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Connecting Communities

“I’ve met new people and I feel part of something. I lost my job last year and was feeling down having come out of Covid, I felt quite insular but this helped me to make new friends.” Participant, Sileby Good Companions Group

Connecting communities together was a key part of the Cultural Communities Network programme. Our approach has been unique. We stepped into the unknown and embraced new audiences whether that be visitors, volunteers, trustees, mentors, or partners. Our participating organisations have supported communities to become stronger using a wide range of cultural and creative activities as the catalyst.  Together we helped to build stronger and more resilient communities.

  • How our projects connected communities
    • Relationships were at the heart of each project both professional and personal
    • Listening and sharing of people’s stories – through conversations and activities
    • Encouraged people to think creatively and deepen their connection to other participants and the local area
    • Activities supported people to connect to each other and look out for each other
    • Activity was developed by those who know their community best
    • Inclusive opportunities which actively reduced barriers and challenges
    • Opportunities for further connections were considered throughout
  • Challenges we want to share
    • Limited opening hours, social distancing restrictions and anxiety linked to covid
    • Diversity of differing needs within communities
    • Cultural venues not connecting with, or sure how to connect with certain sections of their community
    • The level and type of support needed varied within each cultural venue depending on their individual structure and teams
    • Inability or reluctance to think outside the box (“we do what we’ve always done”).
    • Uncertainty / anxiety/ lack of confidence about the potential for a new activity or offer
  • How we overcame them
    • Adapting activities to be socially distanced or delivered online
    • Connecting venues with partners that already knew the communities and had an understanding of the diversity of differing needs within them e.g. existing volunteers, Local Area Co-ordinators, GP Social Prescribers, District Council wellbeing teams, Parish Councils, special interest community groups etc.
    • Using the grant funding to commission expert freelancers to deliver elements of the project which in turn created additional capacity for the cultural venue
    • Reviewing activities offered to communities and co-producing new activities for target audiences
    • Being open to new ideas and not having a fixed agenda or mindset
    • Building relationships and trust by sharing lived experiences, person by person
    • Encouraging groups of people to come together when a common interest had been identified
    • Promoting offer to the audience through traditional and non-traditional methods such as social media advertising, targeted leaflet drops, film, presentations, taster workshops.
    • Evaluation data from attendees to guide future activities
    • Ensure regular time for reflection and evaluation of activities
  • How ‘connecting communities’ through culture could impact your venue and community
    • Builds capacity and resilience
    • Supports local people of all ages and backgrounds to connect, share and learn together
    • Deepens connections to a sense of self and the local area
    • Creates thriving and integrated places and spaces where people support each other and take pride in their local area
    • Supports the sustainability of your cultural venue, enabling it to be a thriving hub in the heart of its community
    • New vision and capacity opens up opportunities for new funding streams
  • Take some time to read our case studies