England & Wales

How arts and cultural activities are supporting co-production and innovation in public services



Cultural Commissioning Programme_with strapline

The continuing squeeze on public sector budgets and pressure on services, coupled with major demographic changes, means that the need for local innovation is growing. The challenge is how to achieve better outcomes for local people without incurring substantial cost. Some commissioners have found that engaging different local practitioners from the arts and cultural sector is enabling them to get great outcomes for citizens, improve services, increase wellbeing and remain cost effective.

The UK has a substantial arts and cultural sector but they frequently sit in councils leisure or local economic development teams. The arts have a power to benefit wider society and this power is largely unrealised. The Cultural Commissioning Programme (CCP) is a three year programme running from July 2013 to June 2016, funded by Arts Council England. The programme works to help the arts and cultural sector engage in public sector commissioning and to enable public service commissioners to increase their awareness of the potential for arts and cultural organisations to deliver their outcomes. The programme has documented successful arts and cultural interventions in areas such as

  • Supporting older people
  • Mental health and well-being
  • Place based activity such as community capacity building.

This seminar series will cover both theory and practice. We will initially introduce the case for commissioning public service outcomes from arts and cultural providers, review stories of strong practice and highlight the barriers to greater levels of commissioning. We will hear from commissioners who are leading innovation in this area about the methods they have used and the results they are seeing. The seminar will be co-presented by NEF (the New Economics Foundation) and commissioners with experience of commissioning from arts and cultural providers.

Delegates will:

  • Learn from practical examples of arts and cultural activities
  • Understand the methods used to commission in this way
  • Review their own commissioning portfolio and identify opportunities for arts and cultural interventions
  • Explore practical steps to change their own practice
  • Take away a package of materials to support them to make change locally




9:30-10:00    Registration & Refreshments

10:00-11:30  Morning session

  • Ice-breaker
  • Making the case for arts and culture in mainstream public services
  • What the recent research is telling us
  • Mapping current experience or levels of cultural commissioning

11:30-11:45  Break for refreshments

11:45-13:00 Morning Session continued

  • Sharing our story of change: case study presented by Kent Council Council (TBC)
  • Discussing opportunities and current barriers to commissioning more of this work.

13:00-14:00  Lunch & short film of a performance/interactive session from Arts & Cultural Organisation (TBC)

14:00-14:45  Afternoon session

  • Sharing practical examples
  • Reviewing the evidence
  • Identifying priority areas for more arts and cultural interventions

14:45-15:00  Break

15:00-16:00  Afternoon session continued

  • Action planning to identify steps to enable change in your locality

16:00  Close


* This programme is correct at time of publication, but programme content may be altered without notice to reflect speaker changes, which are beyond our control.


Lucie Stephens, New Economics Foundations Lucie is the Head of Co-production in the Social Policy team. Her work aims to increase the amount of co-production taking place in public services in the UK and overseas. Lucie supports people to develop their co-production practice, documents examples and develops the theory of co-production, sharing learning and auditing existing activity.  She works with people in communities, charities and third sector organisations, policy makers and people designing and delivering public services. Lucie previously worked at a number of large and small charities in the UK and overseas. She studied at the University of East Anglia and the School for Oriental and African Studies.
Who should attend?
  • Senior commissioners from public health, social care, mental health and housing
  • Policy makers
  • Elected members
  • Directors or trustees of Arts and Cultural organisations