The Difference We Make
"I felt like I was really part of something very special."
We know that taking part in creative activities can improve people's confidence and wellbeing. Evaluation of our 2021-2 Thriving Communities wellbeing programme found statistically significant improvements in participants' life satisfaction and sense of doing worthwhile activities.
Read the full evaluation report (2022).
Participants in our projects often tell us they feel more confident and happier. People with chronic mental and physical health conditions tell us the activities can help to improve their quality of life.
"The group is more family than friends. I feel more confident and fulfilled, and have something to take my mind to a happy safe place. Something I want to get out of bed for."
Creativity in Crisis participant feedback (2020).
Our staff and board are all local to this area and care about it passionately. We listen to people and work with them to create the culture they feel is important, which has been everything from a Christmas tree to an opera about regeneration. As well as performances, events and installations, our projects have supported people to start their own choirs, gardening projects and community groups. We also support the local economy by employing local artists, businesses, community groups and venues.
Watch a film about our work in Dene Valley (2021)
People tell us the creative activities make them feel differently about where they live:
"It was lovely seeing the community engaging in a positive way. It was also evident that the local people share a real passion for the area."
More Than Viable participant feedback (2019)
Participatory and community-led creative practice requires skill, technique and experience. We value the amazing artists and creatives we work with, and aim to support emerging artists, giving people opportunities so they can make a living in this rural area. We work with local artists as much as possible, we pay Artists' Union recommended rates, and we provide training and networking opportunities to help build careers.
Watch a conversation between participatory artists about so-called 'hard to reach' communities (2020)
"[The training] helped clarify my thoughts about my work and express myself more clearly. It introduced new ideas about how to price applications and who I could apply to."
Artists' Training & Development Network, participant feedback (2021)
WORKING FOR CHANGE
We know that change doesn't just happen from the grassroots, and that many of the issues people face are due to policy decisions made far away. This is why we work to improve connections between the arts and non-arts sectors, and share our learning about working with communities. We sit on regional groups and networks, our performances and films have been shown to policy makers and funders, and whenever possible we bring people face-to-face, so that those who make decisions can speak directly with those are affected by them.
Watch the film of a project that brought together farmers and conservationists (2021)
Our partners and stakeholders have included the Town and Country Planning Association, Durham County Council, Failte Ireland, North Pennines AONB, Natural England, Durham Dales Health Network, Tees Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust, Durham University, Newcastle University, Believe Housing and Visit County Durham.