Agenda item

Presentation by Mr Ken Scott on Behalf of Kent Arts and Wellbeing


The Chairman invited Mr Ken Scott to make his presentation entitled “Using Creative Activities to Improve Wellbeing”.


In making his presentation, Mr Scott explained that:


·  He was a member of the Health and Wellbeing Board, the Chairman of the Maidstone Area Arts Partnership and a founding director of Kent Arts and Wellbeing, and whilst his presentation primarily related to Kent Arts and Wellbeing, it was relevant to both other bodies.


·  He wanted to talk about the importance of art and creative activity to wellbeing.  He wanted to make Members aware of areas of activity and persuade them to offer support on a non-financial basis.


·  Kent Arts and Wellbeing, which was founded about two years ago, was a not for profit organisation.  Its aims were to improve the wellbeing of individuals and communities through the use of creative activities.  The initial focus had been on older people.


·  The Kent Arts and Wellbeing Network, which was currently supported by about forty different organisations, was focusing on a strategic programme to establish and promote the recognition of the benefits of creative activity on wellbeing. The ambition was for the programme to be well-promoted and to cover a range of creative practices.  It was proposed to have four major localities based on the Integrated Care Partnership areas with Maidstone as the hub for the activity in West Kent.


·  There would be a focus on local communities, especially those with high levels of deprivation, and communities of interest (people living with dementia, homeless people etc.).  There would be an inter-generational approach and an emphasis on volunteers.


·  The Strategic Programme would cost somewhere between £500k and £600k over four years with the expectation that about £100k would be spent in each of the four areas and other money in terms of the co-ordination of the whole area.


·  Maidstone had been identified as a hub as it was recognised not only as the most typical area in Kent but also because it was statistically the closest to a typical town in the country.  It was the largest area in West Kent and had high levels of relative deprivation.  It had substantial arts activity to provide volunteer support and a supportive voluntary sector, but there were big gaps in the provision of arts and cultural activities.


·  Consideration was being given to a project involving singing for people who are homeless or who have chaotic lifestyles.  It was relevant to Maidstone and there was a proven model (“The Choir with No Name”). The key features of the model were weekly rehearsals to provide a constant level of activity and support; a hot meal after the rehearsal; and performances (a clear statement of the value of the activity) to raise money to become more self-sufficient.  An appropriate venue had been identified and a musical director/deputy musical director and/or an accompanist were required together with a project manager to support clients.


·  These activities could integrate well with the proposed Arts and Culture Strategy.  Kent Arts and Wellbeing was not looking to the Council for funding, but it would be appreciated.  Instead, Kent Arts and Wellbeing was looking for a commitment to support it in its funding applications, get involved in selecting areas of activity and to support those areas of activity on a non-financial basis.


In response to questions, Mr Scott explained that:


·  The Choir project was not just for homeless people; it was also for people with chaotic lifestyles who would also benefit from this sort of activity.


·  To move the project forward, Kent Arts and Wellbeing would work with a number of voluntary organisations in Maidstone and with the Council.  It was his expectation that people for the singing group would be found through organisations that exist already.


·  To run a series of activities around Maidstone would cost approximately £25k a year (£100k over four years).  However, the Choir for people who are homeless or have chaotic lifestyles would not be a cheap option.  With two music directors, hire charges and a project manager, it would cost more than that.


·  To fund the Strategic Programme, an application would be made initially to Reaching Communities and other grant making bodies such as the Esme Fairburn Foundation had been identified.  A progressive approach was being looked at rolling forward over the three to four years.


During the discussion it was suggested that consideration could be given to securing developer contributions and external sponsorship and using Members’ devolved budgets towards the cost of these activities.


Councillor M Rose addressed the Committee in support of the proposed Choir for people who are homeless or have chaotic lifestyles.


On behalf of the Committee, the Chairman thanked Mr Scott for the presentation.  He indicated that a report would be submitted to the meeting of the Committee scheduled to be held on 28 January 2020 looking at the proposals outlined in the presentation, research into how creative activity benefits individuals and disadvantaged groups and how the Council might work with Kent Arts and Wellbeing on Maidstone based projects.


Note:  Councillor Mrs Blackmore entered the meeting during the discussion on this item (7.10 p.m.).