Learn from Made in Corby’s experience of engaging communities in the arts in this case study that focuses on approaches, successes and lessons learnt.
Made in Corby is a three year programme funded by Arts Council England's Creative People and Places Programme. It aims to engage more people in Corby than ever before in arts activities. In the context of low arts engagement and high poverty rates, the programme takes a community engagement approach which gives significant decision-making power to the community and invites people to explore, develop, review and take part in art in Corby. This entails bringing together local and external artists, amateurs and professionals as well as encouraging people to apply for funding to make their own artistic ideas a reality.
This case study of Made in Corby's community engagement approach draws on interviews with community members, local artists, consortium members and staff. Existing qualitative evaluations of various programme strands also provided rich evidence for this case study, which focuses on approaches, successes and lessons learnt in community engagement.
Based on case study interviews and local evaluation findings, the community-led approach to co-design, production and commissioning pursued by Made in Corby successfully built local ownership, capacity and supported audience development.
A very effective approach to community engagement involved collaboration between local people and professionals from inside and outside of Corby. Community members previously not engaged in the arts learnt how to commission and organise arts projects. Local audiences were drawn by the promise of seeing renowned artists or their fellow community members perform on stage. For the local performers themselves this approach enabled them to learn from other artists and build their skills, confidence and social networks.
Within 18 months of programme delivery, Made in Corby has drawn new audiences and enabled community members to become producers and organisers of art events. In order to reach deeper into the diverse communities of Corby, especially those previously unengaged and lacking cultural confidence, sustained efforts are needed.