Nottingham is one of the top 3 poorest cities in England (ONS, 2023). In December 2023 the City Council filed a 114 Notice, effectively declaring bankruptcy. 30% of the city’s neighbourhoods are in the top 10% of most deprived areas (Indices of Multiple Deprivation, 2019). These most deprived areas are where we focus our programme, because we believe that art can bring people together, improve wellbeing and change lives. Our key programme strands are:
- Citizen Artists – everyday creativity for wellbeing, skills development or fun
- Your Place – community-led approach bringing quality culture to people where they live
- Artist Development – nurturing and platforming talented artists who are marginalised
Since 1977 City Arts has been collaborating with artists and communities, breaking down barriers to accessing art and creativity.
At City Arts we believe that creativity is a human right (Article 27, Universal Declaration of Human Rights).
Where people are prevented from accessing the opportunities provided by culture and creativity, we seek to understand and break down those barriers. We work responsively with deprived communities as well as with individuals affected by injustice, prejudice and systemic inequality.
We disrupt traditional models of culture by asking: Who is art for? Whose voices shape culture? How can creativity change lives? Our person-centred approach opens up opportunities for creativity and access to culture for people and communities, who otherwise might feel excluded.
Our support for marginalised artists ensures employment and opportunities for a broader range of creative voices, contributing to a more diverse sector. Our work feeds back into the cultural offer of Nottingham, strengthening it and making it more inclusive and relevant.
How we work
Our small team brings together extensive expertise, spanning a broad range of skills. Our rigour, along with the combined sum of this expertise, enables us to unlock creative potential and ensure high-quality artistic outcomes.
We work responsively with those who face the highest barriers to accessing culture and expressing creativity. Our Framework for Voices, a series of community panels and consultative approaches, ensures inclusivity and relevance across our programme. We believe in shifting the balance of power to communities in the making and shaping of culture, and that relevance is key to ensuring artistic ambition and quality.
We uphold a high standard of artistic quality, demonstrated through our processes as well as our artistic outcomes. We believe that the better the art, the more potential there is for it bring about societal change.
This overarching strategy is delivered through a set of programme strategies, and is underpinned by a suite of policies.
Collaboration is at the core of our practice – with participants, communities, artists and partners in the cultural sector and beyond. Partnership working enhances Nottingham’s cultural offer and its development as a core city. By working collectively, we maximise the city’s offer and its relevance for communities.
We have established deep and impactful relationships with a broad range of communities. Some are communities of interest and some are place-based. Our relationships with artists are key to building relationships with communities. Our partnerships bring new and innovative opportunities for artists and communities to come together.
This caring and responsive approach enables us to grow relationships over a period of time, with community partners and participants becoming increasingly empowered to make creative decisions, with the skills needed to take their own projects forwards. This creates space for us to respond to new areas of need.
The breadth of our expertise, combined with an innovative cross-artform programme, enables us to reach and respond to different communities. Our expertise and partnerships with artists and other cultural organisations ensure a high level of artistic quality.
Cross-sector working enables us to reach a broader range of people. It expands the role of art and creativity across a range of settings including health and social care, science, museums, universities and local authorities. Across all of our work, we seek to impact positively on mental health and wellbeing, and to make positive societal change.
City Arts contributes our specialist expertise to a number of strategic forums and leads a number of partnerships in Nottingham, playing a key role in city-making. We have the talent and confidence as a respected community arts organisation to take a gently disruptive approach within the local cultural ecology, and to bring about positive change as a result.
Direction of Travel
We will bring all of this expertise to develop new models of place-based practice.
Working with communities, cultural and other sector partners, we will seek to understand what is important to people locally. We will resource and empower relationships between artists and communities, to co-design a range of creative interventions that will shape neighbourhoods in new and powerful ways.
We will harness the combined imaginations of artists and residents, and co-create activities that can change how people feel about where they live, and what is possible there. We will hold space for residents to explore and re-frame individual and local identity, in the face of the challenges and opportunities posed by societal, global and economic crises.
We are leaders in a growing civic movement across our city’s cultural sector. Our work will uncover and celebrate the social value of culture in our city. Through culture and creativity we will raise the profile of our communities and change the story of Nottingham.