Partner pilots

The project

From September 2014 to early 2016, we are working in depth with two commissioning partner pilots to strengthen their commissioning of arts and cultural organisations. Support and guidance is being provided by NEF, one of the Cultural Commissioning Programme’s partners.

The pilots aim to help commissioners better understand the opportunities for using arts and cultural organisations to deliver health and social outcomes. They also aim to help commissioners achieve excellence in their commissioning of arts and cultural organisations, to deliver better outcomes for local communities.

Details of the pilots are below.

 Royal Exchange Theatre – Age Friendly Manchester Cultural Offer Programme, photographer: Liam McCormick  Photo courtesy of Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Kent County Council

In partnership with Kent Public Health, the Community Support Strategic Commissioning Team, and Kent Arts and Cultural Service

Over the course of 2015, arts and culture have been brought into a range of the Council’s commissioning opportunities, including a £4m community mental health and wellbeing service. This was the first time arts and culture had been integrated alongside more mainstream, traditional providers. The service specification for the Council’s Community Mental Health and Wellbeing service requests strategic partners to help maintain a diverse market of providers, and offer choice for people who use the service. It highlights that a diverse market is likely to include arts and cultural activities.  

Kent County Council, Royal Opera House Bridge and Artswork have also produced a toolkit for the UK cultural sector as providers, and the people who might commission them.

NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group

In partnership with Gloucester City Council, Forest of Dean District Council, Tewkesbury Borough Council and Create Gloucestershire

The CCG, with its partners, has been looking at ways of embedding arts and cultural activities within the NHS’ physical and mental health services across Gloucestershire. It has invested £150,000 into a grant programme to run nine feasibility projects that are using arts and cultural providers to deliver across a range of clinical pathways, including cancer, mental health and dementia. It is also exploring how arts and culture can be integrated into the county wide social prescribing scheme. The programme is being evaluated to build up the evidence base on the effects of arts in health. 

The CCG’s work on cultural commissioning has been written up in NHS Clinical Commissioners publication, Delivering a Healthier Future, Jan 2016.

Next steps

Learning outcomes from the pilots are being collated into a report for other commissioners, to be published in spring 2016. It will include a range of case studies and practical examples to illustrate the challenges and opportunities of a more creative approach to commissioning. It will also include templates and examples to show how the nuts and bolts of commissioning processes can be changed to enable arts and cultural providers to contribute to public service outcomes.

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