Developing a creative economy and community is about ensuring that people gain access to cultural activities and have a chance to participate and develop their skills and see the possibilities that these offer.
Over the last 8 years, we have pioneered the use of cultural and arts projects to deliver a wide variety of social outcomes and benefits. Projects have involved people with many different backgrounds all of whom have benefited from arts activities designed to improve their self-confidence and self-esteem, sociability and social integration, deliver health improvements and to teach and develop creative and life skills.
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Social Impact Statements
The Social Enterprise Mark criteria includes a requirement that the applicant can demonstrate that social and/or environmental objectives are being achieved.
In support of this, new applicants and renewing Mark holders are asked to respond to a set of social impact questions, which are designed to help them think about the social impact they create, and to articulate this clearly and succinctly.
Updated September 2018
1) What social differences and changes have you aimed to create (or supported)?
Watermans works to build engaging and interactive programmes with as wide a range of West London communities as possible and to bring those communities together through cultural participation.
Watermans offers a varied mix of ‘entry points’ to the programme to facilitate and encourage different communities, including those who are marginalised, to engage with arts, culture and creativity.
Through the widest possible engagement, Watermans sets out to improve the following areas:
- the inclusion and empowerment of children with disabilities, and their families
- access to culture for marginalised communities in a diverse borough
- skills development and capacity building for local artists
- community cohesion
2) What actions have you taken to address the above social aims?
Performing Arts programme
We run a regular children’s theatre, including performances every weekend and during school holidays, and a Christmas show during December. The programme is designed to introduce young people to the theatre, and to be accessible and engaging for both the young audiences and their families.
The productions include a diverse range of cultures and artforms: story-telling, music, dance, acrobatics, puppetry and the imaginative use of props, both real and imaginary. The shared experience and underlying themes and values of these entertaining productions support the young audience members in developing their own sense of self-confidence as participating members of the audience and their community.
The Short Breaks programme
Hounslow Short Breaks provide opportunities for disabled children and young people to spend time away from their primary carers. They enable disabled children and young people to have the chance to develop new friendships, take part in new experiences and to have fun in an environment that is sympathetic to the disabled child or young person and their families whilst providing parents and carers a necessary and valuable break away from their caring responsibilities.
Watermans delivers a regular programme of cinema screenings and Children’s Theatre performances through the year for disabled children and young people, and their families, and special events such as an annual Christmas Party and dedicated workshops linked to Watermans regular programme of events.
Includes theatre, music, circus, and dance performances, visual arts installations and film screenings, delivered principally in Hounslow town centre allowing Watermans to reach new audiences, and to bring major London-wide cultural events to the Borough. Research on these events demonstrates that they are highly popular with residents, and support increased community cohesion, access to culture, and economic development of the town centre.
Creative People and Places Hounslow
A borough-wide programme to increase awareness of and participation in the arts. Watermans is the lead member of Creative People and Places Hounslow. Through the programme, Watermans has supported the establishment of Arts Hubs at locations across the Borough which currently have low take-up or access to arts programmes. The Arts Hubs are supported by a dedicated team of Community Arts Workers and Local Advisory Groups comprised of local volunteers who are working to develop local community-led Arts programmes.
Projects delivered this year include the community choir and community brass band, Bhangra and Fusion Dance workshops, and participation in many creative arts workshops and events. The CPP programme also includes funding for aspirational local arts groups in the form of Company Development Awards. These awards, together with tailored business support, help to further capacity building and professional development of local people.
Two grants have been awarded to companies who are now actively engaged in developing activities in support of CPP goals. Watermans’ Participative Arts team contributes directly to the Brentford Local Advisory Group, supporting their programming, and networking with them for a joined-up approach. The whole programme signals the Trust’s ongoing determination to reach disadvantaged communities especially those in Hounslow who do not currently engage with the arts.
3) What has changed and what benefits have been realised as a result of your actions?
Watermans has three key customer groups:
- audiences for its programmes;
- funders and service commissioners.
Feedback is actively sought from all programme audiences. The key elements of this feedback are:
- an annual survey among attenders from the past year to assess and track overall satisfaction and attitude to key parts of the service. The findings are used to inform strategic emphasis over the following year
- a feedback card system which is used throughout the building to capture individual comments and complaints. Feedback received is logged for timely review, any necessary action, and response
- feedback and comments which are collected for each exhibition/installation and are recorded and used as input into the evaluation of projects
- a feedback card system which is used at the outdoor arts site at Bell Square to capture audience views of the events. Comments from the reporting period include: “Never been to Bell Square before - will come to other shows now - will come in 2 weeks. talked to actors after the show was like being at home”, “For a free show, it is the best for Hounslow residents that cannot afford it. Big thank you”, “These shows def leave an impact apart from entertainment.”, A Polish audience member commented “Was so good to see this here. only been in Hounslow 6 months - this is wonderful” (the programme featured two performances by groups from Poland).
The feedback evidences the impact of the programme, and its effectiveness at reaching marginalised and disenfranchised communities.
Within the Participative Arts programme, all participants contribute to the evaluation of each project. An online evaluation process is used that records the levels of engagement as well as an assessment of the outcomes of each project. There is a programme of feedback for all participative arts programmes, including Short Breaks and Creative People and Places.
- Short Breaks programme
- “This was fabulous. Even though [my daughter] can’t walk she loved this event and was able to participate well. Big thanks [for helping us] achieve so much.”
- “This Short Breaks access to aerial workshop was great and my autistic son loved I, as did all the other attendees.”
Funders and service commissioners
Watermans issues a contract customer feedback form, which commissioners are invited to complete at the end of contracts (or mid-term if the contract is for a longer period). Annual review meetings are held with commissioners where possible.
Feedback for this period was excellent with commissioners being confident or very confident in Watermans’ ability to deliver consistently high quality services, and stating that their experience of Watermans is better or significantly better than other service providers.
“Great event!! The work that goes into delivering this is unimaginable, the result being brilliant. Fantastic event." Mayor of Hounslow
4) How do you and other people know your aims are being achieved? Or how will you know?
Watermans evaluates and reports at every level throughout its work. For each delivery contract, a full report is made according to outcomes and outputs that have been pre-defined as agreed with the commissioner. Report data is collected through evaluation activities including feedback cards, an annual customer survey, and a direct feedback log.
Feedback is reviewed bi-annually at the Management Review meeting. Finally at the highest level, the Trustees complete the Annual Report alongside the financial statements.
The below questions are not mandatory, but Mark holders are encouraged to answer them where possible, to provide a fuller account of their social outcomes and the social value they create.
5) How many people have benefitted from your actions?
Overall, engagement throughout the programme was very strong, with a total of over 312,000 attendances across activities over the year. These include the outdoor arts strand at Bell Square; at the Creative People and Places Hounslow project; and attendances at cinema screenings and live performance events including cabaret, spoken word, and family theatre.
Watermans works to reach communities across West London and especially families with young children, with a rich cross-arts programme of exhibitions, cinema, theatre, performing and creative arts workshops, and through local regional and national festival events and programmes of activities for school holidays.
Watermans extends its reach by working with local schools and performing arts organisation, providing an affordable professionally-resourced performance and exhibition venue, and through workshops and activities to support their programmes. Watermans also supports a range of specific community groups, including families with disabled young people, through special events and projects.
6) What examples can you provide of a typical service user experience, that helps illustrate the benefits they have experienced as a result of your actions?
Drop in Drama was a series of regular drama workshops for families to participate in together. The workshops take place on the Benson and Estridge estate in Hounslow Central, where there are higher than average levels of English spoken as a second language.
The aim of the project was to offer the chance for people to enjoy arts activities on a Hounslow Central estate where there are limited opportunities to take part in the arts. The project was initiated by the Hounslow Central Local Advisory Group (LAG), a community group that come together to influence and shape the Creative People and Places Hounslow programme, identifying the arts needs in the area. The group decided to try drama as the primary artform because they understood that drama could help break down language barriers of the communities in the area and improve confidence amongst participants. The project was aimed at families for two reasons: to encourage families to work together with the same shared goals; and to reach adults, particularly women, who, for cultural reasons, may not access activities without their children.
Target participants were families from the Benson and Estridge estate, an estate in Hounslow Central, which is known for higher than average BAME population and speakers of English as a second language, as well as lower disposable income. The London Borough of Hounslow was a partner in the project and offered a bursary for some of the estate residents to participate in the activity for free. After the success of the first term they offered to cover 50% of the costs for whole project.
Tale Be Told Theatre Company, a Creative People and Places Hounslow Company Development Awardee – an emerging company that is being supported financially and through mentorship and business planning by CPP Hounslow – delivered the project. The project offered week on week drama workshops where families participated in activities together including drama games/ exercises, role play, story-building and character development. The workshops also helped developed key life skills including team work, confidence building, imagination skills, presentation skills etc. Each week the group worked towards developing a final performance piece that was shared in the final week to family and friends.
One challenge the project faced in term one was the number of languages within the room – by term two this was addressed by delivering an initial session that included learning ‘Hello’ in various languages, by planning and delivering activities that were less verbal in their delivery and execution and by taking feedback from participants through a smiley face system rather than using words.
What was the impact of the project? In term one, an average of twenty five people participated across the six weeks and in term two an average of twenty people including parents and children. In the second term, a contingent from the first term returned because of their enjoyment and satisfaction with the project in the first term.
The demographic of the group included a majority of female adults with a mix of male and female children, approximately 80% unemployed people as well as approximately 5% White British. Nine languages were spoken across the group. CPP Hounslow’s larger projects reach incredibly diverse audiences.
With Drop In Drama there was a mission to target a particularly diverse group with a small-scale project and this has been successful. The majority of participants rated every session as ‘Very good’ with all others rating them as ‘Good’. When asked to describe the sessions in one word the group responded “The best ever”, “This club makes my day!” and “Takes my breath away”. Some of the parents described what they were taking away from the session and it included “I liked that I joined in with my children, I’m really shy!” and “[I will take home] a smile for my husband”. When asked, ‘Have you learnt anything new about yourself?’ – adult participants responded “I have more imagination… I didn’t know I could actually…sometimes I’m always shy, but when I first came here I felt like, a lot more confident…” and “I felt a lot more confident when I came here, and I found that I’m a lot more stronger…”.
Audiences that came to see the final performance were really impressed using words like “Epic” and “Amazing”. It is an overarching CPP Hounslow priority, that every project aims for community members to take the lead in creating artistic opportunities for their area. When parents were asked if they would like to play a greater part in organising the Drop In Drama sessions four parents identified themselves as willing and interested to do that.
7) What additional social benefits have you been able to deliver within your core services that distinguish you from other “for shareholder profit” providers?
The Summer Programme of activity for children and young people and their families offers a mix of paid-for activities supplemented by free drop-in sessions, which reduces obstacles to engagement and helps to extend the programme’s reach to people for whom cost might be a barrier to engagement. The drop-in sessions are held in the public spaces at Watermans, and so can further reach casual visitors who might not be aware of activity happening behind closed doors.
Resources allocated for the drop-in sessions include materials (art materials, books, costumes), and staff costs (support workers); the accounts do not support accurate reporting of the financial investment in this aspect of the programme but is likely to have been around £750, of a total expenditure on the whole programme of c. £5,000.
8) What social and environmental benefits have you created from internal operational policies and actions?
By the continuing development of the Environmental Policy, Watermans focusses on areas where programmes and activity have an environmental impact. The Board has identified Energy, Water, Waste, Materials and Travel as key areas for work, and priorities focus on recycling, reducing usage, monitoring and controlling energy usage.
The Policy also includes a commitment to specifically seek “green” suppliers, as well as favouring Fairtrade suppliers, partners and contractors. In development for 2018-19 Watermans has made provision for recycling of disposable cups and glasses and this will incur a cost.