Briefings 161 and 162Voluntary Arts Briefings

VA Briefings are short, succinct publications which provide up-to-date and relevant information for voluntary arts groups and those who work in them. Briefings are listed below in reverse order of publication.

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Volunteering in the Arts Toolkit

Volunteering in the Arts ScotlandVolunteering in the Arts Toolkit cover These toolkits have been produced to support small and medium-sized arts groups who struggle to improve the support they offer volunteers. The toolkits includes:

  • ideas, suggestions and recommendations
  • a range of checklists for those new to working with volunteers
  • a range of case studies to celebrate what is already happening across the sector
  • links to further information

The toolkits has been written by Voluntary Arts and Volunteering England (England) and Voluntary Arts Scotland and Volunteer Scotland (Scotland). Drawing on these organisations’ experience and knowledge of arts/cultural volunteering, the toolkit uses a wide range of best-practice quality assurance processes and procedures, including those that underpin Investors in Volunteers.

Volunteering in the Arts Toolkit – England (pdf – 1.6Mb)
Volunteering in the Arts Toolkit – Scotland (pdf – 2MB)

Putting Down Roots toolkitPutting Down Roots

Putting Down Roots was set up to enable participants of arts and cultural initiatives that have finished, or are coming to an end, to continue to participate, either by finding a local voluntary arts group to join or by setting up an independent group of their own. It was run by Voluntary Arts Wales with the help of ArtWorks Cymru and supported by the Arts Council of Wales and Spirit of 2012.

This toolkit, which is suitable for new groups throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland, is designed to be easy to use by  participants going through the process of setting up their own independent volunteer-led groups. Featuring a mix of information and relevant activities, it is intended to be equally useful for groups to use on their own, or with a mentor to help guide them through the process.

If you are an organisation wishing to support participants of community arts or adult education initiatives in setting up their own independent voluntary groups, download the Putting Down Root guidance for support organisations.

Pathways – Mapping the voluntary cultural sector in Perth & Kinross

Map of Perth & Kinross Commissioned by Voluntary Arts Scotland, the ‘Pathways’ project explored voluntary arts activity in Perth and Kinross, and how connected the groups, venues and national organisations are.

The resulting report has now been completed by Kirkhill Associates. Supported by Creative Scotland and Perth and Kinross Council, the main findings from this research pilot indicate:

  • the importance of supporting local level cultural hubs to communicate directly with the people that lead voluntary arts activity in their local areas; and
  • the importance of utilising existing platforms for publicising contact information for groups, such as the ALIS Directory.

Voluntary Arts Scotland is now working with a range of stakeholders to consider how to take the report’s recommendations forward.

You can download the report here.

Five Ways to Wellbeing Toolkit

Five Ways to Wellbeing ToolkitIn 2008 a charity called NEF (the New Economics Foundation) developed a concept called the Five Ways to Wellbeing — a set of actions which, introduced into daily life, is proven to enhance emotional resilience and enable people, groups and communities to flourish.

Our Five Ways to Wellbeing Toolkit will explore this model as a method for setting up and developing voluntary arts groups, and for making the experience of being a member even more enjoyable and beneficial to health and wellbeing. It is mainly aimed at people who are in a position of setting up a new voluntary arts group, or who want to invigorate an existing group by increasing involvement and basing it on solid foundations for enhancing the experience of members.

Five Ways to Wellbeing Toolkit (pdf – 6.3Mb)

Restoring The Balance: the effect of arts participation on wellbeing and health (England)

Restoring the Balance is a collection of interviews conducted Restoring the Balance cover shotbetween May 2009 and July 2009. People from a wide range of backgrounds explain how their wellbeing, their health and, in some cases, their lives have been transformed as a result of arts participation.

The focus of Restoring the Balance is very much on how the arts contribute to good health rather than how the arts are used to combat ill health. While some of the people featured have suffered from medical ailments and disability the emphasis is not art therapy in the traditional sense, as valid as that may be.

The emphasis is firmly on how regular participation in creative activities has benefited people physically, mentally, emotionally and socially, whether that be from access to the arts as a result of illness, as part of a quest for a better work / life balance, seeking to deal with stressful situations, or, in some cases, simply having a desire to be alive in more than just the physical sense. The interviews will also show a range of benefits to participating in arts activities such as increased physical fitness, social contact, lower levels of stress, and increased education and skills.

Also included is testimony from a range of experts offering insights into why the arts and crafts play such a fundamental role in aiding peoples’ wellbeing and health.

Restoring the Balance (pdf – 1.85Mb)

Our Creative TalentOur Creative Talent research (England)

The landmark 2008 research, commissioned by DCMS and the Arts Council, looking in detail for the first time at the size, make-up and impact of the voluntary arts sector and its potential for growth. Launching the research at the conference, Culture Minister Margaret Hodge said:

‘For too long there’s been a stereotype of amateur arts in England which is clearly long out of date. This research is a landmark – the first of its kind. It shows the sheer size and significance of the voluntary and amateur arts sector. Far from being a poor relation to the professional arts, the sector sustains cultural traditions, encourages innovation, helps develop new audiences, promotes vibrant and inclusive communities and supports the professional sector.

‘Voluntary arts groups account for an estimated one fifth of all arts engagement in England. Groups are often deep rooted in the local community and we need to make sure that we recognise and support the enthusiasm and talent that is on our doorsteps.’

Our Creative Talent (pdf – 1.52Mb)

The Voluntary Arts Directory of Amateur Art and Craft Forms

First edition

This directory – the first of its kind – lists dozens of amateur art and craft forms practiced today. It provides a resource for individuals who are keen to express themselves creatively, but are as yet unsure of which art or craft form is right for them. If you are inspired by any of those featured in the publication, you can contact the relevant umbrella or lead body for further details of groups or workshops in your area.

For more information and to order online, visit

Order online today and save 25 per cent off recommended retail price.

Voluntary Arts Directory of Art and Craft Forms

Edutainment (England)

Whilst many people have been fortunate enough to have had regular and easy access to the arts and crafts, there areEdutainment cover vast numbers of people in England who are being denied access to regular opportunities to participate and in many of these cases adult education can offer the breakthrough, allowing people to explore their creative selves and in turn unlock the door to learning.

This publication explores what is meant by ‘the arts in adult education’ and its importance to our communities. The definition is broad and includes a range of activities: lace making, guitar for beginners, pottery, painting, sculpture, photography, creative writing, singing, dancing, etc. There is a tendency to think that adult learning only takes place in traditional adult education centres, schools or colleges. However, as some of the examples in this book will show, there are many other settings where groups of adults come together to learn, such as community centres, village halls and even other people’s houses.

Edutainment (pdf – 1.29Mb)

Making The Leap (England) 

The link between voluntary sports activity and professional sports persons has for a long time been not justMaking The Leap cover acknowledged but actively supported
– investment in local amateur sports clubs is seen as investment in athletes of the future at both local and national Government level. But in the arts there still exists a snobbery about ‘amateurs’ which means that this is rarely the case.

The case studies brought together in this book show that it can be done – that voluntary artists/ amateur artists/ those who do it for the love of it can make the move into the professional arts world, and that their experience as a volunteer or amateur is invaluable in that process. This is not to denigrate professional training – in many artforms it is vital, and indeed many of the ‘leapers’ featured here undertook some form of professional training themselves– but Voluntary Arts England would like to see arts training and qualifications placed alongside
experience in terms of worth and not above it.

Making the Leap (pdf – 1.95Mb)

Mapping the Future

Mapping the Future is a guide to planning specially written for small arts and voluntary groups. It covers getting started, what you could put in your plan, writing your plan, budgets, cashflows, resources and much more…

Originally created by Voluntary Arts Scotland, you can download your copy for free here: Mapping the Future Scotland 2008 (pdf – 1.92Mb)

Mapping the Future is also available in hard copy. We will print and send it out to you for only £10.  Contact the Voluntary Arts Scotland office for your copy (click here for contact details).

Discounts are available for multiple copies – contact us for details.

This post is also available in: Welsh

Voluntary Arts is the operating name of The Voluntary Arts Network (VAN) which is registered in Scotland as Company No. 139147 and Charity No. SC020345. Registered Office: 54 Manor Place, Edinburgh EH3 7EH, Scotland, UK.