Recently, the Guardian published an article about arts centres and their role in social care. The article said: “Arts centres are not only havens for artists developing work, they also deliver cost-effective social impact and creative education”. This was not a revelation for arts organisations such as the Centre for Creativity and Enterprise here in Ashford. In fact, we see the impact that arts and crafts are having on people’s lives every day and receive many letters from past users to tell us of how their lives have been changed for the better.
We don’t do the work we do for the gratitude but we feel appreciated and know that the arts, and creativity in general, have a positive effect on mental well being and health. Occupational therapists recommend it to all of their service users, and so do mental health teams and counseling services purely because creativity brings people together and out of isolation, builds confidence and resilience, and communities who understand each other and have empathy for each other.
One thing is for sure is that any creative third sector not for profit can’t survive in the town centre, due to the nature of our town, without firm and long lasting support from local business, especially big business. And Ashford doesn’t have a lack of big business. But it takes vision, and some guts to take the risk to invest in something purely because you believe in it and you know your help will make a big difference, because the return on investment is purely social, and can’t be measured in numbers.
Of course, at the Centre for Creativity and Enterprise, we don’t sell any of Damian Hurst or Tracy Emin’s works, but these are pieces of work by local artists that enhance the space you work in, or live in, or visit, or …. And that’s the very fabric of community, support for locally made and produced. And local doesn’t cost the earth either.
Our gallery has now moved due to the sale of our building in the ‘alley way’. We were of course devastated to have to move again but, through the generosity of a number of Ashford businesses, we have the amazing building above Cafe Nero and it does look absolutely amazing. It is possible to build positive and mutually beneficial relationships with local companies. To do that though, there need to be people with vision, passion and understanding, and we know by experience that there are if you know where to look and who to engage.
The future of creativity is bright but we need to work together if the impact is to be significant enough to bring about lasting change.
To find out more about the work we do, visit us above Cafe Nero on New Rents, Ashford, Kent.