ArtsChain is an informal network of participatory arts, community arts and socially engaged practitioners, based in the North of England. Its 90 members include freelance individuals and staff from arts organisations, some of whom are National Portfolio Organisations and some of whom are not. It meets monthly to discuss issues and share information and advice.

If you'd like to be informed when we hold our next meeting, please join our Mailing List here

The Importance of Participatory Arts – An Open Letter

This letter advocates for the important role of the participatory arts movement for the arts and culture in this country in the next ten years. It has been written to capture the views of smaller organisations and individuals working in this area as freelancers or micro-businesses.

We have now had responses from Arts Council England, Arts Council Wales, Arts Council Northern Island, Creative Scotland and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – please click 'Responses' below to read these, along with Artschain's response to each.

To Oliver Dowden (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport), Sir Nicholas Serota (Chair), Darren Henley (CEO) and all our colleagues and Board members at Arts Council England

We write on behalf of those working in the field of participatory arts, social engaged arts, and community arts who throughout the Covid-19 crisis have continued to work in solidarity with and at the heart of neighbourhoods, places & communities. Throughout this period we have continued to use the powerful tools of the arts to strengthen individual and community resilience, fulfil potential, share experiences and ensure that a diversity of voices are heard - as we have been doing for many years. This has rarely been more needed than in the present moment.

We are still excited at the possibilities for change that ‘Let’s Create’ opens up for England, our people, communities and places. We welcome the ambitious vision of living in a country ‘in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish, and where every one of us has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences’, a place of ‘healthy close-knit communities’ supported by a ‘cultural workforce representing contemporary England’. When it launched, we felt that the moment had come for genuine Cultural Democracy. It seemed that, at last, the importance and vitality of those organisations and practitioners who support and enable the creativity and cultural production of all citizens was placed at the centre and heart of the long-term strategy for culture and creativity in this country. This was significant progress for our sector.

You have responded with purpose and urgency to the immediate crisis which the cultural sector is facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As we enter this new period of what you describe as ‘Stabilisation’ there are some key issues we would ask you to consider and act upon.

We would like to take this moment to remind you that, in our view, the ambitions of ‘Let’s Create’ cannot be delivered without a community of skilled participatory arts practitioners and arts organisations working both within and outside of institutions to create environments for diverse people of all ages and generations in our villages, rural areas, towns and cities to engage in making their own culture. We are using the powerful tools of the arts to equip people to fulfil their potential, share their experiences and to make their voices heard and have been doing so for many years.

We can share countless examples of transformative practices from all over the country. We are delivering ground-breaking artistic work with older people in care homes, making empowering theatre with learning disabled people, developing the visual arts skills of prisoners, offering incredible opportunities for children and young people inside and outside formal education, improving the health and wellbeing of people experiencing mental health issues and creating mind-blowing dance with BAME young people. We are often working for social justice, in the margins and edges of society, with those who haven’t traditionally had a voice and with those who have been hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and are likely to be badly affected by the economic recession. We are embedded in places and communities and have enduring relationships built on trust and a deep understanding of their challenges. Our work will be crucial in contributing to social recovery post Covid 19. Added to this is the fact that our sector has historically been at the forefront of artistic and cultural innovation, which has then been hugely influential in the mainstream. Without our work, how will the mainstream ensure that they are relevant? Those whom we work with are generating the culture of tomorrow. We are fundamental to the ambition in Let’s Create’ which proposes that, as a nation, by 2030, we could experience universal levels of cultural participation in all parts of our diverse country.

We know that there are competing demands on your attention and there will be difficult decisions to make about which organisations will be supported as part of your ‘Stabilisation’ phase and beyond. Given this landscape, we welcome your stated intention to ‘protect the full range and diversity of our thriving cultural sector in ‘Let’s Create’. We ask that you hold onto your commitment to invest in the participatory arts sector in these difficult times as you look towards the NPO application round in 2021 and the final ‘Rest’ stage of recovery. We are urging you to give serious consideration to how the freelance workforce and network of small and even micro-organisations who make up the participatory arts sector can best be supported and we would like to suggest a Three-Point Plan which we believe would help to protect those who work in this area and underpin the ambitions of Let’s Create’:

1. Continue talking: There is a real need to consult with a more diverse range of people and organisations from the sector. We know ACE has held ‘Sector Recovery sessions’ about participatory practice, but the format has been quite restricted and those who’ve participated have tended to be those with whom ACE has regularly worked and those in sector-support roles. We think it would be of greater value to have more open-ended conversations, to mine beneath already established groups and bring in new voices, young voices, more diverse voices. These conversations could identify what freelancers and micro-enterprises really need to do in order that they can continue to work through this period of ‘social distancing’ and what resources and guidelines they need to safely begin to offer participatory arts activities (outdoors and indoors). There is also scope for ACE to engage with informal peer-to-peer networks like Artschain and Artworks Alliance which are self-organised but offer an infrastructure for the sector to begin to build a stronger professional support for resilience.

2. Identify specific funds: ACE should develop specific well-funded support programmes with flexible models which will enable this sector to develop their community leadership skills and build the resilience they need to continue their work to meet the challenges of the 21st century. There is an urgent need to build some sort of support package for individual creative participatory arts freelance practitioners, who are at huge risk of losing their livelihoods or resorting to work in other sectors, thereby losing their knowledge and experience altogether. While this is also being asked by other sectors (e.g. theatre industry) the needs of this workforce are likely to be distinct and would easily be revealed in a well-framed set of conversations.

3. Help strengthen the sector: One of ACE’s action plans / delivery plans should focus on strengthening and broadening the participatory arts sector, addressing long-standing sector issues around working conditions, fair pay, diversity, dangers of professional burnout and continuing professional development and inspiration. The NPO application process should also involve asking core questions about what this portfolio of organisations will do to support continual professional development, employment and contracting of those who work in the sector, with ACE requesting specific plans in this area.

This is an initial outline plan of action, co-created by the signatories below. It would be a stimulus for further conversations and not an end destination. The ultimate goal would be to make this sector stronger, fit-for-purpose and ready to work alongside people and places and other partner organisations to shape our future cultural lives in our fast-changing country.

You will already know about the value and richness of this sector and the way these practices, now highly developed, improve people’s lives and build more inclusive communities and places. We have, however, asked each individual and organisations signing this letter to add (if they can) a link to their website which will help to illustrate the points we make in this letter.

We want to work in partnership with you and other relevant funding and development agencies, local authorities, Trusts and Foundations and civil society organisations to give an enormous boost to this sector who are crucial for the cultural ecology of this nation and to get to a point where our 64 million artists feel they are truly ‘creative people living in cultural communities in a creative country’

We would welcome a further online conversation with you to talk through what we have laid out in brief in this letter and a formal response to this letter. Please reply to We look forward to hearing from you.

The undersigned individuals and organisations are in support of this statement and the action plan laid out in this letter:

Gerri MoriartyFreelance Arts Consultant 
Stella BarnesCreative Director, Community Arts Northwest 
Alison JeffersSenior Lecturer in Drama, University of Manchester 
David McFarlane Freelance musician and workshop 
Adam AnnandAssociate Director, London Bubble 
Sue CaudleArtistic Director, DIY Theatre Company 
Hebe ReillyYouth Arts Coordinator, DIY Theatre Company 
Sarah AtterFreelance Musician and workshops leader 
Stella Duffy Co-director & co-founder Fun Palaces/community culture 
Emily EdwardsFreelance Youth Arts Facilitator  
Emily HarwoodLearning and Participation Manager, The 
Saul HewishArtistic Director, Rideout (Creative Arts for Rehabilitation) 
Martin GoodingCreative Producer, B 
Siobhan WedgeworthFreelance Community Art Facilitator, Inclueless Theatre  
Susan ClarkeArtistic Director, B 
Dan WigginsArtist  
Lynne PayneCreative Practitioner, Rotten Park 
Penny VincentStoke Sings and Freelance 
Gemma ThomasDirector, 
Helen Snashall Community Development Manager, Fegg Hayes Futures   
Julie Williams Foster Carer  
Isla TelfordCo-Director, Urban 
David Amigoni Professor of English, Keele University   
Ceri MorganSenior Lecturer, English and Creative Writing (Keele University)  
Sara DomvilleCultural Education Manager, Curious 
Stephen PritchardCommunity artist, academic, activist and 
François MatarassoCommunity Artist and 
Rose ChorltonGeneral Manager, Spare 
Adrian SinclairCo-Director, UNION: The Northern School for Creativity and Activism 
Ed CarrollCommunity arts worker, Blue 
Simon RudingDirector participatory arts 
Jên AngharadParticipatory & Community Movement & Dance  
Rachel McMurrayFreelance Applied Theatre 
Chris TwiggCEO and Creative Director, ArtLink 
Mike StubbsCreative Director, Doncaster Creates 
Richard HayhowDirector, Open 
Bobby SmithAssistant Professor of Theatre and Performance, Warwick University  
Zorazelda KingEmerging Community Arts Practitioner & Theatre maker (freelance / self-employed)  
Anya RyanBBC, Television  
Natalie JodeExecutive Director, Creative Arts 
Maggie B GaleProfessor of Theatre, University of Manchester  
Phil ShepherdCommunity Engagement Ambassador, Somerset 
Cathy WestbrookDevelopment Director, Moving Memory 
Fergal McCulloughCEO, Manchester Men's 
Rebecca FrankenbergCreative Producer, B 
Amy G CunninghamBoard member, 
Fiona WattPerformance designer/community producer/educator, Society of British Theatre and 
Max MayChief Executive Officer, Rural 
Matt WardleCreative Producer (drama-in-education), NorthWest 
John Fox, MBEArtist and Cultural Provocateur, Welfare State International / Dead Good 
James Thompson Professor of Applied Theatre (University of Manchester) 
Rosie ThackerayWorkshop Facilitator - Participatory Arts  
Paul HineDirector, Made By 
Kristina BorgSocially Engaged Artist, Arts educator/lecturer 
Cara LooijParticipatory arts practitioner  
Stephen Osmond Trustee, TiPP  
Caroline Jeyaratnam-JoynerTheatre Arts Consultant, Theatre Arts Yoga Ayurveda  
Sarah RogersArtistic Director & Arts Associate , Ransack Dance and 
Joyce IwaszkoArtist/Director, DUST Rising 
Anne KinnairdLead Artist/Socially Engaged Artist, Festival 
Emma TompkinsFreelance theatre designer and community project producer  
Annabel LawMental health creative facilitator, The Children's society   
Kate McCoyArtistic Director, Small Performance 
Zoe BrennanDesigner/ Artist - performance, participation, public art  
Tom HoganArtistic Director, Proud and Loud 
Adrian DakersFreelance artist / self-employed  
Jakki MooreFounder and Director of The Beggar's Theatre and Moore Arts: Millom 
Abdul ShayekArtistic Director, 
Jessica BoatrightFreelance Creative Project Manager  
Markus HetheierReporting and fundraising, Contact  
Julia Walker Costume/prop maker/ 
Jenna C. AshtonLecturer & Programme Director, Heritage Studies/ artist & curator University of Manchester
Freya ParryFreelance/recent arts graduate  
Ralph ListerExecutive Director, Take Art 
Chloe SeniorDance Artist  
Mary MorrisWorkshop Facilitator - Participatory Arts  
Jenny SmithArtistic Director/ Freelance Creative Producer, Curiosity Productions  
Annie WoodsonFilmmaker, TripleDotMakers 
Harriet RowleySenior Lecturer in Education & Community, Manchester Metropolitan University  
Cath JamesArtistic Director, SouthEast Dance 
Julia VoceTheatre Artist and Practitioner (freelance)  
Graham JefferyProfessor in Arts and Media Practice, University of the West of Scotland 
Magdalena MosesCreative Producer, ArtLink Hull 
Lily Brittain Student, University of Manchester  
Annette BurghessExecutive Producer, Collective Encounters 
Abbie Cooper Freelance Actor  
Richard AbernethyDeputy Chair, Irlam & Cadishead Community Festival 
Carmen SalasCultural Producer  
Arti Prashar Freelance Asian director/artist  
Anamaria WillsArts Advisor, Cultural Transitions  
Sara LeeArtistic Director, Irene Taylor Trust 
Elizabeth Lynch, MBEParticipatory Arts Advisor  
Dr Nick Owen, MBECEO, The Mighty Creatives 
Alan LyddiardDirector/Producer of events/projects, The Performance Ensemble 
Emily DruiffFounding Director, Peckham Platform 
Helen WardDirector, Jack Drum Arts 
Hannah GauntLearning and Engagement, The Turnpike  
Sam McElhattanApplied Theatre in Prisons  
Lewis PicklesFreelance Artist, Facilitator and Producer, Wipe Your Feet Theatre 
Alexandra ScottFront of House Manager, North Staffs Regional Film Theatre  
Wendy BoyersDirector, Umbrella 
Sue MartinArtist and Facilitator  
Lucy Anderson JonesDevelopment Manager London Bubble/ Director BlakeFest & The Wrestling School  
Martyn LucasArtist, Curator, Educator (freelance) 
Jeni WilliamsUniversity Lecturer in Creative writing *Also working in community with women asylum seekers and refugees at Swansea Women's Asylum and Refugee Support Group*
Suzanne SmithFreelance Participatory Visual Arts Facilitator 
Naila AmjadArt worker 
Roger HillFreelance Artist in the Participatory Arts Sector 
Guy ChristiansenCEO Lancashire Youth Challenge   
Thomas JansenSenior Lecturer in Chinese Studies, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Saint David  
Elizabeth WewioraHead of Engagement, University of Salford / Artist  
Barry LlewellynCreative Writing, University of South Wales  
Jen BellFreelance Creative Facilitator  
Kerrie ShaeferAssociate Professor, University of Exeter  
Kate PahlProfessor of Arts and Literacy, Manchester Metropolitan University 
Sandra GustafssonFreelance Theatre Designer and Youth |Workshop Facilitator 
Rick WalkerDirector, Cartwheel Arts 
John WhallDigital Participation Curator, Derby QUAD 
Huma ArshadVisual Artist  
Bryony Farrad-DavisFreelance Creative Engagement and Community Producer  
SamiraVisual Artist  
Sam MaceFreelance Artist  
Laura SharpeFreelance Theatre Facilitator and Youth Theatre Lead   
Jacqui WoodArtistic Director, ARC (Arts for Recovery) 
Kate GoodrichHead of Creative, The Men's Room 
Hannah StewartChair of the Board, Prism Arts 
Fionuala DorrityPerformer, Musician and Theatre-maker 
Rivca RubinJoint Artistic Director, Islington Mill 
Claire MansfieldFinance Manager, Artlink Centre for Community Arts  
Jean McEwanArtist and Organiser, Wur Bradford 
Jenny AnthonyFreelance Community Artist, Spiral Arts  
Alison KershawArt / mental health / open studios, TLC-Art and Drop In + Pool Arts 
Rachel GilliesFreelance Community Film, Media and Heritage Practitioner 
Mimi DearingDirector of Get It Done; socially engaged arts organisation 
Natalie CromptonYouth Arts Manager, The Lowry  
Katie GoodwinFreelance Theatre Designer  
Holly NorcopFreelance participatory artist   
Evie ManningCo-Artistic Director, Commonwealth Theatre 
Matt FentonArtistic Director / Chief Executive, Contact Theatre 
Nerissa Cargill ThompsonFreelance Community Artist 
Debra JonesCommunity Artist, Davis and Jones 
Mary SchwarzSecretariat, Artsworks Alliance 
Catherine CartwrightArtist, Researcher 
Simon RipleyPrintmaking, Double Elephant Print Workshop  
JoJo SpinksCommunity Animation through Creative Placemaking, Interwoven Productions 
Kevin ChamberlainCreative Coach 
Gemma AlldredParticipatory Artist - specialist in arts and wellbeing  
Benjamin Marrington-ReeveFreelance participatory music facilitator and practitioner, TIPP  
Matthew Harper-HardcastleArtistic Director, Next Door But One 
Dr J H StevenBoard member, TIPP  
Niki McCrettonTheatre maker/owner, The Lyric Theatre  
Jane ManleyStudent, University of Wales Trinity St David Lampeter  
Neil BeddowArtistic Director, acta community theatre 
Rhian HutchingsPartnership Manager, ArtWorks Cymru 
Jasmine O HareArts Educator and Marketer, The Arts Development Company 
Esther SalamonFounder, Independent Creative Living  
Emily AndrewsFreelance artist/ facilitator  
Rhiannon WhiteCo-Artistic Director, Common Wealth 
Laura DickenArts Advisor, Creative Black Country  
Sara GiddensChoreographer, Creative facilitator and Reader in Choreographic Practices, Bodies in Flight and University of Central Lancashire 
Liz MayneFormer Community Arts Officer, North West Arts Board  
Nadia RiceCommunity Arts Administrator, Freelance Artist and Illustrator, Cork Community Art Link  
Tanja JovicevicFreelance costume designer  
Liam SmythCreative Producer, Creative Black Country
Ian McMillanCommunity words work, Darts Doncaster Community Arts 
Deb RogersArtist, The Cultural Sisters
Molly StedmanFreelance director and support worker for theatre companies made up of performers with learning disabilities 
Adam HollowayDirector, Cheshire Dance
Saad Eddine SaidDirector, HOME Slough 
Catherine De SousaArts administrator/Performing arts teacher/Performer, Cheshire Dance 
Gaynor CoxHousing Arts Officer, Bolton at Home
Elaine FoxFreelance Arts Practitioner, Colourfield Arts 
Mark BeesonArtistic Director, MED Thetre
Jo DennisArtist and photographer, Indent Design 
Chris StentonExecutive Director, People Dancing
Chris BridgmanArtistic Director, Kirkgate Arts
Melanie BrierleyDance artist and researcher, Conscious Bodies 
Jane Mc LeanCreative Director, Cheshire Dance 
Lucy NicholsonDance Artist 
Julie BroadbentFreelance Dance and Drama Artist 
Charlotte Cunningham MBEArtistic Director, Turtle Key Arts
Debra SladeDirector, community arts practitioner at Walsall Creative Factory
Pat DawsonFreelance Creative Producer 
Julia HoldingHEALTH (independent provider) 
JulieFreelance Theatre practitioner 
Eleanor SimmsProject Coordinator - Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University
Liz AtkinArtist & freelance creative practitioner
Sarah ThorntonArtistic Director, Collective Encounters
Jonathan PughPerformanceUniversity of Wales Trinity Saint David
James MacPhersonArtizstic Director, Artizani
Dr. Valerie Kaneko-LucasScenographer, director and producer, Bottegavaga Theatre (Society for Theatre Research) 
Gemma Collard-StokesDance Artist
Oladipo AgboluajePlaywright/Theatre 
Dr Simon MurraySenior Lecturer in Theatre Studies, University of Glasgow
Alison KingChief Executive, Turtle Key Arts
Kate NeweyProfessor, Chair of the Standing Conference of University Drama Departments (SCUDD) Department of Drama, University of Exeter
Sue MayoFreelance Theatre-Maker
Lisa GoldmanWriter (freelance)
Kate WebbCircus and Outdoor Arts, Circomedia
Caz BraderDeputy CEO, Curious Minds 
Roanna MitchellLecturer / Dance, theatre and mental health, University of Kent 
Alda TerraccianoArtistic Director, Aldaterra Projects
Carina BartleetSenior Lecturer In Drama/ Vice-Chair of Standing Conference of University Drama Departments, Oxford Brookes University 
Professor Ann R DavidProfessor of Dance and Cultural Engagement, Dance department, University of Roehampton 
Harriet WarnockGeneral Manager, Collective Encounters
Alexander CoupeResearch Associate, Art for Reconciliation (University of Liverpool)
Kat LowSenior Lecturer, Applied Theatre and Community Performance (The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama )
Frances BabbageProfessor of Theatre & Performance, University of Sheffield)
Will WollenDirector of Employabiity (Arts), University of Kent 
Ellen PruyneImpact Manager and Writer, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama 
Matt JenningsLecturer in Drama, Ulster University 
Kate AdamsTheatremaker and University Lecturer, University of Salford 
Lizzie NurseDrama Teacher 
Ben DunnDrama - Lecturer and Researcher 
Gill FosterProfessor of Theatre and Performance, London South Bank University 
Maria TurriLecturer in Creative Arts and Mental Health, Queen Mary University of London  
Doctor Andrew WilfordTheatre Lecturer / Performance Researcher 
Melanie WhiteheadArtistic Director, The Electric Sunshine Project
Mary RichardsProgramme Director - BASc Global Challenges, Brunel University London 
Tony CoultFreelance practitioner/journalist 
Natalie HuntVegetable Artist, Madame Zucchini
Tony LiddingtonArtistic Director of Promenade Promotions Limited
Leslie HillProfessor of Theatre and Performance Making, University of Roehampton 
Amanda Beck-McKimCommunity Artist  
Stephanie KnightParticipatory artist/researcher and Principal Editor, International Journal of Arts & Communities 
Pat TruemanFreelance Theatre Director 
Amy VorisIndependent Dance Artist 
Ben CrystalCreative Producer, The Shakespeare Ensemble
Ava HuntProgramme Leader MA Applied Theatre & Education/Freelance Participatory Theatre Maker, University of Derby/ AvaHunt Theatre
Réka PolonyiTheatre practitioner and researcher 
Konstantinos ThomaidisSenior Lecturer in Drama, Theatre & Performance, University of Exeter 
Tricia KellyActor (freelance) 
Sam RedwayTheatremaker 
Paula DentonManaging & Creative Director of Our Big Picture Ltd. Arts & Heritage organisation
AliceDrama Student 
David CrystalChair of Trustees, Ucheldre Community Arts Centre, Holyhead 
Vicky LomaxFreelance Artist, Jamboree Arts 
Amanda Stuart FisherReader in Contemporary Theatre and Performance, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama 
Roaa Ali-MooreResearch Associate (Cultural Production and Consumption) - Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity, University of Manchester
Tracy RyanEnglish teacher and asylum caseworker 
Sheree VickersArtistic Director, SAVVY Theatre Company
Elinor RandleArtistic Director- work with theatre and participatory groups, Tmesis Theatre 
Derri BurdonChief Executive, Curious Minds
Lex RooneyCourse leader/Senior Lecturer - Undergraduate Programmes in Contemporary Circus with Physical Theatre, Circomedia
Sarah BartleyLecturer in Theatre and Performance, Queen Mary University of London 
Jo RobinsonProfessor of Drama and Performance, University of Nottingham 
Michael WallingArtistic Director, Border Crossings
Christina McAlpine Teacher 
Kate HoultonChildren & Young People's Producer  
Virginia Tandy Director, Age and Culture 
Kate BurnettTheatre Designer, Curator, Educator 
Nadine HoldsworthProfessor of Theatre and Performance, University of Warwick 
Nicola HollinshedApplied Theatre Practitioner/Participatory arts practitioner, Active Citizens Theatre Company
Curtis ClaphamArts Admin 
James WoodhamsYoung People's Officer 
Sarah ButterworthArtist, arts project manager, Emerald Ant CIC
Madelaine MooreTheatre 
Shirley MayCEO, Young Identity/ Wordsmith Awards 
Nina LemonPlaywright & theatre maker. Artistic Director, Peer Productions
Tina CarterCircus Coach, Researcher, Maker with Airhedz Aerial Training
Aylwyn WalshAcademic/ Participatory arts, University of Leeds
Zoe DunbarDirector, Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art
Dr Nic FryerSenior Lecturer, Buckinghamshire New University
Abi HorsfieldOutreach Director, Collective Encounters Theatre for Social Change[ ]( )
Erin WalconCo-Director, Doorstep Arts and Lecturer in Applied Theatre, University of Exeter
Judith JohnsonPlaywright 
Duncan RobertshawChief Executive, darts (Doncaster Community Arts)
Debbie CowleyGeneral Manager, Cheshire Dance 
Rosie HorlerActor/Facilitator/Outreach - Peer Productions
Alan Craig WilsonDirector, The Imagining History Programme UK
Clare SummerskillArtistic Director/Performer, Artemis Theatre Company
Sudan GuestDance, drama, movement, Feldenkrais, with Arden, Proud and Loud, Stepping Out at the Edge Theatre
Felicity GoodmanFreelance Community Artist/ Storyteller
Karen HallArts Education, University of Sussex 
Kiki GaleDance for people living with Parkinson's, Dance for Parkinson's Partnership UK at People Dancing 
Amanda CouchSenior Lecturer/Artist, University for the Creative Arts
Nicky StaintonFormer Chairperson, Waveney & Blyth Arts
Claire HignettFreelance Artist 
Derek CannonTrustee, Kirkgate Arts 
Emma BurgessActor, Writer and Director 
Gus GarsideNational Coordinator Creative Minds, Carousel
Simon MorrisGeneral Manager, Blue Apple Theatre
Laura GuthrieCo Director/Arts Facilitator, Meander Theatre 
Ross Bolwell-WilliamsCreative Producer  
Sarah CockburnOperations Manager, Pyramid of Arts
Roger WhitemanTrustee, Peer Productions 
Loz KayeArtistic Director, More Music
Michaela Butter MBE Director, Attenborough Arts Centre{](
Grace SmithCreative Enabler, Open Theatre
Lisa MallaghanProducer, Project Director, with Bradford Producing Hub 
Amanda SuttonDirector, Venture Arts
Julia SkeltonExecutive Director, Mind the Gap
Shanika WarrenCreative Engagement Manager, Emergency Exit arts and others (freelance) 
Andrew KeeCommunity visual artist 
Pragya KumarFreelance visual arts practitioner, Artiday
Emily O'SheaDance Artist/Community practitioner
Daniel Tyler-McTigheProducer/Director/Facilitator, Open Theatre + others
Alison WoodProgramme Engagement Officer, Lewisham Education Arts Network
Roger WoosterRetired Theatre in Education practitioner and academic 
Karla JonesCo-Producer, Hubbub Theatre Company
Manya BenensonParticipatory Arts, New Art Exchange 
Lucy DearDrama practitioner (freelance)
Andy WatsonArtistic Director / CEO, Geese Theatre Company
Sian RobertsFreelance Producer and Project Manager
Jordana BelaicheTheatre practitioner 
Jess RoyleDance Facilitator, Waggle Dance Company
Sean SmithTeacher, director, choreographer 
Sarah GoodfellowArts, Punchdrunk 
Carla MorrisCasting Director 
Jenny HarrisFreelance Drama Practitioner  
Rowan WilsonCarer 
Jeni SmithTeacher/Practitioner 
Sarah FeinmannArtist, Rogue Artists Studios
Jenny BattlrCare coordinator, Loud and Proud Arts 
Gemma ParkerFreelance Artist
Kerry TuhillChildren and Young People's Producer and Freelance Practitioner, Community Arts North West / various 
Jaime GreenlySewing Teacher
Jordana GolbournFreelance Community Theatre Maker 
Ivan WadesonExecutive Director, Manchester City of Literature
Angela ChadwickDIY Performer & Workshop Leader, DIY Theatre Company) 
Sharron CaseyDIY Theatre Company Performer, DIY Theatre Company 
Natasha PlayerProducer and Programme Development, Umoja Arts Network
Aisling LeynePuppeteer/Street Theatre & Stage & Workshop Leading (freelance)
Tom ThompsonOne time Community Arts Practitioner 
Caroline CoatesFreelance Community Artist 
Claire BigleyProducer and Project Manager (freelance) 
Rachel MoorhouseCreative Director, Art with Heart
Clare OwensCo-Director, Squash
Zi Lan LiaoC.E.O. Pagoda Arts
Natasha RichardsFreelance Creative Arts Facilitator 
Kerry MorrisonSocio-environmental artist 
Deborah DickinsonSenior Producer, Mind the Gap 
Tom BowtellArtistic Director, KIT Theatre
Hannah PriceCreative Photogapher
Barbara HulmeWatercolour artist 
Susie TateDance in Health, Susie Tate Projects
Andrew WestleSocially engaged artist and facilitator
Andrea FanchetteFreelance Artist
Anne LangfordFreelance Artist 
Lucy JacksonProducer/practitioner 
Ben TurnerFreelance project manager / producer  
Katie GentryGeneral Manager, Freewheelers Theatre and Media
Jenny HughesUniversity Lecturer, University of Manchester 
Jonny HoskinsPerformer/University Lecturer 
Annette LidsterArtsitic Director, Razed Roof
Jake HarriesDirector of Art & Innovation, Access Space
Jeremy ShineArtistic Director - street festivals, Manchester International Arts 
Noelle ThompsonLecturer BA Hons Acting, Leicester college & Freelance community choir leader 
Alex EvansArtistic Director, Kazzum Arts
Madeline HeneghanCo-Director, Writing on the Wall
MikeMorrisCo-Director, Writing on the Wall
Emily DaviesCommunity Engagement: Dance, Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal + Freelance 
Gemma KerrTheatre-maker/practitioner 
Colin BenthamChairman, Furness Creatives
Clare FildesFreelance Dance Artist (self-employed) 
Christina GroganDirector, Open Culture 
Lorna McGintyChair of Trustees, Chol Theatre & Arts Company
Alex WilsonBuildings Manager Arts Org, Islington Mill Arts Club
Sally LemsfordFreelance artist, experimenter, curator, producer, SEAFAIR
Adrian KingEducation Consultant 
Christie O’CarrollAssociate Director , Reading Rep
Leanne JonesExecutive Director, 20 Stories High
Julia SamuelsCo-Artistic Director, 20 Stories High
Anne ThwaiteFestival Director, Liverpool Arab Arts Festival  
David LintonSenior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre Arts, Kingston University 
Allie Walton-RobsonCreative Director, Headway Arts
Professor Ross W. PriorPrincipal Editor, Journal of Applied Arts & Health/University Professor, Journal of Applied Arts & Health/University of Wolverhampton
Simon MarshallPlaywright, Co-Producer of Hubbub Theatre, Learning Coordinator for Deda 
Shirley LundstramDirector, Leeds Dance Partnership
Nicole MayExecutive Producer & Writer , Young Identity
Judy Mazonowiczcommunity Organiser, The Windows Project
Kate G StoddartCurator working in participatory arts
Dance Action Zone Leeds Director, Dance Action Zone, Leeds
Elizabeth FerrettiWriter and creative writing tutor with focus on mental wellbeing, Writer Revealed, The Imagining History project
Tracy WitneyHead of Learning & Participation, Northern School of Contemporary Dance 
Steve SlaterDirector, Déda
Anne TimpsonFreelance Producer, Handpicked Productions
Ben MellorYouth Theatre Director, Collective Encounters
Emily BaxterCommunity Engagement: Theatre, Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal + Freelance 
Clare LimbHead of Dance Development and Learning, Déda
Richard SobeyChair of Board of Trustees, Bedford Creative Arts
Keira Mari MartinIndependent Dance Artist, Choreographer, Performer, Curator  
Gemma ParkerFreelance Artist
Robin ParkerPoet and Creative Writer, Langley Writers 
Kathy Williams OlyDirector, RJC Dance
Joel FildesPhotography (freelance) 
Charlotte CorrieDirector, Open Culture
Leon PatelCEO, Global Grooves
Kully ThiaraiCreative Director, Leeds 2023
Tim BrownArts Consultant, Tim Brown Arts 
Becky SmyllieArt for Wellbeing Project Coordinator, Cartwheel Arts 
Dr Kay HepplewhiteSenior Lecturer, Northumbria University 
Liz PughCreative Producer, Walk the Plank 
Holly PrestArtistic Director / freelance artist, Global Grooves 
Christopher HaworthSenior pyrotechnician warehouse manager, Walk the Plank 
Steph Meskell-BrockenArtistic Director/ Chair, Minerva Arts / National Association of Youth Theatres
Jim JohnsonCEO, Peshkar[[(
Freya Bennett-NielsenVolunteer Project Manager, The Vale
Joy MorrisArtist 
Kiz CrosbieArtistic Director, Mortal Fools
Emily WoodArtistic Director, Cabasa Carnival Arts
Gordon BanksFreelance Visual Artist/Street Theatre Performer Producer
Emma LongCommunity and Participatory Artist / Project Producer 
Judith ConyersTeacher/Practitioner 
Patrick CollierExecutive Director / Producer, Access All Areas
Stefanie WykeGeneral Manager, Islington Mill
Keranjeet Kaur VirdeeArtistic Director & Chief Executive, South Asian Arts-Uk
Tina RedfordArtistic Director, LEFTCOAST
Rachel HortonThe Culture Vulture
Jon ShawMusican, performer, technician, maker with Global Grooves, Mambo amps 
Dorothy HoskinsMusic education charities & arts engagement with London Music Fund / Apollo Music Projects / Create 
Isobel BloomfieldDance freelancer and community artist 
Darren GriceDeputy Chief Executive, Rochdale Borough Culture Trust (Link4Life) 
Aileen KellyProduction designer/visual artist/carnival artist 
Lizzie RigbyPuppeteer/maker outdoor arts, Global Grooves 
Gemma SeddonArtist, events producer  
Helen McGhiePhotographic Artist and Researcher
Mika De OliveiraFreelance music and dance practitioner in community arts, ART BRASIL
Rushi MunshiCreative Producer, Ri Ri's Dance Academy
Katrina McNallySocial Worker 
Maddie DoyleMarketing and Communications Officer, Walk the Plank 
Tim ChattertonFreelance musician and project manager, Bangdrum CIC
Chris PaulTrustee, Walk The Plank, WTP Pyro; Company Secretary and presenter, Wythenshawe FM; writer, publisher, designer, photographer, fundraiser, marketer
Ann GilliganFreelance visual artist, Green Monster Arts
Gary NewlandArtistic Programmer and Events Producer, Music Worldwide
Emma SmyllieClinical Psychologist, NHS 
Jonny QuickTheatre and Community Artist 
Jaydev MistryMusician Composer (Self-employed) 
Craig SpenceProduction Manager, Mortal Fools 
Matthew TuckeySound Designer (Freelance) 
Linda BoyleArts & Minds Network Development Manager, Arts & Minds Network
Sally GillfordArtist / Creative Practitioner
Laetitia ButlerCreative Producer 
Graeme MarsdenFreelance community artist (retired, now voluntary), Sheffield Visual Arts Group 
Sally HaringtonDirector, Northern Arts Factory
Kate DunneMixed Media Art 
Stephen SummersMusic Scientist, Noisy Toys
Amanda DaltonWriter and Arts educator (freelance) 
Clive PooleManager Circus Sensible with Interact Entertainments Ltd, t/a Circus Sensible
Juwon Ogungbe Composer, singer, theatre maker and educator, Afrocentric Creatives
Mike GreenFreelance maker and sculptor
Olivia PeersCommunity Dance Practitioner, Born and Bred Dance Theatre
David Dolan MartinIndependent Theatre Consultant
Anna HortonParticipatory Artist 
Dr David CalderLecturer in Theatre & Performance Studies, University of Manchester 
Rachel JonesOccupational Therapist & Project Manager 
Francisco CarrascoCreative Director, LUMA CREATIONS (aka One Latin Culture)
Charlie MorrisonExecutive Director, Walk the Plank
Imogen AshbyParticipation Producer, Forced Entertainment
Martina MurphyDirector - Dance, Merseyside Dance Initiative
Louise RigglesfordSenior Community and Outreach Manager, Chichester Festival Theatre 
Kate RotheryFreelance Producer and Artist, Global Grooves
Annie-Lunnette Deakin-FosterChoreographer/Movement Director
Melanie RobertsCarnival & Digital Arts, Global Grooves
Jeanefer Jean-CharlesArtistic Director, Mass Movement specialist & Choreographer
Lisa RisbecArtist, Arts and Health 
Emma SmithDirector, multidisciplinary arts and representation, Liverpool Irish Festival
Lauren BartonProducer & Production Manager , Walk the Plank
Ian Holmes-LewisMusical Director, Sambangra 
Mabel HoskinsStudent, Cambridge University 
Rachel SummerscalesSocial Value Director, Mossley Makes 
Jane HendrieArts Manager, Lewisham Education Arts Network
Wieke EringaCEO & Artistic Director, Yorkshire Dance
Stuart ClarkeTrustee, Yorkshire Dance
Barbara CardoneMarketing and Audience Engagement Officer, South Asian Arts-Uk
Beren AirstoneProject Coordinator (Music), The Vale, Mossley
Natalie LinneyFreelance artist
Sarah LyonDance, Yorkshire Dance 
Aidan JollyMusician/Performer and popular educator
Kerry HarkerFounder and Artistic Director, East Leeds Project
Janet DohertyHead Teacher 
Annie LloydCo-Director. Socially engaged live art in the public realm, Compass Live Art
Claire IrvingCommunities Director, East Leeds Project
Ben WrightFreelance Choreographer/director
Alan StonesComposer and Sound Designer
Eilidh TalmanActor and Freelance Drama Coach 
Adele SpeirsManaging Director I Artistic Director, SOLA ARTS
Elena BrearleyDrama Student, University of Manchester 
Carys NelkonHead of Programmes, Arts Emergency
Andrew SpinozaCommunications 
Becky OwenCommunity Musician, Programme Leader and Arts Facilitator
Steph DurkinCreative Learning Officer, Sunderland Empire 
Nadia IftkharArtistic Director & CEO, Company of Others
Lisette AutonFreelance disabled writer, theatre maker & creative practitioner
Karen LesterFreelance vocalist also working in primary music education 
Mary O' NeillCommunity Arts 
Bex BowsherWriter and Screenwriter 
Sofia BartonMulti-disciplinary art
Vanessa GrasseFreelance Dance Artist
Susan SentlerDance artist/educator 
Martine d'EllardCommunity arts practitioner, Sensory Spaces 
Inger HuddlestonArtist 
Liz O' NeillCEO, Z-Arts 
Vicky HollidaySenior Producer, Creative Scene 
Jennifer WilliamsArtist/Illustrator 
Gary BowdenFreelance community musician and CIC director, Pool of Sound
Janine WatersArtistic Director, The Edge
Rachel MooreCommunity Arts worker, Creative People and Paces 
Sarah LiFreelance Artist, Musician and Creative Producer 
VickyFreelance Artist 
Naomi WaringYouth facilitator, The Change Collective
Geraldine MontgomerieArtist/Former clinician/Network Cordinator, Leeds Arts Health and Wellbeing Network
Vicky AckroydAccess Champion, Totally Inclusive People 
Amy StrikeProducer 
Gill SimmondsArtistic Director, Brave Bold Drama
Bridie JacksonMusician/Creative practitioner
Kerry LowesPhD Researcher (The Cultural Value of Participatory Projects), Newcastle University 
Wendy HarrisArtistic Director, Tutti frutti productions 
Hannah FornsworthProcess Improvement Analyst 
Dave WoodWriter 
Holly TaylorArtistic Director, Planet B Productions 
Jo HowellPhotographic artist, small business owner 
Dagmar BirnbaumDance artist 
Charlotte Little Drama 
Robert HutchinsonMental Wellbeing Coach, The Authentic Life Company
Louise DoubbleArtist 
Nathan FrostFreelance Artist & Facilitator 
Anna ReillyFreelance Arts Facilitator and Actor 
Mahboobeh RajabiDigital Artist, Theatre Maker, Filmmaker, Writer, Creative Producer
Lady KittCraft. Social Practice Surgery
Amy GuestTeacher and Community Drama Practitioner 
Heidi Taylor-WoodFreelance Cultural Producer 
EmilyTheatre, Odd Arts 
Martin WilsonDirector, TIN Arts
Amy HailwoodParticipation Practitioner, Octagon Theatre Bolton
Kelly AllenDirector of Programmes, Curious Minds 
Lauren ClarkeFacilities Manager, Yorkshire Dance
Carol BowdenProject Leader and Musician, Sage Gateshead 
Eleanor HallStudent in participatory music 
Rachel KrischeDance Artist/Senior Lecturer, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds Beckett University 
Magddalen BartlettFreelance practitioner 
Rose ChadwickCentre for Advanced Training Programme Leader, Northern School of Contemporary Dance
Colin DavisArtist 
Ione BartonCommunity dance artist/coordinator, Yorkshire Dance 
Dawn PiersonFunding & Development / practitioner, Skylight Circus Arts
TundeArtistic Director, Big People Music
Neena PercyArtist-Curator, Hot Desque
Claire SharplesCultural Research and Development, Voluntary Arts / Freelance
(Mrs) Andy CollinsCoordinator, Borderland Voices, arts for health and mental wellbeing
Mrs Anne HancockSupporter of Leek town arts workshops, Borderland voices, Foxlowe Arts Centre 
Charles MonkhouseArtist 
Rob LehmannDirector of Young Lyric, Lyric Hammersmith 
MoiraArts practitioner and workshop leader, Various 
GenaBox Office Manager, Bath Box Office 
Cilla Baynes MBECommunity Artist. Recently retired Creative Director and co- Cilla Baynes MBE founder Community Arts North West. (freelance) 
Rachel FullegarDance Artist 
Jan CottingtonCentre Manager & Director of Programming, Chapel Arts Centre
Viv YoungArts and health
Emma BaimCreative Practitioner 
Sarah-Jane MasonCreative Practitioner & Educator
John MartinArtistic Director, Pan Intercultural Arts
Charis CharlesExecutive Director, Phoenix Dance Theatre
Alice GilmourCommunity Partnerships, Opera North
Ed NormanLive Sound Engineer, Chapel Arts Centre
Teresa PattisonPerforming Arts Teacher 
Alice GilmourCommunity Arts, Arts Together
Amanda Smethurst Facilitator 
Sophie MackrethYouth Arts Programme Manager, High Peak Community Arts
Sally StorrFreelance artist working with community groups
David HarradineCo-Artistic Director, Fevered Sleep
Kate DorneyDrama Lecturer 
Emma DysonCommunity Arts Practitioner
Vikas KumarDirector, Gem Arts
Emma CameronFreelance Producer Theatre & Circus 
Sheni Ravji-SmithProducer & Programme Manager 
Laura PulligArtist 
Kerith OgdenArtistic Director, Handmade Parade CIC 
Sarah BirdDirector, Wild Rumpus
Fion OsborneTeacher 
Rosanna LewisCulture and Development (international) 
S ChurlishTheatre Producer (freelance) 
Julie WardCulture & participatory democracy, Patron Dance Syndrome, ISAN, Europia Arts; Director Jack Drum Arts) 
AleksandraFreelance Artist
Christine ReaderArtist /social engagement/illustration and ceramics practice
Zory ShahrokhiVisual Artist (freelancer)
Sarah FisherDirector of Open Eye Gallery
Caroline Bradley Arts Consultant & Project Manager (freelance) 
Pamela BrookFashion and Textiles, Nottingham Trent University 
Jack WrightPublic Artist, Start in Bury, Manchester Road Community Centre 
Louise Wallwein MBEPoet/Playwright
GrainneTheatre practitioner 
Andy BurdenExecutive & Artistic Director, Natural Theatre Company
Shafa IqbalFacilities Manager 
Babs SmithArtist 
Jo TobiasMusician and teacher 
Emma DecentWriter, performer, artist and facilitator (freelance)
Giulia CasaliniCurator and researcher, Arts Feminism Queer 
Jo BurlingtonArtist, Oops Wow Messy Art
Emma TregiddenJoint CEO - Creative, Space2, Leeds
Thamasin MarshCeramic artist and teacher for vulnerable adults (Freelance) Hackney Learning Trust, Mind, Age Uk) 
Marita Sanguinetti BirdSchool Director, Meditation Dance School
Nicola BarronProject Development Lead, Stafford Carnegie Old Library Trust 
Gillie KleimanArtist and Academic
Anthony RichardsArtistic Director, Common Players Theatre
Jane SIllisDirector, Engage, the National Association for Gallery Education
Lynn CollinsSocial Care, BPHA 
Katy CulbardProgramme Manager, Loudspeaker, Nottingham Contemporary
Emily FratsonAdministration and Marketing Officer, Artlink Hull
Danielle PorterCommunity Development Officer/ Audio artist, Bolton at Home 
Helen FergusonCreative Producer and Theatre Practitioner & Director, Mortal Fools
Rita MarcaloArtistic Director, Instant Dissidence
Ayisha de lanerollePractical philosopher / arts educator, The Conversation Agency
Lily LutyApplied theatre practitioner, Queer Fiction UK 
Malaika Sarco-ThomasLecturer in Dance, Department of Music, Media and Performance, University of Chester 
Charis CharlesExecutive Director, Phoenix Dance Theatre[
Megan DunfordArts Producer, Community Practitioner, SEAFAIR, Individual Freelancer
Kithmini WimalasekeraHead of Commnity Programmes, Rambert 
Sandra VaccianaPractitioner, Partnership for Young London 
Beth PowellManaging Director, Creative City England CIC
Tom GlynnProject Leader, UC Crew
Barry PriestProducer 
Neil BettlesArtistic Director, Thick Skin 
Barry BurkeTheatre Manager, The Broadway
Alan BarrettFreelance
Sarah HarperParticipatory Arts Director, researcher and writer, Artistic Director, Friches Théâtre Urbain. PhD research Queen Mary University of London
Andrew StratfordProject Manager (freelance) 
Vicky ClarkeSound artist, technologist and music educator
Kirstie HendersonFilmmaker and Creative Practitioner, Brave Day
Jan HindeDevelopment Manager, Rochdale Borough Culture Trust (Link4Life) 
Charlotte LittleMember & Co-Chair of DIY Theatre Company
Louise HargreavesProgramme Producer, Abandon Normal Devices 
Sarah KingFreelance Facilitator - focus on SEN 
Chris WrightProducer, Future Everything
Emily CapstickParticipatory Theatre, Peoplescape Theatre
Gil Muaelm-DoronArtist, researcher, creative producer - SEAS - Socially Engaged Art Salon / BMECP
Karen ShannonCEO, Manchester Histories 
Bettina CarpiFreelance Dance Artist
Dr Miffy RyanTeacher of Fine Art 
Zoe ZontouSenior Lecturer in Drama , Liverpool Hope University 
Jeff TurnerDirector - Verd de Gris arts
Chloe SeniorCommunity Dance Artist 
Genevieve RuddFreelance artist/facilitator 
Ali MacKenzieDirector and artist@ Tin House 
Becky HigginsFreelance drama in education practitioner 
Kaavous ClaytonArtist curator working with contemporary art and place to uncover, support, create and promote cultural assets
Lisa FlemingParticipatory artist
Julia DevonshireCultural Development 
Claire TymonExecutive Director, Future Everything CIC
Charlotte ArculusArtist, Animateur, Doctoral scholar with Magic Adventure, Magic Acorns
Sian CrooseVocal leader/performance maker, The Voice Project
Xenia HorneMusician working in participatory practice 
Julia WebbPoet and freelance poetry tutor and mentor 
Jodi WatsonCreative Director, Wantsum Arts
Maddie BroadArtist, musician and Early Years specialist 
SianArtist teacher, School of Outdoor Art 
Karen LawrenceWorkshop Facilitator 
James RandellFront of House Manager, AMATA, Falmouth University
Agnieszka BlonskaTheatre director and performer, Senior Lecturer at Theatre and Acting
Steve JacobsActor 
Suzann McLeanCEO/Artistic Director, Theatre Peckham
Andreea UrzicaCompany Development Coordinator / Leadership, Young and Talented
Nancy ShakerleyTrustee, Resonate Arts
Rob SmithDirector, Ministry of Stories
Sheila MacdonaldExecutive Director, Beyond the Page Ltd 
David StokesCEO - Arts/Social Isolation Charity, Halpern Charitable Foundation/Nucleus Arts
Jessica LovellCompany and Volunteer Manager, Haringey Shed
Liberty IpFreelance Drama Facilitator
Peter HigginDirection of Enrichment - Theatre, Punchdrunk
Ciara BrennanProgramme Manager - Youth Arts , Croydon Music and Arts 
Finola SouthgateIndividual 
Heather SkowoodFestival Decor/Event manager, West Point Lantern Parade 
Akash AliStudent 
Tracy ShawInitiator and manager of participatory arts/creative community engagement projects and director of Arts & Regeneration agency in West Yorkshire, now retired 
Mary RobsonCreative Facilitator, Durham University 
Lucy BergmanLecturer BA Visual Communication, Leeds Arts University 
Incy WoodCommunity Arts, Health & Wellbeing 
James AllottCommunity artist and illustrator 
Sarah LamanCommunity Arts worker, retired 
Pippa ManselManager of community/arts building, No. 28 Belper 
Ola WilsonManager, Fleet Arts 
Nicola ThompsonVisual Arts, Nicola Twynham
Hazel ThomsonCommunity member involved in community arts taking information and art skills development to others 
Annie Mc CourtTheatre / Drama in participatory Settings (Freelance Community/Participatory Practitioner) 
Zoe ConnelFreelance drama facilitator and Assistant to the Artistic Director of Curious Monkey Theatre Company
Sam MurrayFreelance artist/musician/meditation coach, Mindful Mansfield Meditation Group 
Sarah GeeChief Executive, Spittalfields Music
Zena EdwardsCreative Director and Media Arts Education Strategist, Verse In Dialog
Thomas ProszowskiVisual artist, Fine Art Proszowski)
Samuel ThomsonDirector, Framelord Limited
Antonia BeckPerformance artist and Creative producer
Claire MorrisExecutive Producer, Fallen Angels Dance Theatre
Xenia MoseleyProject Manager, Blackhorse Workshop 
Andreea UrzicaAcademy Manager, Theatre Peckham 
Jennifer FletcherTheatre Maker
Liv HuntParticipatory theatre practitioner (self-employed) 
Samuel DunstanDirector and Producer, The Growth House
Munirih GraceActress & Activist 
Lorna O'BrienCreative Manager, MarketPlace
Lauren SaundersArtist and Producer, The Critical Fish
Alan StonesSound Designer 
Katherine Igoe-EwerLocal Producer, The Yard Theatre 
Quentin BudworthMusician, Composer, Lens-based Artist, Provocateur, Catalyst, Instigator with The Grinnigogs, Celtarabia, The Hessle Ceilidh Band
Larissa De FilippoVisual Artist 
Maria Shury-SmithCreative Learning & Community Partnerships Officer, Richmond Theatre & Richmond Theatre Tru st 
Jackie GoodmanDirector / Project Manager, Feral Arts School
Marianne Lewsley-StierCreative Producer/Consultant, 
Casey BottonoWorkshop Leader, Creative Writing, Kernow Education Arts Partnership 
Faith I WeddleCo-Director, Norman Rea Gallery
Camille Maalawy[Freelance Vocal Animateur and Mezzo Soprano/Arabic Singer](Freelance Vocal Animateur and Mezzo Soprano/Arabic Singer) 
Julia NegusArtist & Projects producer, Theatre Absolute
Lynn WhiteheadCommunity theatre practice 
Kenn TaylorWriter and creative producer 
Sheridan Zabel RawlingsTheatre Director and art historian 
Bernie VelvickCommunity and participatory arts practitioner and artist, Artfull
Stephanie PortersmithMD and music/ writing practitioner, Well Arty
Chris ReaderFreelance artist/Varied media / Facilitating creative connection 
Christine StringfellowVisual arts: artist, manager, educator
Maija OzolinaSpoken Word performance 
Marianne MatuszFreelance participatory theatre practitioner 
Shereen CarsonRetail / Surface Designer & Printer 
Judith JohnsonPlaywright, learning-disability theatre 
Miriam NabarroArtist ( participatory/ socially engaged practice/ self employed)
Louise PendryDirector, Bounce Theatre
Jacki ClarkFreelance artist/therapist, S4a 
Corinne SalisburyFreelance Producer 
Cora GlasserArtist / Co-founder of
Jackie WalduckComposer, participatory musician 
Lisa HowardResearcher, Fotonow CIC
Stephen BarbeCommunity Music (freelance)
Sarah GregsonCommunity Curator - Cultural engagement and learning for all, Wessex Museums
Dee IsaacsSenior Lecturer Music in the Community, University of Edinburgh 
Zorazelda KingCommunity Arts Practitioner and Theatre Maker (freelance)
Dr Catherine Pestano FRSACommunity music /Arts and wellbeing, Creative Croydon CIC(
Paul BrewerCEO, Sound Minds
Rose KentCreative Director, Accessible Arts and media
Graham DowdallLecturer/ practitioner Community Music and Arts, Goldsmiths Uni. Of London 
Sally HendryDance Artist 
Mandy HarrisVocal workshop leader, Amaris Arts
NIcola BarronProject development lead - Community Arts, Stafford Carnegie Old Library Trust
Lauren VelvickCreative Producer/Writer/Curator, Lancaster Arts/Corridor8/Freelance 


Sue Caudle "If the Arts are not for all where does that leave us as a society?"
Hebe Reilly"Participatory Arts provide a vital life line to isolated individuals who are not accessing support from any other services. I know from working with individuals during lockdown how imperative the arts have been for their health and wellbeing. "
Stella Duffy"Participatory and community arts are the key to arts for, by and with all. For too long too little emphasis has been given to the community participation and creative work that goes on in every community across the UK, work that is underpaid, often unsung and always vital. This crisis is a great time to redress that balance - we have seen our communities step up to care for themselves and connect locally, let's support them to do even more."
Saul Hewish"I fully endorse this letter. I have worked with socially excluded communities for close to 33 years and never has the need for support of participatory arts been so great."
Susan Clarke "There is a huge amount of skill, well developed practice, and knowledge already in this sector -what we need is recognition, investment, and partnerships."
Penny Vincent"All of my work as a community worker focussed on health inequalities has always involved working with community artists. This work is critical to the wellbeing of our neighbourhoods, communities and society."
Adrian Sinclair"Work with us to make excellent community arts the new normal"
Simon Ruding"The participatory arts play a vital role in the wider arts ecology, providing specialist support to larger organisations and venues and are crucial to the practical realisation of ACE's new strategy. In these Covid days, and the post-Covid days to come we need to shout, sing, paint and dance about our work and its impact, or I fear we may be forgotten. Please sign."
Mike Stubbs"Important debate, essential new models of resilience, good value"
Richard Hayhow"The freedom and opportunity for everyone to participate in the arts at all stages of life is a basic human right that we need to promote and protect at all times, even more so at a time like this"
Fiona Watt"Please understand the intrinsic need and value of this work in re-building communities and currently very fragile eco-systems of highly skilled participatory arts practitioners and nurture cultural leadership and financial support from the ground up."
John Fox, MBE"Lockdown... a unique learning point before the dawning of a new normal ? Might this encompass those values our work has always endorsed, ie an increase of local vernacular art, non competitive collaboration, creative "well- being" and participation with grass roots percolation rather than top down dominion?"
Adrian Dakers"I offer my full support! "
Jakki Moore"We are a very important part of our community, town and indeed the Western Lake District and County. "
Jenny Smith"Our sector needs support to work creatively with local communities to recover and re-connect. The emergency response funds were welcomed but we're ready with many ideas for creative work to support people to re-connect and reduce isolation in these challenging times, and very little funding is currently available to pitch to realise those ideas. We need opportunities to fund creative work that ensures that the nation's mental health and wellbeing recovers, not just government measures to support the nation's economy."
Annette Burghess"Since June I have met over 400 participatory artists theatre-makers, choreographers, circus specialists, community musicians, visual artists, sound artists who are striving to shift to a socially distanced model of practice. I am in awe of their creativity and innovation, and their long term commitment to using their own talents to benefit others. And what's most exciting is what they are doing is working. They are embracing digital creative practice, direct tackling digital poverty, writing new safeguarding procedures and testing our new ways to have the voices of those they work with heard. Participatory artists have proved themselves to be resilient at a time of national crisis, and this deserves to be recognised, celebrated, valued and most importantly invested in. "
Dr Nick Owen, MBE"In these times of Covidity marked by times of social distancing, fear of the other, anxiety for the economic future, frustration of the present yet awareness of the power of collaborative creativity and culture, it has become even more essential that artists and communities need to collaborate for the benefit of all our collective futures and especially our children and young people."
Emily Druiff"It’s time to value the hyper-local. Let’s have a culture reset."
Jeni Williams"No one who has worked with people from a non-English background can underestimate first the importance of clear expression and communication, for a sense of connection with others, for well being. Writing about joyful things brings them to mind and enables people to share a sense of common humanity, writing about trauma enables it to be managed by the writer and recognised by empathically by others. Whoever they are people need to feel accepted and valued as human beings and the epidemic of loneliness, alienation and mental health difficulties demonstrates just how desperate a soulless system is and how we are all diminished by the anomie that results from individuals being reduced to numbers and treated as figures to be placed in boxes.The practice of the Arts and particularly participatory arts are essential for people feeling safe and fulfilled in a functioning society"
Roger Hill"Together in strength"
Rick Walker"The role which participatory arts organisations such as ours have played in the mutual aid movement in response to Covid-19 have brought the arts into the homes of hundreds of thousands of people in marginalised communities whom we have not reached before and built respect with grassroots organisatios across civil society. This offers an opportunity for the participatory arts sector to play a significant role in building the struggle against the shocking inequalities exposed byb the pandemic. It is also an opportunity for ACE to test the 'Let's Create' vision in a critical situation and give practical expression to it"
Kate Goodrich"Participatory arts and creativity are even more vital at this time, allowing connection and meaning when so many of our group are experiencing further isolation and marginalisation."
Jenny Anthony"The 'arts' gives opportunity to those who are disadvantaged and vulnerable in our community"
Alison Kershaw"This area has so much experience over so many years - networks small, even tiny organisations run by and for marginalised or disadvantaged people need more support to create sustainable work and careers and resources for participatory should not just be going to those already with all the power "
Mary Schwarz"Connectivity, collaboration and a collective voice for participatory artists and arts organisations is more vital than ever in our current Coronavirus context. We're open for everyone who wants to share information, learn from each other’s experiences and create new ideas, projects and partnerships that otherwise wouldn’t happen. Here to help make the case for the sector."
Catherine Cartwright"Participatory art is a vital part of connecting and creating communities."
Kevin Chamberlain"Unleashing talent is good for the whole human system. "
Gemma Alldred"We work in the margins, using our expertise in creativity and people, to support individuals and strengthen communities. Help us to help our recovery as a nation."
Jane Manley"My future is at stake!"
Neil Beddow"This well worded statement has my full support "
Liz Mayne"I wholeheartedly support the Three Point Plan and notion of a further online conversation to afford Let’s Create the opportunity to elucidate on this Plan. I know - through my, prior, extensive advocacy of, and financial support for participatory arts - their powerful capacity to empower, seemingly, disenfranchised communities both individually and collectively."
Deb Rogers"Thanks, look forward to hearing more "
Adam Holloway"The need to act is greater than ever. The workforce, the artists and arts workforce who work with communities, is there. It is adapting to change and organising. Much of all else that is missing is cash. Its time to invest and invest heavily. The cost of not doing so will be so much higher."
Julie Broadbent"The importance of integrating people and communities to build confidence and self-esteem, creativity, communication and expression is vital. Children and young people should be shown the value of this in and out of education settings and we should realise that during lockdown, people of all backgrounds have turned to different art forms to stimulate their mind and bodies. Fund it, nurture it !!"
Charlotte Cunningham MBE"Our organisation was founded to create access to the arts and our experience over the past few months has demonstrated more than ever how important our participatory projects are to the individuals and the communities that we exist for. We have also seen our freelance artists and facilitators continuing to work with us and stepping up to support these participants in times of great uncertainty for themselves and their families. We are delighted to be linked with the wider community within the participatory arts sector and we wholly support all of our colleagues and fellow organisations in the sentiments expressed in this letter."
Debra Slade"Working harder than ever during the pandemic with the vulnerable and isolated and developing neighbourhood regeneration and community cohesion through participatory art projects."
Oladipo Agboluaje"Participatory theatre is the closest theatre to communities. It fosters real relationships and demystifies theatre practice and production while at the same time focusing on community needs. It demands saving."
Kate Newey"I'm signing as an academic working in a university Drama Department from which many of our graduates go on to work in small theatre companies, theatre in educational, and social engaged performance practice. A healthy vibrant and challenging creative performing arts sector is vital to our graduates. I'm also signing on behalf of SCUDD - the subject association for teaching drama in UK universities."
Sue Mayo"We have a rich heritage of amazing practice in the UK, which we mustn't lose and which may well be the seed bed of new growth. I fully support the letter"
Caz Brader"Participatory arts are the soul of our arts and cultural ecology"
Michelle Sheree"I am a commissioner and the commissioned - I see the situation in its fullest picture. The work I have been involved with in both roles over my 23 year arts career has engaged the disengaged, has opened up creative and critical thinking in those who were 'asleep', it has given great memories of engaged activity to those who have the least, it has created friendships and developed community connections individuals never thought possible, it has developed endless creative skills that I still see are flourishing today, it has given a voice within creative expression that rarely speak up, and even when they do they are not usually heard. it has empowered individuals to see themselves as part of something much bigger than themselves, it has inspired individuals to become artists, it has paid artists and supported them to develop, stretch their creativity and earn a living to support them to give back to communities - full circle. It has inspired, it has broken down the mundane and trudge of people's lives that live in situations that feel hopeless, offering a road forward to a better mental place even if they are not able to physically change their personal circumstances - it makes life tolerable to escape for short times. Art is to the mind as Sport is to the body. Without a thriving arts and cultural sector to continue delivering all these types of outcomes and many many more, the country will offer a bleakness this country has never known outside of War."
Matt Jennings"The community and participatory arts sector is invaluable to the health and wellbeing of the population as a whole, as well as to our lifelong education and ability to support wider impact of any public health, economic or social programmes. It provides countless services and experiences that are crucial and profound in their effect on people's lives, which usually go unrecognised. It must be supported "
Maria Turri"Participatory art is an essential contributor to the health of the nation"
Tony Liddington"We work in this area and provide an important service both locally and nationally."
Stephanie Knight"Participatory arts has been the life blood and sustainability for communities for many years. It has been a safe space for education, invention, creativity and making meaning of what is is to be human. It gives opportunities where others may have failed, and works in every context of human activity. "
Christina McAlpine"Participatory arts projects are vital to cement communities and tackle isolation and mental health. "
Kate Burnett"The UK arts industries propel and underpin a huge part of our tourism and hospitality industries as well as contributing massively to social education and wellbeing. Supporting arts organisations and the largely freelance workforce while they rework their operating methods in the community and the economy is an investment that will pay dividends in new confidence and re-growth."
Sarah Butterworth"Participatory arts are needed now more than ever to bring people together in isolation."
Abi HorsfieldSome of the people I have been working with have said without the drama they have been doing they would not have coped with isolation of lockdown. Participatory arts opens up skills and opportunities and enables people to explore their creativity and potential. It fosters connectivity and allows people to imagine change."
Erin Walcon"These freelancers, organisations and specialists are the keyworkers of the next stage."
Sudan Guest"I have lost a lot of work and income during Covid. I’m a widow with two children to care for. This is a Worrying time. I work with two disabled groups In the community who are isolated, not all of them have WiFi or a computer or the ability to log on. At the arden face to face lessons are reduced on a performing arts degree which makes teaching and learning risky for all parties but also online teaching has disappeared in favour of those who can risk being in the studio. I haven’t been contracted for all my hours at the Arden. So my predicted income has reduced. I also teach Dance in after schools clubs and those jobs have disappeared too. I’m at a loss."
Felicity Goodman"Art can provide space and make a place for people to fill powerful. The vision of a world without community arts is a bleak and lonely view."
Gus Garside"The participatory arts sector has a partiuclar relevance for learning disabled artists and performers who are feeling an even greater sense of isolation than most right now"
Simon Morris"The survival of the arts sector is vital to the survival of our culture, which is vital to the survival of our society, and the survival of its citizens."
Lisa Mallaghan"Engagement in the arts for ALL our communities is as essential as it ever was. The current crisis has widened the already enormous gap between the 'haves' and 'have nots' in our society even further. Please don't only fund the people who already have, and can. Ensure arts support and funding is equitable, and that engagement in and benefits of the arts is an equitable opportunity to all."
Julia Skelton"It's vital that the post Covid crisis cultural sector is an inclusive one, the respects and celebrates voices and artists from ALL corners of the country, and ALL our varied and diverse communities."
Shanika Warren"I occupy in a freelance capacity that is precarious at the best of times but lack of funding and difficulty finding and retaining participants during this time is even more worrying for programme longevity"
Pragya Kumar"Participatory arts is very important to build strong resilient communities. It is a great means to propagate creativity, voice opinions, create connections, promote well-being and the process of creating brings the community together. We need it more than ever to in these unprecedented times."
Roger Wooster"Participatory engagement with the arts is the surest stepping stone to social cohesion and personal development"
Manya Benenson"Young people have been adversly left out and affected by this time and need high quality arts expereinces that put them and their views at the centre. They need space to make connections, heal and re-imagine their future."
Jess Royle"WE NEED THE ARTS - provide mental and physical well being to the next generation, promote self-esteem and team work, build a better future for the next generation. PLEASE. "
Kerry Tuhill"I have worked as a freelance practitioner and been employed by small arts organisations for 27 years. As austerity has taken hold, vital services have fallen away and arts workers have become even more essential. Workers are underpaid and overstretched and many are unprotected at this current time."
Natasha Player"Thank you Artschain for championing the needs of the sector"
Tom Thompson"There has never been a time when the skills of arts practitioners and organisations who can enable creative developments in all our communities have been of greater importance."
Deborah Dickinson"We must continue to strive for inclusion and participation in the arts sector. Equality of voice, opportunity and agency is integral to that ambition."
Ben Turner"Don't just watch it or absorb it: do it and be it! Participatory arts can be abundantly joyous, tender, raw, tough, real, visionary, playful ... open to anyone that is interested or curious. It's a bridge between many worlds and places, a roundabout of possibilities ... and sometimes, just sometimes, it not only changes the game but rewrites / rips up the rule book. You couldn't make it up, but those involved collectively can. At a time when 'socially distant' is present in everyday language we need something extra-ordinary to keep on bringing us together"
Jonny Hoskins"The power of participatory arts to benefit a vast range of people in society in a great many ways, and to feed into the arts in general must not be underestimated. It would be an enormous asset to our country if we were to properly value and support participatory arts at all levels."
Clare Fildes"I've been working as a dance artist for over 20 years in communities, in education, in outdoor theatre, in theatres, TV, vocational institutions. All this work has now disappeared. I'm seeing highly skilled experienced artists and newly graduated artists looking for work in other sectors. This is heartbreaking. The arts are vital to our health & well-being. I've witnessed and been part of projects and events that have been life-changing for many people. We need to save this vital industry."
Sally Lemsford"Millions of small voices can add up to an enormous loud voice...are you listening to what we have been saying for a long, long time?"
Adrian King"This issue is 2-pronged. First, we MUST preserve the arts for the good of the people of this country; and second, we need to preserve the jobs, and thereby the skills, of arts practitioners in whichever arts field they work. PLEASE HELP!"
Judy Mazonowicz"Community art work is essential for healthy minds, bodies and spirits."
Ian Rodley"We support you and this cause to rebuild, strengthen and be an advocate for the arts beyond COVID-19"
Elizabeth Ferretti"I fully support the aims and content of the letter from Arts Chain."
Steve Slater"Don't let the arts be the next victim of Covid - 19!"
Robin Parker"The Arts are a vital vehicle to help us survive this pandemic."
Joel Fildes"The Arts have created work for both me,and my wife...luckily she is in education now (Arts). I have no work, no money and no prospects after 23 years of gainful self employment..."
Tim Brown"Fully in support of promoting sustainability for the participatory arts sector"
Liz Pugh"Behind our organisation lies a mycelium of freelance practitioners whose precarious lives are dedicated to supporting those who are sidelined, left behind or maligned in so many ways - they don't have access to the corridors of power but the work we do has a massive impact on the wellbeing of communities."
Holly Prest"The arts are crucial to the UK economy, any citizen's wellbeing and happiness, and our sense of global connection."
Steph Meskell-Brocken"This is an excellent piece of work. These are real tangible objectives that I would be delighted to see ACE take forward. For too long participatory and community arts has been sidelined and marginalised, of utilitarian purpose when it suits an agenda. What COVID should be teaching us is that if people cannot be supported to participate, create and be part of arts experiences then we will not have a sector to support and defend in the future."
Gordon Banks"Community arts is at the centre of everything, it's at the beginning, middle and end."
Emma Long" 'Art for the common good' matters now more than ever, art and creativity is the glue that will bind us from a socially acceptable distance as people and communities begin to rebuild, restart their lives with the virus looking over their shoulders. The colour and consistency of this glue will be shaped by the hands and voices who co-create it, skillfully facilitated by artists working in this field."
Patrick Collier"We must recognise the important of cultural projects as we re-emerge into society. For many people, and particularly many learning disabled people, there is a risk of prolonged and ongoing isolation. We must support creative, local projects that enable learning disabled people and others to re-engage with our communities after lockdown."
Keranjeet Kaur Virdee"The work of artists and cultural organisations is how is vital in animating UK, which attracts tourists, instills a sense of belonging as work begins to reflect the people of the UK rich, diverse evolving, innovative and highly creative. The investment of past 70plus years has ensured that creative sector is the one that aid recovery when there is the highest need for a nation to come together and rebuild. Provide a stage for humanity to connect, be resilent and overcome adversity. There is a great deal of work to be done to bring about true equality and end poverty. The returns on investment are immeasurable both in terms of financial and social. I sincerely pray that investment in the creative sector is a key priority."
Rachel Horton"Thank you!"
Rushi Munshi"Keep arts alive. It has many more benefits than just the provision of entertainment."
Tim Chatterton"The participatory arts sector in all its forms depends on a huge array of freelance artists, technicians and producers . With events cancelled indefinitely, venues and arts organisations closed and opportunities to produce work and perform to live audiences restricted we are all facing a crisis from which many will not return without continued government support."
Gary Newland"A society without arts and culture will not thrive and develop, it becomes meaningless"
Graeme Marsden"I have been fortunate to work for nearly fifty years in the arts and creative industries. Now in my 70’s it is terrible to see the decades of inspiring work across the country being decimated so rapidly. Much of this work has been with some of the most disadvantaged people in the country and cannot be easily replaced. It has brought hope and often the opportunity for positive progress. It has often helped to shape the soul of our communities. This work should not be allowed to wither"
Sally Harington"Arts should be accessible for all and can be used in so many ways and when the mental health of so many is currently so fragile the arts are one area that could help improve and support those in need."
Juwon Ogungbe"The participatory arts community has contributed immensely to the well being of England’s cultural ecosystem. In the spirit of fair play and good will, one can only hope that our sector shall be taken into consideration by the relevant decision makers."
Francisco Carrasco"It is paramount that we come together and push to ensure that our sector is heard and supported properly. We will be the glue that brings communities together and heals many of the mental health issues that are fast arising form the crisis we find ourselves in. It is imperative that the government listens and understands that not only will this sector help to heal so many people, it can also be some of the most intelligently used funds the government would spend."
Annie-Lunnette Deakin-Foster"Without art, and the opportunity to interact, play, and learn from each other, how can we progress as a human race?"
Jeanefer Jean-Charles"At a time when the country is feeling a deep sense of loss and the nation's wellbeing is at stake, what is needed is surely so very clear. We need to reach communities who feel broken and use the magic of the arts for recovery and strength to carry on."
Emma Smith"The arts is a right, not a luxury. The continuity of arts organisations (particularly small and micro organisations) and their work on identity theory, community cohesion and representation (e.g., work not diretly related to Coronavirus, but to a continued presence, curation and mission-related content generation), has been greatly overlooked in the national agency response, at great cost to the people who create and rely on it. There is a vaccuum and this needs addressing. Please look at the gaps in provision to prevent this happening again. Long live the arts!"
Aidan Jolly"Communal artistic and cultural activities and responses to the current set of crises are essential, not luxuries. They facilitate the re-imaging of the world from the ground up, by those people most affected, and the participatory arts sector has responded more quickly and flexibly than many larger and better resourced arts sectors. Now is the time to re-think the distribution of resources within society, and within the arts, to give voice to marginalised people and bring about real change."
Annie Lloyd"Thanks for organising this"
Karen Lester"We cannot allow the arts to be dismissed. In schools, they have already had the life bled out of them (I lost 75% of my work last year due to budget cuts) yet the positive and essential part the arts play in everyone’s life, in some form, cannot be denied or under-estimated. The constant talk of ‘outdoor’ performances etc. is not practical - it’s Britain, we have decent weather for about 3 months of the year!"
Inger Huddleston"We all need an arty party!"
Jennifer Williams"It is worth adding the examples of participatory art in the recently published CULTURE, DEMOCRACY AND THE RIGHT TO MAKE ART, by Alison Jeffers and Gerri Moriarty. It illustrates the worth and growth experienced by both artists and communities in art making through collaboration and participation."
Geraldine Montgomerie"I am standing with members like Wieke Eringa, Kerry Harker and Linda Boyle from our network to express how much we value participatory arts. In Leeds we have been building so much knowledge in participatory art practice and it is vital that we support our practitioners to retain and build on this."
Kerry Lowes"An important letter, which must be heeded. Thank you"
Jo Howell"Difficult times are already upon us. To be resilient we need to act now."
Robert Hutchinson"The arts and culture are critical to mental wellbeing, and will be need more than ever in the Covid recovery."
Amy Hailwood"The opportunity to take part in arts and culture consistently changes individuals and communities lives for the better. It is an essential part of civic life."
Carol Bowden"I work with families at risk, children with send and care experience. The impact music has in their lives, on attachment, trauma recovery, social, emotional and educational development is undisputed. Any financial support from government has the potential to save at least twice as much in future."
Magddalen BartlettThe arts has been a backbone to numerous under-represented communities who needs creative platform to continually have their voices heard.
Claire Sharples"The creativity and adaptability of practitioners working in across the sector, their ability to make wonderful and surprising things happen irrespective of conditions, is justification for more support rather than less."
(Mrs) Andy Collins"As a micro-charity delivering arts for health and mental well-being our service has never been more needed and we have an excellent rapport with our participants."
Mrs Anne Hancock"Do not underestimate the positive impact on human interaction during local arts events"
Moira"Arts activity is important for people’s mental health and for bringing people together in creative endeavour "
Cilla Baynes MBE"If we are committed to true equality and Black Lives Matter it is essential to safeguard the resources’ that are critical to sustain this work so that it can continue to thrive in all its creativity. For decades now, the sector has had a profound influence in shaping our current arts agenda. It has provided a critical entry and taking off point for inspired work and good ideas, creating platforms for the creativity and progression of working class communities in the UK. Also from personal experience, I know the role played by the sector in encouraging the creativity and talent of 100’s of people from marginalised communities who have gone on to become part of and contribute greatly to a more diverse UK arts sector."
Viv Young"The arts is vital for all ages and abilities"
Ed Norman"If we all work together we can build a sector that comes back stronger and more vibrant than ever before!"
Alice Gilmour"Arts Together Leeds is all about helping people benefit from participating in the arts, and we see first-hand what that does for our communities. So we applaud Arts Chain for this initiative!"
Sophie Makreth"As the letter states, many community and participatory arts organisations have continued to reach out and provide a creative service to their communities throughout the last few months - we took 2 weeks to re-launch our youth programme online and our adult programme by post. None of our staff have been furloughed and we have needed no extra support as yet. Many large organisations are under threat of insolvency, but they were not well placed to meet the changing needs of their audiences. Small organisations are lean and responsive. Their leadership is intimately linked to the service they provide and the voices of their audience / participants are heard instantly as they plan strategy. This sector must be supported."
Julie Ward"Participatory arts is key to wellbeing & community cohesion, the key to empowered engaged citizens, and teaches transferable skills needed for employability in a changing and uncertain world."
Aleksandra"Good stuff!"
Sarah Fisher"Co-authoring culture with communities is the future of the arts"
Babs Smith"Community art makes a massive difference to society- let's build it up not knock it down."
Nicola Barron"Please see the bigger picture and understand the immense benefits of the arts, not just for tourist attractions, but developing communities and increasing wellbeing"
Anthony Richards"The greatest Crown Jewel is the creative spirit of the people of our nations. This needs to be nurtured at community level with things for people to be doing, often together. Whilst consuming excellence is part of what we might like doing, being creatively active is key for all sectors of society."
Helen Ferguson"Community based arts activities have a huge purpose and have the power to change lives, as well as producing high quality work"
Ayisha de lanerolle"The network of participatory, socially engaged projects and practitioners has just about managed to hold this country together through austerity. Through huge love, skill and determination. Society needs this network more than ever now, to heal, reimagine and play a pivotal role in building a positive future for us all."
Sandra Vacciana"The arts are integral to our personal and social well being - they form part of the infrastructure of communities providing a fundamental aspect of our learning, creativity and connection to other people and the world around us. The erosion of arts and education is the erosion of the building blocks of society."
Barry Burke"The Broadway is a 340-seat venue in one of London's more deprived areas, where engagement with culture and performing arts has been traditionally low, an issue we have played no small part in transforming. As well as professional shows, the Broadway stages up to 100 participatory shows each year, giving children and young people the opportunity to express their creativity and proudly show off their individual talents whilst working hard as a team in front of an audience of families and friends. Like other similar local venues serving their respective communities, the Broadway is a vital cultural asset, extensively used for participatory arts but does not enjoy local authority or Arts Council subsidy or corporate/donor support, relying instead on earned income which has completely dried up because of the COVID-19 crisis and lockdown."
Alan Barrett"Stop treating professional art, in all its forms, like a hobby."
Karen Shannon"Co-producing work with our communities is vital, it enables creativity, gives voice, is good for you, and shines a beautiful light on the incredible talent we have in our neighbourhoods, towns and cities. Taking part, being part making the parts of creative content is the essence of being human and activates social change for the better of all. Participatory arts should not be overlooked. Solidarity with Arts Chain and all those that stand together to ensure a future for our work and the people that create alongside us."
Claire Tymon"FutureEverything's mission is to empower citizens, communities and project partners to harness art and technology to create positive change in the world. Through research, participatory design and public art commissioning, we champion the role of grassroots innovation, creating opportunities for community engagement, participation and co-creation. Established now for 25 years, our work is underpinned by art methodologies and co-producing work with artists and communities, creating both immediate and long term social and economic impacts. Creativity is embedded across all sectors and we (the creative sector) has the ability to transform lives through skills, imagination and storytelling."
Charlotte Arculus"More than any other area in the arts, this sector and its incredible skill needs to be made visible, valued and supported. I have been a community artist for over 30 years and the sector has been perennialy undervalued, I think there is currently a danger of loosing these skills and setting the knowledge of this work back decades. My recommendation is to invest and fund spaces where artists cross-pollinate their practices of working with people and places."
Jodi Watson"Our continuous work supports the marginalised factions of our communities. Gathering, singing, raising our voices has all been curbed in the virus. Some may bounce back easily. BAME, elders and those with health conditions not so easily. We produce slow steady work in a fast flippant world. We are not a band aid, we are a major part of creating the precious infrastructure and imagined idea of the new social norms."
Suzann McLean"Grassroots connectivity and participation programmes ignite imaginations and transforms the world in which we live. I urge the government to consider this work first for the sake of local communities, those venues and practitioners who communities trust and where they feel comfortable, the local theatres where children have their first experience of participation in the arts and where a life-long love of the arts begins."
Sheila Macdonald"Developing a collaboration between English language teaching and Natural Voice/ Community Arts has been enriching and inspirational. It means we can engage and support many migrant women, as well as local residents, developing trust, confidence and community"
Tracy Shaw"Worked in the community arts/participatory arts sector for 30+ years - same needs, same issues and challenges, same arguments in support of, but now with the extra dimension of Covid19 adding further weight, seriousness and urgency. Looking down the list of signatories it’s no exaggeration to say that this letter has the collective strength of several thousand years’ experience behind it - please harness the power of that wisdom, knowledge and expertise."
James Allott"Community and creative engagement is vital in our society."
Sarah Laman"Community Arts changed my life and in turn I have seen it change other people's lives from small to hugely positive ways. It is needed even more now and the great work that has been done in the sector this year needs to be recognised, strengthened and built on. I strongly endorse the recognition in the letter of the work of smaller, local organisations alongside the invaluable work of the many freelance arts workers and add my name to the call for support for both."
Hazel Thomson"I believe that without participatory art mental health and wellbeing will be depleted."
Zoe Connel"I have been continuing to work with children and young people, and refugees and asylum seekers through creative workshops during the time of lockdown. People have been craving this content and artistic relief during this time, it is so needed for such practices to continue working with the diverse range of people who call this country their home."
Thomas Proszowski"Support is needed for the U.K. Art Industry during Corona virus pandemic"
Samuel Dunstan"Participatory arts empowers communities, young people and the elderly to live happier and more fulfilled lives. This isn't opinion, this is proven fact!"
Quentin Budworth"The Arts are invaluable to our quality of life as individuals and a nation."
Jackie Goodman"Feral Art School fully supports the views expressed in this letter and the urgency of a plan for supporting the work of participatory arts"
Julia Negus"I co-founded the Shop Front Theatre here in Coventry in the centre of a dilapidated precinct - it was supposed to be a 'pop up' space - a pilot to see who might come along and make work together...the work, conversations and activities created means our Shop is still here over 10 years later (not core funded or an NPO) - its been described as a 'living room in the city centre' but it means very different things to whoever engages and participates - we need more support for independent artists and makers, we need the hierarchical systems of arts funding to be diverted from 'traditional' spaces and more artists, and community spaces and places properly funded."
Sheridan Zabel Rawlings"Participatory Arts are the backbone of civilisation. Without supporting creativity and allowing communities to explore in this way, we are depriving the nation of thinkers and problem solvers."
Shereen Carson"I fully support this and wish to sign. Thank you"
Cora Glasser"20 yrs of collaborative practice connecting people & place."
Stephen Barbe"Thanks"
Dr Catherine Pestano FRSA"Please support this sector, its workers and all who need and benefit from this type of experiential growthful work."
Graham Dowdall"Participatory Arts has a huge and crucial role to play in supporting individuals and communities to heal, grow and dream."
Nicola Barron"Please support participatory and community arts. Our communities are missing out on the benefits of creative activities. Wellbeing, Community connectivity, learning and opportunities are all enabled through participatory arts. This is so important and needs acknowledgement and response."

Sign The Letter

We are asking people who work in the socially engaged, participatory arts and community arts sectors to sign this letter to show your support – whether you are freelance / sole trader, run a small organisation (less than 20 employees) or a micro-enterprise. We also encourage participants you have worked with, community members who have a long association with your work and your Board members to sign. If you work in an organisation that has more than 20 employees but want to show you value this sector and its work, then please sign as an individual.

ArtsChain is an informal network of participatory arts, community arts and socially engaged practitioners, based in the North of England. Its 90 members include freelance individuals and staff from arts organisations, some of whom are National Portfolio Organisations and some of whom are not. It meets monthly to discuss issues and share information and advice.

We have now had responses from Arts Council England and Arts Council Wales – please click below to read these, along with Artschain's response.

Reply from Sir Nicholas Serota,
Arts Council England

Before the letter, a brief note from Artschain:

ArtsChain welcomes this swift and positive response from ACE. We are encouraged that ACE recognises the role of our sector in the arts ecology and understands that the way our sector works with communities means we are well placed to address some of the serious challenges currently facing our society. We welcome the fact that the criteria for National Lottery Project grants will align more closely to the aims of Let’s Create and hope that this will result in many more awards to community, participatory and socially engaged arts organisations and community organisations. We are also heartened that Sir Nicholas Serota notes what we have said about the need to strengthen our sector and that ACE are considering how best they can support this and nurture ongoing learning and professional development.

Many thanks to everyone who has signed this letter and made their concerns and hopes for the future known.

Next Steps

• Please continue to add your signature to the letter, if you have not already done so and encourage others to do so. It is becoming a valuable document that illustrates the breadth and depth of this work and the support for it. The messages sent provide us all with a sense of solidarity, hope and valuable advocacy material. We will hold it open until July 31st.

• ArtsChain has taken up the offer of a meeting with an ACE Director but wants to be able to make the best and most detailed case possible when that happens. We will be sending people who have signed the letter a short survey and would be really grateful if you could respond to it as soon as you can, telling us more specifically what ACE might be able to do to offer support or influence others

• DCMS and ACE are not the only funders of the arts in this country. Consider whether you might be able to use the letter and Sir Nicholas’ response to lobby those who can fund or support your own work, for example, with local authorities, local education partnerships, commissioning bodies, Trusts and Foundations, the private sector, your friends, supporters and allies. ArtsChain can only make a small contribution – but together we can do a great deal more

Dear Gerri,

Thank you for taking the time to write to us on behalf of those working in the field of participatory arts, socially engaged arts and community arts.

I would like to reassure you that although these are challenging times, we are as committed to the delivery of the new strategy, Let’s Create, as we were before the lockdown.

Like you, we are excited at the ambition of the strategy and recognise that if we are to achieve this, we will need to work in a wide range of partnerships; participatory, community and socially engaged arts will be an important part of the ecology if we are to reach more diverse communities across England. I agree with your reflection that the way the sector works with communities means they are well placed to address some of our current challenges.

We were already investing in the work of organisations and artists working in these sectors, through our NPO programme, our strategic programme funds and through our Project Grants. We would expect to continue to do so as we embark on the next ten-year journey. We are revisiting our delivery plan for the first three years of Let’s Create and we hope to be able to publish this at some time in the new year. This will inform our approach to the next NPO round as well as any specific programmes we invest in. We are pleased to say however that we are imminently relaunching our National Lottery Project Grants and the criteria will be more closely aligned to our new strategy.

You are right that there are some specific challenges to be addressed in the short term and through our Emergency response funds to date we have invested £64.8 million in cultural organisations and individuals (not including NPOs and CPPs) to address immediate issues. The success rate for applications was around 70% and conversations with my area colleagues confirm it included organisations in the participatory, community and socially engaged sectors. It also included organisations who are new to Arts Council funding and some of them community organisations. It is worth saying that our Emergency Response Fund is exactly that and is entirely distinct from the next NPO round. It is not an indication of success or otherwise in 2021.

Your observations about strengthening the sector and the importance of ongoing learning and professional development are helpful and we are thinking about how we do this ourselves and support the sector to do so. This too will most likely be reflected in our delivery plan.

We are always happy to talk and have been having many conversations with organisations both known and new to us; some of these have begun to explore the issues you mention, and we would be more than happy to engage in a conversation with your network too if you would like to invite us. Let us know and we will arrange for one of our Directors to meet with you.

Thanks again for taking the time to write.

Best wishes,

Sir Nicholas Serota CH


Arts Council England

Reply from Nick Capaldi,
Arts Council Wales

ArtsChain sent copies of our letter to Arts Council Wales, Arts Council Northern Ireland and Creative Scotland, in solidarity with our colleagues working in the devolved administrations and have received this heartening response from the Chief Executive of Arts Council Wales. We welcome his emphasis on the challenges facing individual artists and creative freelancers and the value ACW places on the creativity of individuals.

Dear Gerri,

Thank you for sharing your open letter to the DCMS and to our colleagues at Arts Council England.

We’d very much support your analysis of the importance of the creative individual. The larger (usually) performing arts organisations have tended to be the ones that have dominated the media headlines. But we know that it’s not just organisations who are struggling – many individual artists and creative freelancers suffered an immediate loss of income when Covid-19 kicked in. Freelance artists and creators are the ultimate “gig workers”, moving from project to project to find the next pay cheque. Often, they’re doing this without the benefit of employee protection, and without any significant savings to draw on in times of crisis. Most creative freelancers have had 100% of their work cancelled. They are without income and without promise of work. Part-time and freelance workers continue to be denied the protections that their employed counterparts take for granted.

There’s also the fact that there’s a differential impact on some individuals that reinforces inherent inequalities.

The suspension of live performance and public cultural activity is one of the most comprehensive shocks to society’s sense of well being, as well as to the economy. But public health crises aren’t equal opportunities events: the poorest, most marginalised and disabled are generally the worst affected, while the wealthy, connected and healthy are usually better able to weather the storm.

This is why, earlier in the year, we put in place one of the largest support packages we’ve ever organised. So far we’ve provided just under £1m to Individuals, with a further round of applications following on from this and likely to deliver a further £1.5m.

Thank you again for your note – and all good wishes for your continued campaigning.

Best regards


Blog post from Arts Council England Chief Executive, Darren Henley

Although this is not a direct response to ArtsChain’s letter and the many passionate messages added by those who have signed it, we are heartened by its emphasis on the importance of participatory arts organisations and its recognition of the challenges faced by individual practitioners.

In a blog post welcoming the £1.57 billion of grants and loans for cultural, arts and heritage institutions across the UK, Arts Council England’s Chief Executive Darren Henley says ‘ This funding will be focussed on supporting cultural organisations through the coronavirus pandemic. This will include bricks and mortar organisations such as theatres, museums and galleries. And it will also include organisations such as dance companies, orchestras and participatory arts companies that might not have their own buildings, but that still play such a vital role in towns and cities across England. By investing in organisations across our cultural ecology, the government investment will help to support the people who work for and with them.’
He goes on to say ‘ We’re very aware that this crisis has also shown the value and the vulnerability of the creative army of freelance artists, performers, curators, technicians, writers,directors, producers, makers and other workers who make up the majority of our workforce. For that reason, when we re-open our Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grants for applications on 22nd July, it will have a focus on supporting artists and individuals and we are urgently thinking about what else we can do to strengthen our support for freelancers in the coming months. directors, producers, makers and other workers who make up the majority of our workforce. For that reason, when we re-open our Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grants for applications on 22nd July, it will have a focus on supporting artists and individuals and we are urgently thinking about what else we can do to strengthen our support for freelancers in the coming months

Read the piece in full

Reply from Iain Munroe,
Creative Scotland

ArtsChain sent copies of our letter to Arts Council Wales, Arts Council Northern Ireland, and Creative Scotland in solidarity with our colleagues working in the devolved administrations, and have received this supportive response from the Chief Executive of Creative Scotland. We welcome his emphasis on the opportunity to build a better future by truly recognising the central importance of creativity to people’s wellbeing, and his view that the ideas expressed in the Open Letter are timely and valuable.

Dear Gerri

I hope you are well and thank you for sharing the Open letter from ArtsChain to DCMS and ACE. We share your view that in amongst the devastating impact of COVID 19 on artists and arts organisations there is an opportunity to build a different, better future that recognises the centrality of creativity to the wellbeing of people and communities. Collaboration has never been more important and we are working with a range of sector bodies, sector Unions and the Scottish Government to navigate a way through this crisis together and to try and ensure the best use of available resources that will alleviate immediate need and lay the groundwork for sustainable future practice. It is a complex task in a fast changing environment but the collegiate support and openness has been immensely helpful and heartening

You will be aware that our Bridging Bursary scheme was specifically designed to give immediate financial support to freelance artists ahead of announcements of Government income support schemes and through this fund we have been able to offer grants to over 2200 freelance artists. We are currently in discussion with the Scottish Government and other partners on the best way to deploy the newly available resources and your letter and the ideas within it are therefore timely to inform that thinking.

Wishing you and your associates all the very best and do please keep in touch to keep us informed of any developments.

Best wishes


Reply from Roisin McDonough,
Arts Council Northern Ireland

ArtsChain notes that, historically, communities in Northern Ireland have particularly benefited from the many ways in which participatory arts can encourage positive and inclusive expressions of identity, and welcomes ACNI’s endorsement of our view of the role participatory arts plays in society.

Dear Gerri

I read your letter with great interest. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland wholeheartedly endorses your view of the vital contribution that the participatory arts sector makes to the betterment of society. Here in Northern Ireland we have a particularly rich history of participatory arts intervention, where the arts have in many ways taken the lead in areas such as enabling local communities to find new ways to express themselves and their identities in positive and inclusive ways. Artists brought our peoples and communities closer together through targeted initiatives such as our Intercultural Arts Programme, and continue to give both succour and a voice to the marginalised in society; older people, minority ethnic communities, vulnerable younger people, travellers, people living in rural communities, disabled people, prisoners.

The Coronavirus pandemic shut venues, paused live in-person performances and engagement, and took away the livelihoods of a great many artists and creative freelancers practically overnight. The Northern Ireland Executive has so far provided in the region of £5 million in the form of emergency funding to the arts, culture and heritage sectors. This has allowed the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to provide critically-needed bridging support for the creative sector, while the Executive has an opportunity to consider and agree a more comprehensive, long-term government support package on the basis of Northern Ireland's £33m share of the £1.57bn funding allocated by the UK Government.

Lockdown and social distancing has helped everyone to recognise that there has to be a change in how we deliver the arts and how we provide new ways for the public to engage with the arts. Throughout the pandemic, artists have shown an astonishing aptitude for adapting to circumstances and finding new ways of reaching out to audiences. The arts also have a strong history of engaging with audiences in unconventional, site-specific contexts – think of Replay Theatre's interactive performances with children with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties in swimming pools. This, coupled with the real hunger for arts and creative content that we have seen readily demonstrated by audiences, old and new, during lockdown, tells us that we must now use the experience to enable everyone, regardless of background or circumstance – but always with those people in mind who are the most vulnerable, marginalised or excluded - to become active participants in a new and encompassing relationship with the arts. This new direction of travel for us is one challenge that everyone working in the arts and creative sectors will relish, and one that we believe the NI Executive, in its current considerations on spending, should embrace.

We wish you every success with your campaign.

Best wishes


Reply from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

ArtsChain welcomes this supportive response to our Open Letter from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Whilst we know the sector and the communities we serve will want to measure the commitment of all funding agencies and government departments through their actions and not just their words, we are heartened by the department’s appreciation and recognition of the value of the work we do, its commitment to diversity and inclusion and its comments on the importance of the work of freelancers.

Dear Ms Moriarty,

Thank you for your correspondence of 26 June to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Rt HonOliver DowdenCBEMP,regardingParticipatory Arts. I am replying as a member of the Ministerial Support Team.

It is wonderful to hear of the important work you do, transforming people’s lives through your work. The government recognises the huge contribution the arts and cultural sector makes, not only to the economy and international reputation of the United Kingdom, but also to the wellbeing and enrichment of its people. We appreciate that this is an incredibly challenging time and that there are many cultural organisations and professionals who are currently facing difficult and uncertain circumstances. We are very alert to this issue, and are working to find solutions that support this vital sector as the lockdown eases.

You mention the wide range of people that benefit from the arts, including older people, those with disabilities and those in prison. DCMS believes strongly in the inclusivity of the arts, and that the arts should be available for all.Because of this, we are doing all we can to ensure that diversity and inclusion remains a key focus when moving forward. Research has continued to demonstrate the positive benefits participation in arts and culture can bring, therefore increasing equal access to enjoy the opportunities arts and culture offer remains a key reason for government support. The role of government is to create the environment in which great culture and creativity can flourish –and to ensure that everyone can have access to it.

As you mentioned, ACE recently published a new 10 Year Strategy ‘Let’s Create’which will shape ACE’s development, advocacy and investment from 2020-2030. We know that despite COVID-19, the delivery of this strategy remains a priority for ACE. We agree that Let’s Create relies on skilled individuals and a wide range of organisations around the country in order for it to thrive and be a success.

On 29 July, the government announced further details and launched the application process for the Grants programme for the Cultural Recovery Fund. It is our hope that this fund will allow for a wide range of organisations, including those specialising in participatory, socially engaged and community arts, to continue their work despite the hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to help contribute to Let’s Create. Arts Council England, British Film Institute, Heritage England and National Lottery Heritage Fund will be considering applications for grant funding against agreed criteria, as set out in the published guidance.

Guidance from Arts Council England can be found here:
Please note the deadline for Round 1 is the 21st August and Round 2, the 4th September. We hope this will aid in strengthening the sector, as you mentioned, and allow for the continued work of vitally important organisations and individuals.

I would also like to assure you that DCMS recognises the importance of freelancers to the sector. To complement the funding for organisations made available by the government, ACE have announced £95m of additional support for individuals, which can include freelancers. This involves an additional £75m in project grants. These will be focused on applications that maximise employment opportunities and those from under-represented groups and freelancers are eligible to apply directly. National Portfolio Organisations can also apply to create new work with bids that create employment opportunities prioritised. A further round of the ACE programme ‘Discover Your Creative Practice’ will also open in the autumn. This will make approximately £18m available for individuals looking to develop new creative skills that will help them to further develop their career. Finally, ACE will also be adding£2m into relevant benevolent funds to support those less well supported by the programmes outlined above, including stage managers and technicians.

I would once again like to thank you for your email, and for your open letter, which detailed extremely well just how vital and important the arts sector truly is. I hope that this email shows just how dedicated the government is to supporting both the sector and the incredible individuals within it.

Yours sincerely,

Francesca Martin
Ministerial Support Team