Pallant House Gallery - Museums Association

Pallant House Gallery

Established in 2002, Pallant House Gallery’s Community Programme offers numerous opportunities for individuals to use the gallery in a way that meets their own needs and aspirations. From weekly informal drop-ins and structured workshops to dementia-friendly sessions and the integral Partners in Art scheme, the programme provides creative activities that enable meaningful and long-term engagement with the broadest range of users.

Although the work of the Community Programme has been widely recognised, it has never been independently evaluated. With this in mind, Pallant House Gallery commissioned a programme of research to be carried out by the independent arts evaluator and researcher Susan Potter. The key objective of the study was to investigate the potential social impacts of the Community Programme and produce an evidence base to measure future developments.

The mixed method study was conducted between November 2015 and March 2016, and engaged with 10 partner organisations and 150 individuals. The study comprised of an online questionnaire, focus group meetings and interviews with participants, key partners and stakeholder organisations.

Online survey respondents reported a number of positive individual impacts as a result of their engagement with the programme; for example, 83% respondents reported developing new skills and 50% reported feeling less isolated and/or lonely. Overall, 36% reported improved health and wellbeing and more than 90% said that the programme provided inspiring creative experiences, a safe place to work, and helped to build confidence and self-esteem.

Interviews with Community Programme participants revealed further positive outcomes including decreased social isolation, as well as feeling inspired to continue being creative. Gallery employees, trustees and volunteers reported that the programme had given them a sense of pride in working with the gallery and a more positive attitude towards the local community. Partner organisations also revealed that the programme provided support for local health and adult social services and helped the District Council and County Council meet policy aims.

Following the report, a number of recommendations were made which will help to sustain and further develop the programme. With this evidence base we have the opportunity to assume a leadership role in demonstrating the Community Programme as a model of best practice in community engagement and social inclusion, both locally and nationally.

By offering opportunities that allow people to step out of the medical and social care world and into inspiring and inclusive cultural spaces, initiatives such as the Community Programme offer museums and galleries a valuable new way of engaging their local communities.

Sandra Peaty, Head of Learning and Community, Pallant House Gallery

Links and downloads

Download and read the full report