Here are some key outcomes from our work with three schools in St Neots from 2016-18.
- 9,191 hours of participatory arts activities with 95% of these having taken place in non-arts venues (community centres, schools, woods, playgrounds, orchards, village greens, churches, market squares, Rowing clubs and libraries).
- 103 creative participatory sessions, delivered through 28 partnerships and in more than 18 places across Cambridgeshire
- 20 performances or exhibitions, with 921 performance or exhibition days
- 20 new products and commissions
We connected with:
- 2,752 participants and co-creators (children, educators, arts, cultural and conservation professionals, local community members and volunteers) with 65% of these from an area with known ‘deprivation hot spots’
- 22,014 audience members with 90% of these from an area with known ‘deprivation hot spots’
- 68,000 people online
We thought about how:
- Placing children at the centre of the work and carefully listening to them gives them a voice and enables them to confidently develop creative skills
- Working in familiar community settings and in non-arts locations means that more people will actively engage with the work and widens participation
- Offering high quality, multiple and disciplinary art forms enables a much broader engagement with a range of participants
- Working collaboratively and valuing input from everyone transforms relationships
- Being involved in a process in which you can experiment rather than a fixed output is empowering
- Working alongside communities takes time and a deeper and more sustainable relationship is enabled by longer term programming
- There is a huge sense of pride in being a part of a collaborative artwork
Fantastical Cambridgeshire is helping us understand better the critical role that locality, art and artists play in developing children’s creativity and cultural entitlement. As a direct result of this project:
- 83% of adults* interviewed think that children have become more connected with the local landscape / culture / arts
- 75% of adults* interviewed think that children are connecting more creatively to their local area
- 71% of adults* interviewed think that children have the confidence to think differently
- 71% of adults* interviewed think that children are making new and different connections
* Educators, artists, governors, parents, community partners
The children now see themselves and each other differently and have embraced taking the lead and ongoing creative adventures of their own.Here’s how some of those involved described the impact on the children they were working with:
I think the children having the freedom and the chance to explore, to direct their own learning was really refreshing. (Teacher)
The children were allowed to experiment, they had the freedom to use their own ideas (Educator)
The adults involved were also changed by the process:
The work being guided and not prescribed – this was learning for some teachers (Head Teacher)
Miss Abbott became more creative (Child)
Our teachers are more adventurous (Child)
Mr C has made it feel a lot more different – the way he makes us think (Child)
It is nice for children to be able to be creative thinking with no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ (Teacher)
Gives children and the wider community a greater sense of the history of the area, better sense of the area belonging to them, greater appreciation of art's role in society (Dad)
I think of community building as a very deliberate process - buildings and community spaces are not going to do it alone. [This project] works with the power of storytelling…not much sense of shared stories in this new community….we need places and opportunities to bump into each other and connect. Fantastical Cambridgeshire was wonderful to have conversations around…communities needing bumping into spaces and the art has done this. We bring our personalities to bare (on our work together) - joy, not solemn, positivity… a shared vision of desire for Love’s Farm House to be a generator of good news stories (Local resident).
Many thanks to all our wonderful partners:
Schools: Eynesbury Church of England School; Offord Primary School; Round House Primary School; Milton Road Primary School. Community Groups and organisations: Free cakes for kids; St Mary the Virgin, the Parish Church of Eynesbury; Offord parish Council; All Saints Church, Offord; Love’s Farm Junior Youth Club; Love’s Farm Community Association; Love’s Farm house Community Centre; Love’s Farm Community Church. Cultural: The Neotists artist collective; Vir2oso creative youth club; St Neots Museum; St Neots Library; Cambridge University Botanic Garden; Festival of Ideas, University of Cambridge Public Engagement; Emmanuel College, Cambridge; Bath Festival (International Festival of Childhood and Forest of Imagination); University of Cambridge’s Museum of Zoology; Cambridge Conservation Initiative. Commercial: St Neots Tesco Community Team. Strategic: Locality Teams, Cambridgeshire County Council; Cambridgeshire Culture Fund; Cambridgeshire County Council; Arts Council, England; Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education; Anglia Ruskin University; Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.
And to all the artists working on the projects: Elena Arevalo Melville, Hilary Cox Condron, Helen Stratford, Filipa Pereira-Stubbs, Sally Todd, and Deb Wilenski.
The work was supported by Arts Council England and our partners and advisors include Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridgeshire Culture, the Ernest Cook Trust, University of Cambridge and Cambridge Conservation Initiative.