Blog Post

What next?


How one CPP is coming out of lockdown - and working to bring their communities with them.

Front Garden Music Festival. Image: Jacob Deer

Seed officially joined the Creative People and Places family in November 2019 with our first event planned for March 2020. As a national lockdown came into force we had to rethink, quickly switching to remote working. Not yet having a presence in our community since our initial consultation and research, this presented a few different challenges – the community did not know about us, nor did we yet know what they wanted us to deliver! As the pandemic progressed, we continued to work online using our network of consortium members and a few local contacts to reach out to the community. Despite the pandemic, we have managed to have a successful first year but as a relatively new CPP, and after more than a year of working remotely, we are looking forward to having more freedom to safely enjoy providing live events, and getting out and about in the community. As of yet, many of us are still figuring out what that may look like, while also knowing restrictions could change again on short notice.

Front Garden Music Festival. Seed

We have started our transition to in-person events already such as through our Front Garden Music Festival, which took place on Sunday 6 June. Although this was an in-person socially distanced event, we made sure to include the online community we had built over the last year as well as those who were unable to come and join in person, or those who did not yet feel comfortable attending an event, by livestreaming many of the performances via our social media channels.

It might be easy to get carried away and want to plan large scale events to make up for the last year and a half but there is a danger of people being left behind. We are working in a rural area where lack of transport infrastructure and connectivity is the major barrier to participation. Access to in person events may not be easy for people who rely on buses and trains to travel. We also have to consider that many people may not feel comfortable or ready returning to “normal” life just yet. It has been a long time since people have been to public events and they may be nervous to be out and about mixing with other members of the community.

As is the way with most CPPs, we are working in an area with low engagement in arts and culture events. Starting online meant it was harder to have a presence in the community to reach those who wouldn’t normally go looking for information about arts activities. Not being able to get out into the community has meant we have had to work harder and smarter to make those connections with local residents. Through a mix of online projects, we have managed to build a fairly successful online audience although we are aware there are large sections of the community we are yet to reach. We hope by switching to in-person events, we can introduce Seed to community members who have not yet engaged with us.

Although doing online events may have restricted our reach during the first year, there are several learnings we have taken which we will adopt as core practice going forward. Most recently, we have learned about the benefits of live-streaming events to ensure we are reaching members of the community that may not be able to make it in person for various reasons. By live-streaming, we give people the option to come or watch from the comfort of their own homes. This will be particularly useful for those perhaps more nervous to venture out to events just yet. We have learned that a blended approach of digital and non-digital can work well and ensures maximum reach across the communities we work with.

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All of this being said, we know there will still be challenges ahead, with changes in restrictions and varying levels of enthusiasm for events from our community. We are aware the current plan for the lifting of restrictions may change at the last minute but also that the world of arts and cultural events will take a while to recover. Arts and culture organisations have had to become incredibly adaptable over the last 18 months and this is not something that is likely to change, however we are ready to accept the challenge and continue to provide opportunities to our communities, taking forward everything we have learned.