The Arts and Social Change Evaluation closes this strand of the 3 year Citizen Power Peterborough programme of work across the city.
The current debates on the value of the arts and creative practice in the civic sphere and how this value can be articulated, and indeed, measured has been timely as this programme has matured. Citizen Power Peterborough offered quite a unique opportunity to look at building capacity for innovation within both the arts and non-arts communities and explore how the two might be linked.
How could we connect innovative practice in the arts with the desire to innovate outside the arts? What might be the distinctiveness of Peterborough as part of a wider ecosystem of cultural innovation? What are the spaces that enable something to happen? How do we expose the gap between what we say we want and what we do that invites a willingness to change? Many of our partner artists spoke about the art of invitation in their work. How can the arts encourage a willingness to alter behavioural patterns? And what is it that Peterborough can offer the broader creative and cultural ecology of the U.K.? It is hoped that Arts and Social Change in Citizen Power has contributed to understanding how these questions might be answered in the future.
We have always emphasized the word ‘and’ within our title, Arts and Social Change in the belief that it is possible to do both. This programme was realized at the same time as the RSA pamphlet, Arts Funding, Austerity and the Big Society which ended with the following words:
…public funding for the arts is not simply about investing in opportunities and experiences today, it is about creating the infrastructure of aspirations and expectations for the social economy of tomorrow. Art is not just there for itself. Nor is it there just to deliver other kinds of social good: it helps us to re-imagine the good life in the good society. The idea of the good life and enhanced citizenship must include challenge and edge. Active citizens are difficult, demanding and idealistic. We must never lose a willingness to fund art that is too.