Be Creative, Be Well
Be Creative Be Well was developed and led by the Arts Council England and commissioned over 100 creative projects in the 20 phase 1 target areas. The project tapped into the strong cultural traditions in each area as a way of promoting health and well-being and ensured that creativity was incorporated across the Well London programme.
Over 3,300 residents took part in activities that included dance, community plays and choirs, poetry, wii music composition, story-telling, drawing and crafts making it one of the largest grass-roots arts programmes in this country.
Artists worked collaboratively with residents, sometimes physically transforming spaces. Others uncovered “hidden” histories; for example folk dancing in Canning Town, and challenged negative perceptions of the areas. All the projects helped people develop confidence and new skills, and promoted community cohesion by bringing people together to have fun and build new social networks.
Our community development approach meant that local residents played a key role in activities. Some discovered latent or unused creative skills, and worked alongside professionals to deliver activities and encourage other local people to take part. Wherever possible projects built in training opportunities for personal development and sustainability e.g. Green Shoes Arts in Barking & Dagenham trained young local people as dance instructors so they could take their skills into the local community.
The Arts Council learnt a huge amount about engaging with people in very disadvantaged areas and can pass this learning onto other arts institutions.