Menu Whats On

Inspiring and empowering people
through creativity to explore, develop and grow

Project in a Box

‘Project in a Box’

The Networks’ funders ‘Community Learning Innovation Fund’ asked us to give some details about the project so that others may be able to replicate it.

 Project description:

Networks has been a Creativity Works project based in Bristol, working with women who are involved in the criminal justice system and have mental health issues (or are at risk of either) by taking professional socially engaged artists in to deliver arts courses in five provider settings.

The artist-facilitators delivered two sets of parallel courses of eight weeks to over 50 women. The artists’ facilitation and contemporary community arts practice provided creative projects tailored around participants’ interests.

Partnership with two of the city’s cultural organisations, Light Box and Arnolfini enabled supported visits to contemporary art exhibitions, signposting to wider creative opportunities and an opportunity to showcase the women’s work in a city centre gallery context.

A series of digital studios, developed through prototypes in response to the women’s needs, interests and capacities, was central to each course, creating connections and communication between the groups and the city’s culture through the women’s artworks.

Visit the Networks On-line Studio


 Project objectives and planned outcomes for learners:

The project aimed to provide creative and cultural opportunities to improve the women’s wellbeing and sense of self, enhance their skills and confidence and increase their engagement through a developed sense of community.

The difference the project made in practice to learners, communities and other stakeholders:

At the conclusion of the project, the women said that they:

• had developed a better sense of wellbeing through exploring their creativity with the support of artists and professionals.

• had increased aspirations and goal setting

• were increasingly self-determined

• felt part of a group, connected with others.

The majority of women taking part:

• interacted with the digital studios, developing their familiarity and ease with digital technologies.

• created artworks which they shared with each other and wider audiences.

• experimented with new skills and media, including silkscreen printing, graphic novels, drawing and ceramics.

Partner organisations described an increased capacity to be more creative and having learnt new skills from the artist’s approach to facilitation, with further recognition of:

· creative projects serving as a gateway into existing services, attracting new clients

· the benefit which creative and cultural approach has on clients’ wellbeing, progression and development.

Summary of the project timetable:

September – December 2012 Development and consolidation of partnerships withfive provider settings in the Bristol area; HMP Eastwood Park Mother & Baby Unit, Teign Ward medium secure Unit, One25, Rethink Bristol, Bristol Drugs Project.two city centre cultural centres; Light Box and Arnolfini
Negotiation and contracting of an artist to devise and develop digital technology in support of documenting creative processes and artists’ reflective practice; to devise and develop a set of online studios in response to project participants.
Contracting of socially engaged artists with a contemporary community arts practice and experience of working with vulnerable adults.
December 2012 – February 2013 1st set of five courses delivered; online studios prototyped and adapted, participants & settings workers trained by IT Mediator
February – March 2012 Evaluation of first set of courses
April – June 2012 2nd set of five courses delivered; further development of online studios.
June 2012 Celebration of the project; Launch of the online studios and an online exhibition curated by participants at Arnolfini, Bristol
June – August 2012 Evaluation and reporting.

 Financial resources:


Amount (£)


Staffing costs; 2 development workers @ 2 days p.w.



Premises, admin and office expenses, travel



Monitoring and evaluation



Artist fees, DBS checks, training and support



Learning resources; journals and art materials, Production costs



Online studio development



Mediator/trainer to support participants’ access and use of online studios



Participant access support; transport, translation, child care



Course marketing, Venue hire



Project celebration event and online studio launch in city centre cultural setting.



Progression support







In kind partner contributions  
Organisation support Recruitment & venue
Setting support worker who knows the client group Attend pre-course meetingsWork alongside the artist providing support for the individuals and group around wellbeing and group dynamicsParticipate in art-making alongside the women participants where appropriate.Involvement in documentation and reflection
Management level involvement Attendance at meetings, partner forums, end of project celebrationInvolvement in cross-partner dialogue at strategic levels, identifying potential for the work to extend/continue.Commitment/openness to embed the approach to working holistically and creatively in their own wider provision.
Cultural partner Attendance at meetings, partner forums and end of project celebration.Accompanied visits for participants to contemporary art exhibitions.Signposting sessions around further creative and cultural opportunities in the city.Promotion and visibility for the women’s artwork in a prestigious city centre cultural institution.

Promotional materials:



Sample course plan:


Course evaluation tool:





Top tips based on the lessons learned from Networks:

• Bring partners together early on in the project to encourage shared ownership;

• Encourage management engagement at a more strategic level;

• Integrate evaluation into project through training with partners early on;

• Connect individual artists-facilitators with each other for effective peer support;

• IT mediation and training to support all users;

• Long lead-in time needed for recruitment & promotion.


Back to top