Panel discussions

A series of lively provocations, responses and panel discussions on the overall themes of people, place, power and what this means for organisations now and in the future. All provocations, responses, reflections and practice-sharing aim to challenge thinking, stimulate audience discussion and provide a call to action. 

Provocations and responses compered by Talia Randall

People, Place, Power: Can we ever be truly democratic?

Jessica Thom (Touretteshero); Claire Doherty (Arnolfini); Quddous Ahmed (Poetical Word); Tina Redford (LeftCoast); Parminder Dosanjh (Creative Black Country) and Saffi Price (Wolverhampton Voluntary Sector Council).

How do people interpret cultural democracy and what might a truly democratic arts offer look like? The notion of power can be a provocative issue in itself – where does power lie within a range of arts practice? How is the wisdom of the street incorporated into funded arts programmes? How can Creative People and Places build on and learn from years of rich community arts practice? This opening session will establish, explore and debate the key conference themes by drawing on perspectives from speakers and audience members, including an opening provocation by Touretteshero Jessica Thom.

Giving up on power

Chrissie Tiller in discussion with Andrew Barnett (Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation), Charley Genever (Peterborough Presents), Emma Horsman (Cultural Spring); Hassan Mahamdallie (Freelance consultant)

Chrissie Tiller’s think piece for Creative People and Places Power Up looks at the impact of power, privilege, cultural capital, ethics and politics within arts and culture, and will form the starting point for this discussion. Panelists and audience members are asked to consider: Do the arts have the power, and/or the desire, to bring about real and meaningful social change? How might we begin to create new paradigms for sharing power and working more collectively? Cuts, cuts and more cuts…As the social fabric disintegrates, how can artists best empower and support themselves and the communities they work with?

Deep and meaningful community engagement: is digital relevant? 

Sharing the controls: inclusive leadership, inclusive audiences

Mark Robinson (Thinking Practice); Moira Sinclair (Paul Hamlyn Foundation); Simon Thirkill (Creative Scene); Asma Shah (You Make It)

CPP approaches lend themselves to building leadership from the grassroots, and giving voice and power local people. This session will share a range of personal stories and perspectives on what authentic and inclusive leadership means. It will explore power and control, and whether leadership is increasingly about convening co-creative conversations, spaces and ways of organising things rather than being 'in charge’. How can people be equipped with the tools (networks, confidence and resources) to grow and flourish as leaders? What are the implications for recruitment within arts organisations’ staff and boards? How can employers take responsibility on shifting cultures and creating new ways of engaging with their communities to empower leadership?

Hard to reach or easy to ignore: are we over-complicating diversity?

David Ellington (Diverse City); Sharlene Carter (Creative Barking and Dagenham); Jeanette Bain-Burnett (Greater London Authority); Stella Duffy (Fun Palaces)

‘Diversity’ is on many conference agendas, but is the debate becoming difficult to have sensible conversations about? At the heart of Creative People and Places practice is a commitment to offers that are relevant, accessible and fully engaging to communities – yet many are finding that diversity and inclusion mean different things in different places. Speakers in this session represent policy and practice and have a breadth of personal and professional experiences of what diversity and inclusion means to them and their organisations. They will explore and invite the audience to consider: What are the implications for budgets to ensure access and inclusion? How can all people be consulted about an offer without making assumptions about what they need? What is the impact of labeling people as hard to reach? What small step changes could be made locally, regionally and nationally to make a big difference?

Creative reflections on conference themes and call to action for next steps

Sir Nicholas Serota (Arts Council England); Quddous Ahmed (Poetical Word); Anne Torreggiani (The Audience Agency); Parminder Dosanjh (Creative Black Country)

A series of reflections on the conference themes that will draw on speaker and audience perspectives on what next for Creative People and Places, and similar placed-based arts practice. What has been learnt and how might we move forward together? What are the implications for sharing power and inclusive approaches to arts engagement? And what action might be taken now to ensure growth? Quddous Ahmed will perform a poem as his creative response to People Place Power drawn from conversations with delegates.


Panel discussions and conversations

Thriving into the future: how to build a sustainable funding base for place-based cultural programmes

Holly Donagh (A New Direction); Sarah Gee (Indigo Ltd); Chenine Bhathena (Mayor of London's Office)

This panel discussion will provide a practically-focused conversation around funding and business development that will give delegates ideas, techniques and tools that they can use in their own practice. It will explore new and potential models of funding for place-based community arts, including collaborations and partnerships across sectors. Speakers and audience members will be invited to share together their challenges with fundraising, where the power balance lies with the funder–recipient relationship and how much of a challenge this poses in today’s climate.

Arts, participation and wellbeing: a jointly told tale

Rachel Adam and Lisa Blaney (bait); Katy Hawkins and Josie Stone (Peterborough Presents); Emma Horsman and Catherine Hearne (Cultural Spring)

What does wellbeing mean in the context of place-based community arts practice? How is impact on people’s sense of wellbeing being measured? How are arts and wellbeing projects commissioned and resourced? How do arts and wellbeing projects enable exploration of uncomfortable topics? Case studies from CPP projects from Cultural Spring (Falling on Your Feet); Peterborough Presents (Bretton Project); and bait (Northumberland Recovery Partnership) will be shared to stimulate discussion and establish a shared call to action with audience members.

Insights from Creative People and Places Evaluation and Research

Helen Bovey and Kate Organ (Icarus); Sarah Boiling and Clare Thurman (Sarah Boiling Associates)

This session will present insights and findings from: an interim report commissioned by Arts Council England as part of Creative People and Place’s national evaluation; and a piece of research commissioned by the Creative People and Places network to gain knowledge about the varied approaches to engagements within the programme. Delegates will have the opportunity to reflect on the findings, ask questions and engage in discussion.

Going Global: People, Place, Power on an international scale

Chrissie Tiller (writer and adviser); Viktoria Nguema (Swedish Arts Council); Ailbhe Murphy (Create); Nikki Locke (British Council)

We are delighted to welcome delegates from the international community to People, Place, Power. To reflect the increasing relevance and need for international sharing and collaboration, this discussion will draw on speaker and audience expertise around the following questions: What does power and democracy mean in different international contexts? What challenges do different countries face currently? What is the potential for collaboration / partnership / learning from each other?

What can we learn from being uncomfortable?

Karen Smith (Heart of Glass); Matthew Peacock (Streetwise Opera); Helen Willmott (Made in Corby); Tajbir Settie (CPP Hounslow)

What does being comfortably uncomfortable mean? How can arts leaders, practitioners and communities be persistent with risk taking? In this open discussion, speakers and audience members are invited to share insights into how they have taken risks, made mistakes and developed their practice as a result. Case studies will be shared from the development and growth of national charity Streetwise Opera; as well as how local offers have been refined and reshaped by communities in CPP projects Made in Corby and CPP Hounslow, as a result of unsuccessful as well as successful projects.

Bliss Park: how to grow a peach tree

Patrick Fox (Heart of Glass); Alastair Roy (University of Central Lancashire); Heather Peak Morison (Studio Morison)

Bliss Park is an artist-led sculptural, skateable civic square in St Helens. We unpick the often invisible, but equally important, artistic processes, strategies and methodologies that mean the act of building a skate park is much more than just finding a place to skate, or making one, but a conduit for talking, acting and sharing ideas about how we behave and ultimately how we can survive, process our increasingly difficult lives, and ultimately prosper. And why it is essential that we grow a peach tree in St Helens.

Community exchange: how do we run projects?

Sheila Podmore and Ayad Al-Ani (Appetite); Aldona Zywicka-Thornton (CPP Hounslow); Teresa McCue, Joyce Woodhouse and Jacqueline McKewan (bait), chaired by Lucy Thurley (CPP Hounslow)

A session chaired and led by CPP project leaders and participants that will share the nuts, bolts and passion behind how arts projects and activities led by communities are delivered. Participants from CPP Hounslow, bait and Appetite will share experiences, learning and exchange ideas with each other and the audience.

With Not To: co-commissioning from the grassroots

Tina Redford, Sarah Threlfall, Hannah Threlfall, Andrew Small (LeftCoast); Vicky Holliday, Jon Humpleby, Olivia Furber (Creative Scene) chaired by Karl Greenwood (Appetite)

‘With not to’ is a mantra very much at the heart of CPP practice, however there may be times when pure resident-led activity is commissioned (fully ‘with’) and other times when there is no consultation (fully ‘to’)? This session will make use of the Audience Agency model as an example of a spectrum, and will present case studies from Creative Scene (Dough!) and LeftCoast (Mereside and Friends in Action) as a starting point for discussion around how true the co-commissioning process really is.


Photo: Stephen King. Heart of Glass. Heather Peak of Studio Morison recently took more than 50 local St Helens skaters on research trips to skate parks around the country.