Creative People and Places and its impact on artistic practice

Creative People and Places and its impact on artistic practice

By Creative People and Places Network


From Small Shifts to Profound Changes written by Elizabeth Lynch and Miriam Nelken is an in-depth exploration of Creative People and Places (CPP) and its impact on artistic practice.

Excerpt from the Executive Summary

What is the impact of Creative People and Places on artistic practice?

CPP teams and artists observed and reflected on a range of impacts in their practice - some small shifts and some more profound changes - as a result of the CPP commissions. Artists and CPP teams reported a clear shift in the power dynamic between themselves and local participants, to a more equal footing, which they found motivating and refreshing in terms of their social and ethical values. CPP teams and artists sense that their commissions are influencing the wider status and value of social engaged artistic practice. Many commented on the level of investment in socially engaged practice that has been made by Arts Council England and the wish to see the practice ‘mainstreamed’ rather than part of what are perceived by them as ‘peripheral’ funding streams.

Several artists described how CPP commissions had made direct impacts on their artistic practice, e.g. experimenting with new art forms, working on a larger scale, relocation and artistic growth. Placing a high value on socially engaged practice, giving confidence to artists who co-create with communities, validating and supporting the artists development - these are all perceived by CPPs and artists as the positive impacts of their approach to commissioning artists to make new socially engaged, participatory work.

This research has highlighted the importance of asking artists about the influence on their practice through working with CPP Places and what they think of the work they make. An ideal next step to this research would be to interview a larger sample of artists across the wide range of art forms and scales of work commissioned, including a control group who have been commissioned by other agencies - for example by organisations funded by Arts Council England as part of its National Portfolio (NPOs).

Several artists talked about the significance of this considerable body of work commissioned by CPP Places, supported by Arts Council England, and asked ‘What happens to the art afterwards?’ They expressed strong views about how little critical attention was given to the art itself, as compared to the process of creating the art, thereby losing the potential both to impact artistic practice and to give more credibility to the field of socially engaged art.

Artists spoke about how the work they are making with communities in CPP Places is part of social history– created during a time when communities are experiencing the most acute social, political and cultural impacts of economic austerity. They talked about the importance of documenting this work and asked whether there should be a central archive of CPP art and a major curated CPP retrospective. CPP teams raised questions around how the work could be curated and shown effectively and authentically. The work commissioned by CPP Places is about time-based and interactive processes as well as ephemeral and tangible outcomes. Is there a different way of curating that kind of work?

40% of CPP Places surveyed have toured their new commissions nationally and two places internationally. This is impressive and suggests a demand for the kind of work Creative People and Places is creating. The use of digital platforms by some CPP Places has also served to expand the national and global reach of artists’ work. There is much potential scope to develop strategic partnerships and extend the artistic scope and audience reach of CPP projects.

Read the full report 

Creative People and Places is an Arts Council England funding programme which focuses on parts of the country where involvement in creativity and culture is significantly below the national average. More.

Resource type: Research | Published: 2022