BLOG: Collaborating to tackle inequality through creative engagement

In this P4P blog, Neil Young, Development and Partnerships Manager at Impact Arts, discusses the organisation’s experience of collaboration as well as its ambitions for developing new partnerships to help achieve its aims and objectives of tackling inequalities through creative engagement.


Widely recognised as one of Scotland’s leading third sector organisations, Impact Arts was established in 1994 to tackle inequalities and transform people’s lives and communities through creativity and the arts.

Impact Arts considers arts a positive tool for social change – helping people to:

  • Build confidence and attain new skills
  • Move towards and into work or education
  • Enjoy better health or improve quality of life.

We predominantly work in areas affected by multiple disadvantage and with those often seen as the most vulnerable in society. The common challenge faced by all is that of poverty and its side effects, including low aspiration, low self-belief and a lack of personal and community confidence – all of which are often compounded by lack of educational opportunities, high levels of localised unemployment, poor health and social isolation. 

Since Impact Arts was established, we have engaged with almost 300,000 people across 30 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities, with a particular focus on the Central Belt (including Greater Glasgow, Edinburgh, Lanarkshire and Ayrshire).

Services Offered

To tackle inequalities, Impact Arts focuses on working with five different participatory groups: Children, Families, Young People, Older People and Communities.

Key services currently offered by Impact Arts include:

  • Creative Pathways – Impact Arts’ flagship creative employability programme aimed at young people aged 16-26 not in education, employment of training.
  • CashBack to the Future – Funded through CashBack for Communities, CashBack to the Future is aimed at 14-19 year olds, focusing on wellbeing and creative workshops including visual art, music, creative writing, and digital arts.
  • Make Space – a programme aimed at supporting and developing young people’s emotional and mental wellbeing through therapeutic arts activities.
  • Craft Café – Impact Arts works with older people in Govan, Glasgow and Edinburgh to help them learn new skills, renew social networks and reconnect with their communities through artistic and creative expression.
  • Art Therapy – offering a safe, relaxed space for children to express themselves through creativity and play, available for children aged 5-12 years old. Impact Arts offers one-to-one therapy; parent/carer-child therapy as well as therapeutic group work.
  • Creative Play – outdoor creative play designed to encourage children to develop creative skills, confidence outdoors and help them make new friends. Can involve a wide range of activities such as sculpture, treasure hunts, storytelling and painting.
  • Make it Your Own – working with young people (particularly those who are care experienced) to help them to sustain their tenancies, including being taught a variety of creative skills in planning and designing what they would like to do their home.

Examples of Collaboration

Throughout our 27 year history Impact Arts has consistently worked in partnership with other third sector organisations, funders, and public bodies in order to achieve our aims and objectives.

One highly successful example is our Craft Café project in Govan, Glasgow, delivered in partnership with Elderpark Housing Association and Viewpoint Housing. Craft Café offers a free drop-in service for older people to socialise and learn new creative and artistic skills from an artist-in-residence. The project has been delivered in Govan for over 10 years and was recently shortlisted for a Glasgow Community Champion Health & Wellbeing Award.

Another recent example was our partnership with West Kilbride Community Initiative in the delivery of our Makers & Artists Mentoring Programme. The programme provides structured training and hands-on experience in participatory arts practice for makers and artists who are currently unemployed. The project is currently nominated for a Scotland Loves Local Award.

Other great examples of collaboration include our partnership with Renfrewshire Council to deliver our Make it Your own tenancy sustainment programme, and since 2011 we have worked closely with National Museums Scotland who hosts our summer residency bringing 40-60 young people aged 16-19 to the museum to take part in a range of creative workshops.

Future Ambitions 

As demonstrated above, collaboration is central to Impact Arts’ ethos in tackling inequalities and achieving social change through creative engagement and activities, recognising that it is only by working in partnership that we can achieve our objectives to the best of our ability.

Impact Arts would be delighted to hear from individuals and organisations from across Scotland’s third, private and public sectors who are interested in having a conversation with us about working together, including organisations we have not worked with before or ‘unlikely’ partners.

We work across a range of service areas and geographies and with that in mind we are open to working with organisations across a diversity of sectors, recognising that creative engagement can achieve significant impact and add value in various different settings.

On a practical level, a central part of my own role at Impact Arts is to identify new partnership opportunities and I welcome any direct enquiries from individuals and organisations who would like to have an initial chat. Through my previous role helping to coordinate the P4P project I am both highly knowledgeable and passionate about collaboration and its potential.

You can contact me via the email below: