The story of how the arts can make a difference to quality of life told through the voices of participants.
This booklet takes look at the work of Liverpool Arts Regeneration Consortium (LARC) in North Liverpool and how the various organisations involved are impacting on the life of the residents through engagement in the arts. It reveals how, within the framework of Liverpool’s 2010 Year of Health and Wellbeing; the arts can make a distinct contribution to people’s quality of life. We hear direct from those involved what the experience was like for them and how it has made a difference to their cultural lives. Part two provides an insight into the long standing cultural community in North Liverpool and how the projects in part one brought about change through participation with the city centre based cultural organisations of LARC.
Friendships are essential to our lives, from the first day at school to retirement party and beyond. Research shows that having a strong network of friends is key to people’s happiness, wellbeing and health. Being involved in arts programmes is one way of meeting new people. The, often intense, experiences of sharing creative work or performing in front of strangers can make lasting bonds between people who did not know one another at the start. Young people taking part in Liverpool Lighthouse’s Harmonize urban arts programme spoke warmly of the friendships they’d made, often unexpectedly. On the day of his graduation, Callum (one of 65 young people being awarded education qualifications), explained:
‘I made a lot of new friends here. It’s nearly me third year and I grew a bond with everyone and I’m going to miss them, even though they get on me nerves sometimes – this is me last day and I’m really going to miss it.’
Callum is going on to a job in the city centre and now has a place at college. Older people also value the social side of their art activities. Anna is retired and takes classes at Merseyside Dance Initiative, going to the Playhouse when she can, as well as singing in a choir. Much as she enjoys learning and performing, it’s not everything:
‘The other thing is, of course, from these classes and sessions that we do, [is that] you get to know people; so it’s a social thing and we go for lunch, we go away for the weekend, we go out for the day.’
Alan, also retired, is working on a digital storytelling project with tenantspin, a community media project managed by FACT with Arena Housing. He feels his social circle has grown as a result of being involved:
‘The people I’ve met are very interesting; […] a couple are older than myself, and they’ve got their stories to tell.’