|NINETY-nine per cent of those who took part in the second phase of The Cultural Spring would recommend the arts project to others.
The remarkable statistic was among many other positives included in an independent evaluation of the project, funded by Arts Council England’s (ACE) Creative People and Places programme, and aimed at increasing participation in arts and culture in Sunderland and South Tyneside.
The research was completed by external evaluators CoLibra and covered the second phase of The Cultural Spring, 2017-2020.
Over that period, the project engaged with nearly 19,000 people; held 180 creative workshops; 37 Go and See trips which introduced people to new arts experiences; supported 82 community-based Your Art projects; produced six large-scale events and completed three research studies.
“It was an extremely busy three years,” said Project Director Emma Horsman. “We’re a small team but working together with people in our communities and project partners, we produced an exciting range of activities, events and visits.”
The Cultural Spring was launched in 2014, with funding of £2m from ACE to work in ten council wards across Sunderland and South Tyneside that didn’t traditionally engage with arts and culture. Its second phase attracted £1m of funding and moved into ten new wards: Hendon, Millfield, Pallion, Sandhill and St Anne’s in Sunderland, and Horsley Hill, Beacon and Bents, Simonside and Rekendyke, Monkton and Bede in South Tyneside.
“We got to know our new communities very well, helped hugely by our 125 community champions and 74 volunteers,” said Emma.
“While we were delighted with the range of activities we produced and the numbers involved, what we’re particularly proud of is the outcomes reported by our participants,” she added.
CoLibra’s evaluation figures included the following statements about participants:
· 77% reported their wellbeing had improved
· 78% said they were more connected
· 77% said were more active
· 85% had learned new skills
· 96% said their confidence had increased
· 66% had increased pride in the area
· 93% had an appetite for future arts engagement
· 99% would recommend the project to others
“We’re also very proud of our connections into our communities. We were made to feel welcome into all ten of our Phase Two communities, and hope to continue working with them, as well as our six new communities in Phase Three,” said Emma.
The project’s third phase began last month (April) and those new communities are: Ryhope, Doxford and Silksworth in Sunderland and Hebburn North, Hebburn South and Primrose in South Tyneside.
Graeme Thompson, Chair of The Cultural Spring Steering Group, said: “This extensive evaluation is further proof that communities given the chance to work with crafts people, artists and performers will always embrace the opportunity. And that is at the heart of The Cultural Spring’s ethos.
“The Cultural Spring team should be proud of this report and the impact the project has had in its communities. It’s a very small team, but has had a massive impact on both Sunderland and South Tyneside. Amid all the great activity was a tremendous level of support for local artists and arts organisations.
“Our team was also very successful in attracting other financial support. For every £1 invested by ACE in The Cultural Spring, that funding secured an additional £1.05 to support and enhance further arts and culture work across Sunderland and South Tyneside. The report also talks about our legacy, and as in Phase One, we launched new arts groups and organisations that are now self-sustaining.
“By any measure, our second phase was successful and we look forward to Phase 3.”
The Cultural Spring’s four core partners are the University of Sunderland; The Customs House, South Shields, Sunderland’s Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust and Sangini, a women’s health organisation.