About Us

Creative People and Places has people at its heart. It’s about more people taking the lead in choosing, creating and taking part in brilliant art experiences in the places where they live.

Voice Over project, East Durham Creates. Photo: Richard Kenworthy

There are 30 independent Creative People and Places projects working in 33 places - each in areas where evidence shows that people are less involved in arts and cultural activities than elsewhere in England.

Developed by Arts Council England with an initial investment of £37m from the National Lottery, the first phase of the programme ran between 2013 and 2016. Art Council England supported a second phase of the programme which ran from 2016 and invested a further £17m in the existing projects to deliver new activity for a further three years, as well as investing in 6 new programmes. In 2021, Arts Council England announced that Creative People and Places had become part of the National Portfolio for the period 2022-2025. Find out more on the Arts Council's website.

Since 2013 there have been 4.5million engagements with people as part of the Creative People and Places programme. 

86% of people who participate in Creative People and Places were from neighbourhoods with low and medium levels of engagement in the arts.

Arts Council England’s aims for Creative People and Places:

  • More people from places of least engagement experience and are inspired by the arts
  • Communities take the lead in shaping local arts provision,
  • The aspiration for excellence is central - this covers both excellence of art and excellence of the process of engaging communities,
  • To learn from past experiences and create an environment where the arts and cultural sector can experiment with new approaches to engaging communities,
  • To learn more about how to establish sustainable arts and cultural opportunities and make this learning freely available across the cultural sector,
  • To encourage partnerships across the subsidised, amateur and commercial sectors,
  • To demonstrate the power of the arts to enrich the lives of individuals and make positive changes in communities,
  • That activity is radically different from what has happened before in each place.

National Peer Learning and Communications Programme

Creative People and Places was developed as an action research programme – with a commitment to experiment with new approaches to inspire and excite people about the arts.

Places are supported by the CPP National Peer Learning and Communications Programme, funded by Arts Council England. This programme brings tgether the CPP Places in a network of their peers and develops anf facilitates learning to from one another by openly sharing successes and challenges, supporting one another to problem solve, and by collaborating on projects.

Places come together for themed gatherings, which they shape and lead. For example, there have been events around artistic quality, marketing, talent development, social capital, engagement, artistic practice, cultural ecologies, activism and diversity. We also have an online networking platform, which Places use to share resources, ask questions and  network.

The National Peer Learning and Communications programme also commissions studies that explore emerging themes from the work of Creative People and Places and share this learning with each other and the wider sector. In 2017 we commissioned two studies: one Persistant Encounter, looking at social capital and another mapping the different approaches to engagement across the programme. In 2018 we commissioned two studies, one exploring artistic practice and another looking at cultural ecologies. In 2019 we commissioned a study exploring leadership approaches in CPP network, and are currently working on a new research study, How Diverse Are We Really? which will be published in September 2021.

These studies can be found on the Our Learning pages, alongside other publications that reflect on learnings from individual projects.

We work together to share the learnings that emerge from the programmes with the wider arts and cultural sector and others interested in our approaches. These resources can be found on the Our Impact pages, alongside and data and evidence reports on the impact of the Creative People and Places projects.

We also host national conferences where we share learning with each other and the wider sector. Our next conference, People Place Power will be in December 2021, sign up to our newsletter to make sure you receive notifications about this major event.

For further information about the National Peer Learning and Communications programme contact Amanda Smethurst (Peer Learning Manager) at amanda@creativepeopleplaces.org.uk or Caroline Griffin (Communications Manager) at caroline@creativepeopleplaces.org.uk.


Appetite, Taster Tour, Freeport Talke shopping centre, Stoke-on-Trent Photo: Andrew Billington