Thanks for your further comments - really interesting and important questions, and ones that occupy me a lot in my work, but I can't say I've found the answers! Demonstrating the outcomes and understanding how to capture meaningful information about them is an ongoing and important debate in community arts. A lot of my work touches on that in some way or other.
For the healthy,social,creative project I wrote a couple of articles, one which was published in a nursing journal and had to go through a number of rigorous checks and redrafts for that reason, and largely to do with trying to demonstrate cause-effect: which is just too simplistic a way to measure/understand the value of creativity/arts. I have various articles I could post and/or point people too where they're not mine.
Mike White's work at the Centre for Medical Humanities is really interesting in this context, and would be of interest to this community as he focuses on the importance of social connectedness aspect of arts/creativity.
Some important research on the subject was 'Use or Ornament?' the social impact of participation in the arts by Francois Matarasso of Comedia published in 1997. There are gazillions of evaluation reports conducted by arts organisations, and a good few guidance books/documents published by eg the various Arts Councils (and of course non-arts funding bodies), and various organisations representing different parts of the arts sector but not really one form of evaluation guidance/toolkit that's a 'must-read' for community arts.
I should also mention that Voluntary Arts does some valuable work in supporting non-professional/self-supporting arts groups (from quilters to choirs) in the community - www.voluntaryarts.org. I worked with them last year on an arts in health project - www.healthysocialcreative.org.uk. For me, creativity and culture / creative processes are essential to the health/wellbeing and development of individuals and communities.
Thanks for your comment. I'm interested in this area simply for my own learning/professional development - although I have no specific involvement in such a process at the moment, it's something that is/will affect the way arts/music/culture in general is delivered.
I'm always working on exciting projects - thanks for asking. In the last 6 months they've ranged from (currently) helping a music service with a funding bid for a music education hub (heralding massive change in the way music education is delivered - emphasising partnership working across sectors) to a profile-raising campaign for a community dance organisation to a funding bid for a befriending scheme for rurally isolated older people.
I'm happy to contribute to this forum from a comms/marketing and arts/creative sector perspective, as well as learn from it.
"It must be a double edged sword being part of the programme; on the one hand receiving valuable support, whilst on the other having to deliver results quickly. I guess when you're trying to build trust/reciprocal relationships you can't rush things?"
Twas ever thus though eh? There's always SOMEBODY expecting SOMETHING! It just needs some careful handling....I find predicting benefits of a co-prduced services that doesnt even exist somewhat of a challenge, but I constantly make the case to the funder the picture will evolve...
"What i find interesting about your Stockport project is it seems a genuinely cross-sector endeavour - about more than just generating cost savings for public purse. This is often the starting point for service transfers. I wonder how the public providers are adapting to this much more equitable partnership approach?"
I think it is service transfer of sorts. It might not have a name or a building, but we are giving folk an oportunity to devise some of their own solutions and negotate for power over their own recovery. I think everyone is clear that to co-produce a solution with people with mental health needs, it has to be wide and cross sectoral...that's ceryainly what people with those need say adamanetly! It cheered me know end that that was clear from the start...
"I think your commissioning example was great. Lots of questions. How did you convince senior managers to move to 3 year contracts? How did you help get community groups ready for more formal contract arrangements etc?"
Re managers: It wasnt't easey. I cited the COMPACT (remeber that??) and did a speal about lowering the risk (of groups going under + increased quality) and increasing the effciency (less faffing about!) In the end our accountant basically said "we can end these anytime anyway" and we ploughed on regardless! Took adantage of his harshness, knowing he'd only get invloved if there was a problem...
Re the groups: That was the most suprising. The folk who put themselves forward to help draw up the arrangemnet were admament about demonstrating quality. They felt it was a matter of pride, so were firmer about the standards that I had orginaly proposed. I also took a long view though; we teired our "hands on" support for groups (to suite their abilities and reslienace) and looked for incremenatal change over time. This was backed by training, so it was a full on approach...
The problem wih applying this to "transfer" is often one of "lead in". I've come across a couple of transfer cases (not personaly invloved - watching from a far) and it's all been a bit sudden! Finicial risks are often too high to "suck it and see"....
I am interested in looking at Transfer of Services now from a personal view. I worked most recently with a local council and part of my work was to research and write a report on transferring services to local Parish Councils. Interest being mixed as it very much depended on size and resources of the community. There was also a huge question over liabilities and sustainability.
I have since moved on but my interest is now more from the point of view as I have now become a Parish Councillor in a small rural parish. We are I'm the process of identifying community assets and to then consult with the community. As we have lost various services and others are under threat we are hoping to put plans in place to give us the opportunity to act and if viable look at running them as a community
I was interested in the transfer process because I am currently researching a project for my Masters' thesis, which is Wild boar: Friend or Foe? Examining the conflict of wild boar management in Erglu Novads (which is a region in Latvia where I live). The topic may seem unconnected but one of the problems highlighted in my research was the lack of State Forest workers due to cuts which makes many aspects of policing any new policies introduced with regards to wild boar management difficult. Wild boar have become a pest in our area.
The financial constraints are unlikely to go away and so the only option I can see is getting local communities on board to help. The very big problem is that there is very little in the way of voluntary cooperation with the State expected to run any monitoring activity and so there is a big cultural problem. People are also suspicious of working together and so building trust is extremely important. Transferring responsibilities to communities therefore is both necessary and challenging. Hope that helps to set the context.
My initial observation that there’s huge commitment to the project, but an inherent tension between the “messiness” of co-production and the need for a defined results and a managed, time limited change program. This project also exists in a time of massive change for health services – so people joining the project have the initial question “will this help me navigate through or just get me lost?” That’s being answered. Having service deliverers and service users sharing data and experience is helping build new relationships and revealing some new truths...my hope is that these emerging relationships/stories will help us through when things get complex!
Re Commissioning, I’ve had the pleasure of being part of some awful process and some very good ones. My absolute favourite was co-producing (with the community sector) a stable funding solution for play activities and it worked like this:
In the LA I works with, I managed a £30k grants pot (which was a lot in those days!) It was for community groups providing play activities We also ran a 3 times per year play forum, which everyone who got a grant attended. We all agreed that making annual applications to the grants pot was a waste of time, so we worked together to devise the following:
Move from an annual grant to a 3 year contract.
Contract would be awarded to groups who a) met minimal standards with regard police checks, training etc and b) applied a quality assurance framework based on the UN Convention on the rights of the child
A small number of community groups agreed to help be write the framework and the contract process, and it was written, agreed and launched in 6 months
They also agreed to “peer review” each other, to support the LA in establishing the quality of the provision.
It worked a treat. Saved a load of time, improved standards and relationships, (until I left! Nobody trusted the sector as much and I did!) When I could negotiate the space, I tried to deploy similar approaches and distilled it down to:
Review the data and stories together (stakeholders, funders, providers, users) and begin to build a “shared truth”.
Use the “shared truth” to establish a joint strategy and joint standards that shapes the future provision (sharing the decision making)
Be aspirational and challenging but trust in the ability of the funded organisation to change over time – u have to start where you are....
There are some additions and also had quite a few thoughts about local economic reliance and commissioning/de-commissioning too...run out of time tho...oops! Starter for 10?
Back in the day, I enaged in a number of co-production approaches (before it was called that!) around community space & commisioing services. I now find myself leading a mental health co-prodoction project and find I'm back on familier ground; same issues around power, authority, finance and coping with change. Its certainly an area where theory, pragamtics and polotics collide! I'll join the group and I'd be very willing to provide content and thoughts?
Let me know what your after. I't would be great to talk with someone who works in similar areas to me - its a lonley old world working for yourself!
Hi Tom, we have our first dozen volunteers recruited and we are so impressed with the calibre of the people who came forward. We are in the process now of matching them to members of our team who will act as their mentors and explore their training needs. I think it is going to be a lot of fun.
I'm working with David Gluck at the moment on a LEADER funded programme to recruit and support people have succeeded in making their own business or community service work and who may be keen to share their experiences and help others do the same. The programme
provides local small businesses and community organisations with financial support, advice and guidance, all with a view to promoting sustainable communities and increasing the resilience of communities. It operates across the Peak District LEADER Rural Action Zone, taking in rural areas across High Peak, Derbyshire Dales, Staffordshire Moorlands and a part of East Staffordshire (Weaver ward).
Hi Tom - yes conference tomorrow and it will be interesting to see what the punters make of the work and what topic is of most interest to them....funding, procurement, land and buildings or skills and training.
Lets hope the ferry is running!
looking for grants first and foremost. The centre has significant income raising potential but I want to keep that separate for now...apart from BIG Reaching Communities and Caird Bardon, is there anyone else blindingly obvious to approach? LCC and A&DPC will no doubt contribute small amounts...Also could think of private sponsors if pushed...Is it worth thinking about ERDF?