Portfolio > Sector > Early Years

Art at the Heart Consultation

Art at the Heart is being developed with Horizons Community Learning and Hastings and St Leonards Children’s Centres with the ambition to develop a multi-strand arts programme for families and adults, with a specific focus on using the arts to bring people together, combat social isolation and develop skills. The programme builds on our Creative Adventures programme developed with the same partners.

With support from the Hastings Exchange Seed Fund at the University of Brighton we have been able to run an extensive programme of consultation over the last year, with input from the University into methodology and data analysis. Our Creative Champions have led creative activities with groups and at events across the town, using these as a prompt to talk to people about their interests and future programmes.

Who was involved?

  • Professor Irralie Doel, University of Brighton in Hastings
  • Laura Barritt, Business Studies student at University of Brighton
  • Sharon Haward, artist and volunteer coordinator
  • Creative Champions (volunteers): Su Bishop, Helen Bryant, Mike Stephens, Debbie Ward, Da Dawan, Naomi Holdbrook, Jess Whelan
  • Sonia Plato at Horizons Community Learning
  • Donna Meenan and Gary Storer at St Leonards Children’s Centres
  • 300 people and their families at the different events


What do people get from taking part in arts activities? What would people like to do? What stops them taking part and what would help?


  • To recruit and support a team of volunteers, built around the Creative Champion team, to lead consultation events
  • To identify target groups and events for consultation, either through volunteers or partner organisations
  • To draw together evidence through a literature review and local data collection
  • To analyse data and develop a funding bid

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Our Creative Champions facilitated activities and conversations at 17 different events and places including toddler and nursery groups, Big Local meetings, Priory Meadow, Play in the Park, ESOL groups, Horizons events, Education Futures Trust Family Fest.

300 people filled in questionnaires with 208 providing contact details for further involvement. 40 people were interested in a Creative Champion role.

We have a clear idea of barriers and need in relation to programming activities in the future.

Barriers mentioned included: knowing where to find out about things, anxiety, lack of facilities, age range for the activities, mental health issues

What helps: people to go with, who’s running the activity, interesting activities