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from Great Art and Culture for Everyone,

 

to Great Arts and Culture by, with and for Everyone

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Executive Summary

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1. Valuing

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2. Supporting

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3. Democratising

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Background

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Everyday Creativity and Grassroots Culture

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Everyday Creativity: Why, What and How?

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Themes and Recommendations

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1. Valuing

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2. Supporting

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3. Democratising

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Appendix 1 - Acknowledgements

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Contents

Photo Credit: Nick Hand

F

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In late 2015, 64 Million Artists was commissioned by Arts Council England 
(ACE) to deliver a nationwide consultation looking at the value of everyday 
creativity
 within arts and culture in England. The work was delivered following the 
publication of the 

Warwick Commission Report into Cultural Value

, calling for a 

more joined up cultural ecology and revealing that only 8% of the UK population 
regularly attend funded culture. We have worked in partnership with 

Fun Palaces

Voluntary Arts

 and others to suggest ways of addressing these findings and 

this consultation has been a step towards understanding the role Arts Council 
England might play in supporting a culture of everyday creativity

Over five months we have met with over 300 professional artists and 
practitioners; everyday artists, academics, staff from arts and cultural 
organisations, local authority staff and volunteers in twelve towns and cities 
in each of the English regions. We have heard many different opinions, as 
well as many common themes and from these have gathered some concrete 
recommendations about how we might better integrate everyday creativity 
across a spectrum of arts and culture in England. 

Overwhelmingly we have heard that language, attitudes and the prevailing 
‘excellence’ narrative in the arts can be seen as divisive in terms of engaging a 
broader audience in arts and culture. It was understood by many that we have 
created a culture in which ‘Art is what artists do,’ and that those without skill or 
talent in this area are discouraged from participating or practicing creativity. In 
work, homes and schools all over the country people see a division between 
‘the creatives’ and the ‘non-creatives’, and those who feel they fall into the latter 
category don’t feel sufficiently engaged in the rich cultural ecology of the UK.

We gleaned that some of the characteristics of everyday creativity (the 
importance of process over product, being given permission, finding activity in 
your local area, driven by local people) offered great starting points, for people 
finding their own way into individual creativity and culture more broadly. We 
looked at how developing a culture of everyday creativity across the country 
might contribute to a more democratic, accessible and open culture for all. 

We realise that these findings build on the work of many others over a number of 
decades. The balance between ‘high art’ and the grassroots has been a continual 
conversation across the arts sector since public funding for the arts was first 
introduced 70 years ago, and there are many more qualified than us to give a 
detailed history of it. This consultation takes a contemporary snapshot of the UK 
scene and draws from a momentum manifested in national projects like 

BBC Get 

Creative

, Fun Palaces and the continuing work of Voluntary Arts. This work feels 

more crucial than ever in contributing to a balanced arts ecology where culture is 
valued by everyone.

Executive Summary

Executive Summary

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Including;

o Lead action research into the impact everyday creativity can have on 

well-being

o Take a stronger stance on creativity in education 
o Lobby other areas of civic life where everyday creativity can contribute 

positively 

• The arts and cultural sector to change its methodologies for measuring 

and surveying engagement in arts activity. 

• ACE to consider a national campaign that highlights the benefits of, 

encourages more, and celebrates, everyday creativity

• Cultural organisations (including ACE) to promote a culture of everyday 

creativity in their own workplaces and with sponsors/partners.

2. Supporting existing and encouraging more grassroots activity: better 
supporting existing examples of everyday creativity and helping to develop 
more

• ACE to adapt its current funding structures to better support everyday 

creativity. Including:

• creating a small grants fund EITHER as part of Grants for the Arts OR 

using community funding models such as Feast to distribute small 
grants, with lower requirements for up to £5,000.

• creating longer term funding opportunities for community 

development 

• funding people, not projects: supporting creative catalysts and 

individuals who are promoting everyday creativity

• training Contact Centre staff to better understand everyday creativity

• Commission a feasibility study into improving information sharing for   

local groups, activities and cultural and community events

• Continue support for networking opportunities across the broadest range 

of everyday creativity

3. Democratising an existing funded infrastructure: supporting existing funded 
cultural organisations to democratise their working practices and encourage 
more and better everyday creativity

• Funded cultural buildings, where possible and appropriate, should be 

better deployed for community activity. 

• ‘Citizen panels’ to be convened for funding decisions. 
• The arts and cultural sector to facilitate and encourage local, regional 

and national skills sharing between individuals from across the broadest 
spectrum of creative activity.

In this report we have attempted to find a balance between some radical calls for 
a complete overhaul of the arts funding system and understanding the important 
work that Arts Council England already does and needs to keep doing. There 
was a clear and on-going belief amongst most consultees that ACE needs to 
balance significant sums from ‘the gatekeepers of high art’ to the grassroots, 
and that subtle shifts in the focus of funding will have little impact. We hope in 
the recommendations in this report to have reflected a realistic balance that will 
contribute to further shifts in the ways everyday creativity is viewed as a central 
contributor to a healthy arts and cultural sector in England.

This report recognises that whilst ACE specifically could and should do more to 
explicitly recognise and value everyday creativity, the arts sector and society at 
large can also contribute to shifts in how this wider culture is valued. It is hoped 
that this report will stimulate changes in approach from other arts councils across 
the UK, from across funded arts and cultural institutions, local, regional and 
national government, and other contributors to a healthy civic society.  

Key to these debates was the search for the place where celebrating the 
everyday and respecting the professional meet, ensuring that all areas of 
culture are valued in the ways that work best for them. This proved to be a 
core challenge, and one that we have tried to reflect across the following 
recommendations, which were crowdsourced from all of the meetings we 
attended. They are broken down into 3 overarching areas:

1. Valuing everyday creativity in arts and culture
2. Supporting existing and encouraging more grassroots activity
3. Democratising an existing funded infrastructure

1. Valuing everyday creativity in the wider arts ecology – from Great Art and 
Culture for Everyone to Great Arts and Culture by, with and for Everyone

• ACE (in partnership with arts and cultural funding bodies in Wales, 

Scotland and Northern Ireland) to take a clearer, more visible stance about 
the inclusion of everyday creativity in its policies, practices and funded 
programmes. Including:

o Increasing the visibility of everyday creativity in all communications 
o Revisiting language including the use of ‘Great Art’ in public and 

internal communications. 

o Relaxing art form definitions. 

• The arts and cultural sector to commit to a central role in lobbying and 

advocacy across departments of government (local, regional and national) 
to ensure everyday creativity is central to policy. 

Executive Summary

Executive Summary

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Photo Credit: Bedpop Fun Palace, Bedford 

Credit: We Can Creative

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Background

64 Million Artists

In 2013 Jo Hunter and David Micklem came together around their shared 

preoccupations with the importance of everyday creativity and its power to 

unlock human potential. As arts practitioners they have seen the power of 

professional art to transform lives and played key roles in supporting artists to 

make excellent work. And they have both personally experienced the frustrations 

of an arts sector that tends to dictate that ‘art is what artists do’ and that fails to 

value a culture of everyday creativity.

In 2014 they formed 64 Million Artists – a major new project to shine a light on 

and encourage everyday creativity as an increasingly central part of UK culture. 

Using the methodology Do, Think, Share 64 Million Artists run experiments and 

interventions in the following settings:

Cultural Policy

Working with Fun Palaces and Voluntary Arts and alongside movements 

such as 

What Next

 and BBC Get Creative 64 Million Artists take a central 

role in shaping cultural policy around everyday creativity. They also work 

with King’s College London on major research programmes to explore the 

notion of everyday creativity and its impact on cultures and everyday life. 

Workplaces and Education

From toothpaste factories to universities and everything in between, 64 

Million Artists run workplace programmes to inspire creativity at work in 

order to promote better engagement, wellbeing and idea generation.

Wellbeing and Mental Health

Building on their work with individuals in the January and Friday 

Challenges Jo and David are now creating a bespoke set of programmes 

for people at risk of or suffering from mental health issues such as anxiety 

and depression as well as their friends, colleagues, families and clinicians.
 

City Wide Interventions

Between 2016-2018 64 Million Artists will be working with at least 2 major 

cities to explore what happens when you create a city-wide culture of 

everyday creativity across a prolonged period of time....over a year or 

longer. 

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Everyday Creativity and Grassroots Culture

In February 2015 the Warwick Commission Report into Cultural Value published 

its findings. The report highlighted that despite the good work of funded arts 

organisations, regular audience attendance remained at around 8% of the 

population and that more work needed to be done to encourage a culture of 

everyday participation in the UK. In the same month the BBC launched Get 

Creative in partnership with over 1,000 stakeholders around the country in an 

attempt to catalyse everyday creativity amongst the population. 

In partnership with Voluntary Arts and Fun Palaces, 64 Million Artists began 

to examine the potential of a grassroots cultural coalition to champion the 

importance of everyday creativity within a cultural ecology. It is the view of these 

partners, and many other grassroots organisations and informal affiliations, that 

arts and culture should be not just for everyone, but by, with and for everyone. 

These arguments build on a wealth of existing (and growing) support for a more 

democratic approach to arts and culture. An implied hierarchy that splits the 

professional from the non-professional has been perpetuated since the middle 

of the last century. However, there is a growing interest in this area from a range 

of different interests and parties. This report attempts to consolidate voices from 

a growing movement calling for a greater focus on the grassroots in the arts and 

culture at a time when ACE is reviewing its commitment across this spectrum of 

activity.

To this end in early 2016, 64 Million Artists brought together employers, 

local authorities, educational establishments, 

Creative People and Places 

organisations, individual artists, academics (professional and amateur) and Arts 

Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs), to deliver an action 

research project that explored how to catalyse cultural agency for everyone in the 

country through reimagining everyday participation.

64 Million Artists, working in partnership with hosts across the English regions, 

convened a dozen meetings to explore our understanding of everyday creativity

the conditions under which it thrives, how it can play a central role in an arts and 

cultural ecology, and what role Arts Council England might play in its support 

in total. We brought together 304 individuals, identified by each host, with an 

interest in the democratisation of culture, to contribute to our findings.  We 

worked with each host organisation to draw up a list of invitees that would ensure 

a broad range of voices contributed to the thinking behind this report.

Over the following pages we will outline what we heard at those meetings, what 

the overarching themes were, and what actions are recommended to ACE and 

the broader cultural sector as a result.

Background

Background

Region

Host

Date [2016]

No of attendees

North

Hull

City of Culture 

Team

25th January

26

Stockton

ARC

27th January

22

Sheffield

Sheffield Theatres

10th February

32

Midlands

Stoke

Appetite

29th March

18

Birmingham

Birmingham Rep

22nd February

21

London

North London

Roundhouse

2nd February

26

South London

The Albany

3rd March

35

South East

Norwich

Norwich Writers 

Centre

23rd March

36

South West

Cornwall

Cornwall Museums 

Partnership and 

Feast

1st February

31

Bristol

ACTA Community 

Theatre

23rd February

27

Academics’ 
meetings

Leeds University

28th January

17

Warwick University 6th April

13

Total

304

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Photo Credit: Camden peoples theatre Fun Palace (Credit: Joyce Nicholls)

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Everyday Creativity: 

Before trying to understand the factors that contribute to a thriving culture of 

everyday creativity, we began by drawing together its positive characteristics, 

and good examples from across the country. We gathered hundreds of great 

exemplars comprising street parties, guerilla gardening, painting in sheds, 

knitting circles, breakdancing in open spaces, Fun Palaces, amateur groups and 

community projects and asked participants to identify the common themes that 

linked these activities. Headline examples of those themes follow:

Accessibility of space/place

The importance of having access to a place to be creative was seen as a vital 

ingredient of everyday creativity. Whether this is a physical or virtual place, 

making it accessible for all, very visible in the public eye and having an entry level 

for everyone to come in was seen as central in promoting everyday creativity

Creativity by stealth

Many groups talked about the importance of ‘smuggling’ creativity into everyday 

life. When individuals and groups stumble across things and people are already 

getting involved, they are more likely to participate. This might involve learning 

through singing at school, or targeting parents by doing creative activities with 

children or taking part in something in the street or at a carnival. 

Process over product

This was a key theme in each group. The importance of stressing the importance 

of process as much as quality of outcome is seen as critical to a positive 

experience of everyday creativity.  Consistently we heard that it’s not about what 

you did (or made) but about who you did it with, what you felt, how it affected 

you. Many people noted our culture tends to focus on creative outputs (books, 

films, songs) rather than process (writing, filmmaking, singing) to the detriment of 

creative engagement. 

Being given permission 

Perceived barriers to engaging in creative activity can be dissolved by someone 

you trust or look up to encouraging you to take part. Society can put up invisible 

barriers (see the second part of this section) and having someone to give you 

permission to overcome them is important. Permission from yourself is also 

included in this. Many people noted that creativity is something we often don’t 

prioritise or make time for, but when we do, it has a positive impact on our lives. 

Cultural connectors/catalysts

Many examples of best practice in everyday creativity were led by individuals 

with a passion for ‘doing’ who had set up events, groups or clubs for others to 

join in. These cultural connectors or catalysts were seen as a crucial component in 

support of a landscape of everyday creativity

Sociability

An opportunity to come together with friends, or to meet new people was cited 

as a core factor in cultivating a culture of everyday creativity. People from across 

society are often looking for a legitimised way of spending more time with friends 

and creative activities can be a way to do this.  

Everyday Creativity

19

18

Self expression

Everyday creativity can provide an outlet through which individuals can express 

their ideas, opinions or feelings in a safe way. This was seen as core to the 

experience of everyday creativity whether it took place on your own or in a group 

setting, and whether it was implicit or explicit. Having an opportunity to make 

your mark, or share something that is yours, especially for people who have less 

of a voice elsewhere in society, was also deemed important. 

Digital/TV

The rise of digital has seen a greater prevalence of cheap tools for creativity, 

more space for sharing and a way of increasing the visibility of everyday creativity. 

TV programmes such as the Great British Bake Off, The Choir and Strictly Come 

Dancing have also been linked to rises in everyday creativity across the country. 

Whilst on the whole these have been positive developments, digital was also 

cited as a barrier to children and adults engaging in ‘real life’ creative activities.

Progression routes

Whilst there was a focus on everyday creativity not being primarily about skill 

or talent, the importance of having the opportunity to progress was deemed 

significant. Having available progression routes that help participants to see a 

way to continue or develop their practice of everyday creativity can help them 

stick with something over a longer period of time.

As we talked through these themes, we also uncovered a number of key barriers 

to formalised arts and culture that everyday creativity was helping to overcome. 

These included:

The prevailing narrative around excellence/professionalism

This was one of the key narratives that came up in all of our conversations 

nationally. Many consultees argued that wider society assumes that ‘Art is what 

Artists do’; that it is only worth doing ‘art’ if you are good at it and that striving 

towards excellence is more important than just having a go. This received 

wisdom argues that if you are not talented then your engagement is as an 

audience member, not as a creative citizen in your own right.

This dichotomy, between professional ‘great art’ and the everyday, creates 

a barrier to more people engaging in a range of arts activities. ACE, in its 

commitment to excellence and access, might be seen as focusing its support 

towards either professional artists (great art) or audiences (everyone). Many 

consultees pointed to support for sport where the amateur and professional are 

seen as equal contributors to a spectrum as an example of engaged activity.

Language around creativity and the arts 

Definitions of culture, creativity and the arts are perceived to be one of the most 

significant barriers to people participating in creative practice.  Many participants 

felt that language used by those in the funded sector could be seen as exclusive 

and ‘worthy’ and that it didn’t resonate with broader society. Words like ‘fun’ and 

‘play’ were deemed more inviting and it was felt that ‘amateur’ or ‘community’ 

Everyday Creativity

should be reclaimed and celebrated to raise the profile or engagement in 

everyday creativity, as well as audience development in the funded sector. 

It is also noted that this dichotomy, between professional and community / 

amateur, can be overplayed. Professional artists are often key to catalysing 

everyday creativity, the legacy of which can be longer term community led 

groups and creative and cultural activity. The role of professional artist as initial 

inspiration, permission-giver and confidence-builder is significant and can create 

lasting impacts within community settings. 

Lack of creativity in education and work

The education system was a focus of many of the national conversations, with 

participants citing not only the reduction of arts in the curriculum but also the 

lack of room for creativity in teaching with pressure on teachers from all sides. 

Many also mentioned that arts subjects themselves were becoming more 

regulated in their teaching – with children being made to create identical pictures 

or structured forms of writing, rather than being encouraged to play or use 

their imagination. Continual assessment from a very early age can stifle playful 

creativity and runs counter to the notion of a creative educational environment.

In adult working life self-expression and creativity are often discouraged and a 

culture of being a ‘professional’ version of yourself, rather than expressing your 

own ideas and opinions, is often the norm. Education and work can to contribute 

to a culture of embarrassment or self-consciousness around self expression and 

everyday creativity

 

Everyday Creativity

Photo Credit: Nick Hand