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Capital of Culture

Our long-term work with Efford has helped the community transform their local area.

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Take A Part had it’s start as a pilot project for the Efford area of Plymouth. At the time (2006), the area was the fifth most deprived in the city and was undergoing a much needed regeneration initiative focused on the Torridge Way area of the neighbourhood. Until this point, Torridge Way had a reputation as a no-go area of the city - the community had the nickname “Little Beirut”.

Urbanists and architects Shillam + Smith suggested to the community that they engage artists in the Master Plan process - creative processes support more people to engage with thinking about their local area and how it is used and developed. Through a series of research questions (“What about Efford makes you smile?”), art interventions (street dancing) and projects that brought groups together (the Efford Cook Book), the community became interested in what creative projects they could run beyond the Master Plan. Art in the community had already been a success; Plymouth City Council was awarded a Creating Excellence Award for the Efford Master Plan in 2010, citing the creative engagement as core to the work.

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Working with artists allowed us to reach far more members of the community. It was exciting for everyone involved. People felt like they were able to make a real difference to where they lived.

Debbie Burton Senior Community Connections Officer, Plymouth City Council

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In 2008, the Heart of Efford Community Partnership registered as a limited company and applied to Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts funding programme to run their own projects in their area - Take A Part was born!

Central to the work was ensuring that the projects were embedded and community-led. To do this, an Arts Action Group was formed of community members and local agencies (police, education, health, local authority, youth services) that could work collectively to map the local ambitions and create a vision together to fundraise and manage projects. The Arts Action Group wrote the funding applications, selected the artists and developed the programme of work and communications on the ground in the area, ensuring that there was true community ownership of projects. The Arts Action Group was effective as it collectively pulled together community resources to instigate actions readily.

Via some quick wins to get the community engaged (community fun days, murals), ‘Go and See’ trips and commissions with national and international artists, the community got to try out projects, develop ideas into realities and invest in their process and in their local area. Art became not something to view, but something that supported community development, social change and connectivity.

I used to think art was just pretty pictures on a wall. I know now that it is so much more than that.

Kath Hancock Local Resident and Arts Action Group Member

I used to just like playing computer games at home. This has given me something to do that is creative. I get to make art and I like to see art. I didn’t know I would be able to do that.

Loki West Local Resident

I used to think art was just pretty pictures on a wall. I know now that it is so much more than that.

Kath Hancock Local Resident and Arts Action Group Member

I used to just like playing computer games at home. This has given me something to do that is creative. I get to make art and I like to see art. I didn’t know I would be able to do that.

Loki West Local Resident

As time went on, ambitions grew and projects became more embedded. We worked with Sophie Hope, Neil Rose and Mark Vernon on Efford FM (a local radio station), with Anne Marie Culhane for Grow Efford, with WochenKlausur to create a new community initiative – Efford Community Vision and established Magic Hour, a film based social enterprise based at High View School.

Over the years, the work developed and became embedded. The community started to connect with the wider city and to go and see and bring into the community more art. Efford became Arts Ambassadors.

In 2011, when Brisith Art Show 7 came to the city, they devised ‘The Plain Speaking Tours’ to welcome others that are underserved by arts and culture in their communities to feel comfortable to take part in contemporary art. They also curated and programmed a retrospective show of the Take A Part process in Efford at Plymouth Arts Centre - ‘Efford: The Capital of Culture for Plymouth’. The community created a manifesto calling for more and better community-based art projects in the city and delivered their manifesto to council during a one-day march.

The community feels a lot more connected since we started making art together. We have had markets and plays, made cob sculptures and jam and even had a radio station. It has been great for us to be involved and be able to connect to the community more via Take A Part.

Kim Dorian-Kemp High View School

The Impact

  • Since 2005, Efford has moved from being the 5th most deprived ward of Plymouth to 12th most deprived according the Index of Multiple Deprivation
  • High View School (Efford’s main primary school and strategic project partner) moved from Special Measures for literacy to become UK Literacy School of the Year in 2014
  • High View School was Plymouth’s first Arts Mark Gold School
  • High View School has gained Ofsted Outstanding in 2011 for its community engagement and creative work with Take A Part CIC
  • Plymouth City Council won a Creating Excellence Award in 2010 for its work with arts in the Efford Master Plan process
  • Take A Part and the Arts Action Group has attracted £750,000 of funding to the local area to date
  • 2 social enterprises, The Allotment Project and Magic Hour, were developed

Project members

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