, supported by a range of sponsors from the NHS, business, Nottingham University and local councils, and offered a range of arts activities including: creative writing, music, batik, photography, fine art, textiles, mono printing and sculpture. The activities were designed to develop self-expression, social interaction and self confidence building and relied on effective partnership working with GP’s, mental health professionals, the voluntary sector and carers.

Over 60 people benefited from this initial programme with many reporting tangible improvements in their mental health. Others opted to continue their artistic endeavours with several going on to paid employment.

For more information, clck: Ashfield ARTS ON PRESCRIPTION


Case Study: Ashfield District Council Stage Life

Stage Life is a project provided by the Young Potential arts company based in Nottingham focused on developing the physical and mental wellbeing of young people and adults living in Ashfield who have multiple and profound learning disabilities and complex mental health needs. Each participant has the opportunity to explore music, drama and visual art with the aim of nurturing self confidence, social interaction and physical abilities such as motor skills, hand – eye coordination, flexibility and stamina.The Stage Life programme is based around 3 tiers that enable participants to progress:StageLifeTasterSession

  • Tier 1: Music, drama, and visual art offering participants an initial experience in their chosen art form, working towards a performance or exhibition.
  • Tier 2: Music, drama and visual art courses. These sessions build upon what was experienced at tier 1 and offer a more structured learning opportunity, working towards performances or exhibitions.
  • Tier 3: Community arts ventures and volunteering / work experience opportunities within the arts.

Tier 1 is now fully functioning in Ashfield offering music, drama and visual Art. Tier 2 is also running and offers a progression route from those people who have experience of Tier 1. Tier 3 is now offered as a long term opportunity for participants.

How is Stage Life sustainable in the Short, Medium and Long Term?

The project was initially financially supported by Ashfield District Council Arts Development with seed funding that led to a successful Arts Council England Grants for the Arts award of £60K in 2010. This allowed the project to be established in the spring of 2011 with sufficient funding to sustain development in Nottinghamshire for two years. As the project progressed Young Potential worked with Nottinghamshire County Council Adult Social Care and Health Commissioning Team in order to become an approved provider. This allowed the opportunity to sustain Stage Life beyond the initial funded period by offering it as a service purchased through delegated personal budgets. Stage Life is now self sustaining in Ashfield with 10 regular participants, usually led by 2 artists assisted by support staff.

What is the personal and artistic merit of the programme?

The great strength of the Stage Life programme is that its content is created developmentally as a partnership process between artists and participants. This leads to innovative explorations based on personal experiences, enriched by the inclusion of relevant repertoire and techniques. Feedback from participants and audience members has evidenced the breadth of emotional exploration and expression that is taking place. What is particularly encouraging are the reports from carers concerning developments in participant’s social interaction.

The Stage Life programme continues to receive project support from Ashfield District Council Arts Development.

Author: John Tattersfield: Community Development Officer (Arts)



Case Study: Empty Shops

Inspired by the ‘To Let’ Signs outside of the empty shops  Pennine Lancashire’s LET project turned “Empty spaces into creative places”.  Under the collective working group Creativity Works, five local authority districts (Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Ribble Valley) came together to work on an empty shop programme.  Three joint working themes were agreed and each district facilitated how they delivered the project to ensure it met local need as well as the project objectives.  The joint project themes were: creative business development, town centre animation and collective communication.

Funding was pooled from each district’s DCLG empty shop allocation of varying amounts and we were able to match this money by a collective Arts Council bid.  A 12 month programme was delivered across the 5 authorities, with the scale in each district being influenced by the amount of DCLG money allocated to the project.

LET was about town centre animation as well as empty shops and consequently the variety of the programme was vast.  A short video, project photo’s and artists blogs can be found on the following website.  The project Evaluation report is also available here, the final section of this report details recommendations for the future that anyone considering doing something similar in the might find useful to consider.

Participation and PSA3

ParticipationBefore Sir Brian McMaster re-focussed our thinking towards excellence, the DCMS was spending a lot of time thinking about participation and how to deliver the Treasury PSA3 target (PSA = Public Service Agreement).   The PSA3 programme has run its course, yet the key issues of increasing participation and engagement are here to stay.  This helpful article by Andrew Lewis at the DCMS outlines some of the issues and achievements in this important area. Click here to download the PDF and read the full story.

Larkin’ About In Richmond

Larkin’ About was a site-specific theatre project which took place over one week in August 2005 delivered by the Arts Service at the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames in partnership with the National Youth Theatre and the Parks and Open Spaces Department. Building upon the success of our annual Larks in the Parks children’s theatre festival we were keen to develop a programme strand that would actively target excluded young people aged 13 to 16 years with cultural opportunities available in their locality.

The outcomes for participants included, recognition of their achievements by peers, family, project staff and general public, learning to negotiate with their peers and to resolve conflict through discussion, identifying new and appropriate role models, through direct contact with artists and project staff to whom the participants could relate and development of team work and collaborative skills.

What were the measures of success for the creative team? Peter Collins, NYT Associate Artist said: “There were many, but chiefly, retaining and actively engaging all participants for the full week; creating an environment to enable participants to lead and therefore own the creation of content for the piece and enabling the young people to engage with and reflect on their local environment.” Click here to download the PDF and read the full story.

Being Here – Youth Focused Arts

A youth-focused arts project in Southend-on-Sea that took one young homeless woman off the streets and into employment has been hailed a success by the DCMS. In this article, Rosemary Pennington, Cultural Development Officer for Southend explains why ‘Being Here’ has worked so well. Click here to download the PDF and read the full story.

Built to Last – ‘Marriage Material’

The ITC report on the need for small and medium scale theatre companies to take the time to invest in a long lasting mutually profitable touring and venue relationship – ‘marriage material’. Click here to download the PDF and read the full story.

Shared Vision: Lessons in Public Art

New village developments around Cambridge are creating an opportunity for new public art commissions. Andy O’Hanlon, South Cambridgeshire District Council Arts Officer, describes two such projects and the benefits they have brought to the area. Click here to download the PDF and read the full story.

This article first appeared in the Cambridge Architecture Gazette Spring 2007

New Face in Town

Suzanne Dimmock, Arts Projects Assistant with Allerdale Borough Council, describes how Public Art has made a major impact on a new town centre development in Workington, a town of just 30,000 people. The article outlines how the public art initiative was funded and is well illustrated. Click here to download the PDF and read the full story.

Remember Filey

Butlin’s holiday camps have played a major part in the lives of many ordinary British people. Before the rise of package holidays, and worldwide travel, Butlin’s afforded an annual chance to relax, to socialise, meet new people and have fun.

This article by Samantha Schneider, Arts Development Worker at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, describes an oral history project that aimed to document Butlin’s Filey camp’s history from its opening in 1939 to its final closure in 1983. Click here to download the PDF and read the full story.

What the Dickens?

Claire Bigley, Drama and Literature Officer for Halton Borough Council describes the developing work of the Halton Actors in Residence (HAIR) and the growing impact they have had on communities and drama lovers in the North West of England. Click here to download the PDF and read the full story.

Back to the Future – Film in the Community

This article by Kay Ogilvie, Derbyshire Film fieldworker, describes how the tradition of cinema going can be sustained in small towns and villages and the positive effect this has on social cohesion. Click here to download the PDF and read the full story.

Dual in the Crown

Andy O’Hanlon, Arts Officer for South Cambridgeshire, outlines the benefits of dual-use facilities in schools and community centres at a time of budget constraints. Download Click here to download the PDF and read the full story.

Liverpool Arts – A World Turned Upside Down

In 2008 nalgao asked Phil Taylor, Arts Development Manager for Liverpool City Council whether and how Liverpool’s Capital of Culture Programme was changing the way the Local Authority delivered its arts services and also what impact the year was having in the often invisible domain of community provision. This article outlines the radical effect of the 2008 Capital of Culture programme on arts provision in Liverpool. Click here to read part 1: Download the PDF to read the full story

Click here to read part 2: Download the PDF to read the full story

A Dream of an EventRunga Rung - Bournemouth

Emergency Exit Arts’ Runga Rung also visited Bournemouth. The local authority had three clear aims in bringing them in: with three clear aims: to raise the profile of good quality participatory arts work in Bournemouth; to highlight how suitable the town centre is for this kind of event and, to persuade decision makers, sponsors, and the public that this could become an annual event with economic impacts to benefit the local economy. This article describes the experience and the outcomes. Click here to download the PDF and read the full story.

Crossing Boundaries – An Evaluation of the Greater Manchester Strategic Arts Fund

Eco gardenCrossing Boundaries describes how Arts Officers in the Greater Manchester area have worked together with a centralised funding pot to create a number of participative arts project with a range of social and economic outcomes for their areas. Click here to download the PDF and read the full story.


Inspiring By Degrees

A report on Bishop Grosseteste College, Lincoln, which  is leading the way in providing vocational, work-based training degrees for the cultural sector. Click here to download the PDF and read the full story.


Arts & Well-being: 2 Case Studies from Creative Encounters

 Now and Then (2010)

Developed in partnership between Collective Encounters (a professional arts organisation specialising in theatre for social change) and PSS (national health and social care provider) Now and Then was an innovative project which explored the impact of dementia on carers. The project involved substantial research with people with dementia and their carers in Merseyside and resulted in our Third Age Theatre company producing a 40 minute interactive theatre piece which was performed to health care professionals, health and social care students, at PSS’s Carers Convention and at the National Pensioners Parliament.  The piece raised awareness of the challenging situation facing family carers and highlighted significant problems in relation to the health care profession.

The project research demonstrated several gaps in provision, most importantly:

  • that there are very few opportunities for people with dementia and their carers to do anything fun and rewarding together
  • there are very few creative opportunities for residents in care homes in Merseyside
  • that carers would like to take a more creative approach, and recognise the impact that creative interventions can have on people with dementia, but don’t know how

The project was fully evaluated and a report on the process, product and impact can be downloaded here:

Live and Learn (2011 – 2014)

Live and Learn was developed arising from those findings, and through wider research internationally into the impact and value of creative work with people with dementia.  This is a three year project funded mostly through Baring Foundation.

Live and Learn will bring together third age volunteers with professional artists and dementia specialists to develop new models of creative reminiscence to engage people with dementia.  Crucially, these models will be ones that can be used by carers in their daily routines.  Working both in care homes and in the community we will test new ideas and draw on international best practice; providing creative interventions for people with dementia and on-the-job training for professional and family carers.  The project will also involve some performance work, with our Third Age Theatre Company producing theatre to highlight the issues and articulate the stories they encounter through the process.

We will also have a series of stakeholder events at which we disseminate our findings, share our ideas and facilitated debate with the wider community.  The first event will be held on 2nd November and will involve presentations by David Clegg (whose work Ancient Mysteries was recently heard on Radio 4) and Karen Hayes, a poet-in-residence in several care homes and consultant on Live and Learn.  The event will also launch Live and Learn and involve discussion around arts and dementia with stakeholders from the health, arts and social care sectors.  If you would like further information please email

North Kent Local Authority Arts Partnership (NKLAAP)

The North Kent Local Authority Arts Partnership (NKLAAP) is a partnership of the Arts Services in Swale and Gravesham Borough Councils and Medway Unitary Authority.  It was established in 2003 as one of 12 regional partnerships initiated by Arts Council England, South East.

Under the banner of NKLAAP, the Arts Teams from Gravesham, Medway and Swale meet regularly to plan and manage joint projects.  Currently, we are managing Encounter, a programme of artistic commissions happening across urban areas of North Kent, from July to October 2011.  This project, like others before it, is part funded by partners’ subscriptions, and part funded by external funding.  Previous projects have included Hei People by Reijo Kela (2007 – 2009), a series of 646 scarecrowesque figures made from wood, straw and dirt; Moon View by Stephen Turner (2008), an exploration of the night-time environment of the ‘wilder’ parts of Gravesham, Medway and Swale; and Dance 4 Your Life (2009) a dance and health programme especially designed for young people aged 14 years old.

One of the key benefits of the partnership is that it enables Arts Services across the region to pool our financial resources, and carry out larger pieces of work than would otherwise be possible.  However, none of the Arts Officers involved has the capacity to manage the projects ourselves – NKLAAP represents only a part of each authority’s Arts provision.  Instead, we hire freelance project managers to work across the group.  As well as protecting Arts Officers’ time, this model also enables our project managers to focus on NKLAAP’s work in a concentrated way.  In fact, in 2008 Paivi Seppala – then Arts Development Officer for Medway Council – took a secondment to manage Hei People.  Having seen the artist’s work in her native Finland, Paivi thought it would make a big impact on audiences in rural Kent.  She was right – the piece went on to win the Rouse Public Art Award in 2009.

For a project the size and scope of Encounter, which includes public art commissions embedded in socially engaged practice, alongside a programme of talks and discussions, NKLAAP has appointed two project managers.  Creative Producer Mary Paterson fundraised for Encounter and led the commissioning process, while Project Co-ordinator Michelle Chorley joined the team at the delivery stage.  We have learnt that this approach means NKLAAP can supervise the project, whilst still offering local knowledge when it’s needed.  For example, while I supported the development of Akademi’s new dance piece for Sheerness-on-Sea – including its role in the inaugural Promenade festival of local arts and heritage – my colleagues at Medway Council supported the dance and architecture collaboration ON/OFF, by h2dance and What if: projects, which took place in a disused car showroom in Chatham.

This shared, collaborative approach between NKLAAP partners also helps to deal with the fact that we face very different working pressures – the arts teams at Gravesham, Medway and Swale have different structures, remits and areas of expertise.  As Arts Officer for Swale Borough Council, it is my job to oversee all provision in the borough, working closely with the artist-led project Art at the Centre.  Meanwhile, Medway Council’s Arts Team includes two permanent and two part time employees, with a specific focus on artists’ development, dance and youth provision.   Gravesham Borough Council’s Arts Service, in turn, has a strong heritage remit.

Although the NKLAAP partnership could – in theory – be a source of conflict between officers with different priorities and cultural strategies, it includes another element that is crucial to its success: peer support.   NKLAAP is not just an opportunity to pool our money, but also to share experiences and practices between the officers involved.  In fact, I would say that the relationships fostered in the partnership are at least as important in terms of peer support as they are in terms of financial capacity.  As the only Arts Officer at Swale Borough Council, for example, I find that regular contact with my colleagues in Gravesham and Medway is an important professional resource.

That is not to say that we don’t have differences of opinion.  The commissioning process for Encounter, in which we received nearly 200 applications for six opportunities, involved representatives from each borough, as well as from Kent County Council and the Creative Producer, finding common ground.  Together, we had to navigate our different levels of knowledge and experience working with conceptual and collaborative practices in the public realm.  The process highlighted the differences in our approaches, particularly, for instance, in discussions about the relationship between community engagement and a finished work of art. But it also demonstrated just how keen we are to find positive ways of working together.  Ultimately, we agreed on six artistic commissions that not only fit the remit of Encounter, but also meet the varied needs of the partnership – which reflects the varied needs of the communities for whom we work.

Like other local authority partnerships, NKLAAP was initiated by Arts Council England, and until recently involved an officer from ACE as well as an officer from Kent County Council.  Over time, those organisations have stepped back, but NKLAAP is still going strong.  Everyone in the arts or the public sector is facing an uncertain future at the moment – as budget cuts must be made within local authorities, we are acutely aware that Culture is not a statutory provision.  None of us can be sure what will happen to NKLAAP in the future, but it is a priority of ours to be ambitious and keep trying new things.  So we do know that the future – whatever it holds – will not be the same as the past.