Bringing communities together: Shoreditch and Hoxton Art Fund report reveals success behind ambition

A groundbreaking Council initiative, which created a community arts and cultural fund by using money raised from charges on developers building in Shoreditch and Hoxton, has been endorsed by a new report.

The fund provided investment into arts and cultural-led community projects, which were designed to boost the confidence and skills of the communities that make up the Shoreditch and Hoxton neighbourhoods, connecting residents with the creative-led economy. The new evaluation report, by Social Life, found that the initiative has delivered on its aims to make the arts accessible for all, create new opportunities for local people and positively impact on the well being and mental health of residents.

The Shoreditch and Hoxton Art Fund was launched in 2019 as an innovative and unique way to connect the local community with regeneration projects in Shoreditch and Hoxton, providing opportunities for local organisations, residents, visitors and commuters. Using money raised from planning charges on new developments known as section 106 contributions, the fund provided local arts and cultural organisations the opportunity to design projects that connected local residents with the changing neighbourhood.

Over the course of three funding rounds, a range of initiatives were commissioned, from celebrating young voices and people from migrant backgrounds to live soap operas, intergenerational orchestras and projections celebrating identity and belonging. The Social Life evaluation report has concluded that the project provided opportunities that resulted in 95% of participants saying they gained self confidence after participating in a project and 86% gaining or improving a skill. All the participants surveyed felt that their participation had been a positive experience and the projects were culturally relevant to them, particularly against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting isolation many experienced over the course of 2020 and 2021.

The report says: “Funded organisations reported that the biggest long-term benefits of participating in the programme were the connections they made through the project, the local partnerships that were formed and the new audiences they reached through the work.”

The Shoreditch and Hoxton Art Fund saw £250,000 awarded to 13 arts organisations that delivered 16 projects over three years. An additional £228,000 was raised in match funding. The projects collectively engaged more than 5,100 participants in workshops and involved more than 30 local artists, including writers, potters, documentary film-makers and musicians. Nine local schools were also engaged.

 Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney

The exceptional array of projects realised through Shoreditch and Hoxton Art Fund investment over the last four years is testament to the strength of the creative community in this part of Hackney, a creative community that the Council is committed to protecting and helping develop.

It’s plain for all to see that Shoreditch and Hoxton have undergone a significant period of change in recent times and as the creative community has grown, it has been important to ensure there are direct benefits for grassroots culture and the wider community, from the new development taking place.

It has been a privilege to see the response from Hackney’s arts and cultural organisations, especially those based in Shoreditch, the great ideas and collaborations have served as a reminder of the special talent of our arts and cultural organisations.

Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney

It is exciting to see this project use planning tools creatively to ensure that benefits of growth are felt more widely. Our research demonstrated that the Shoreditch and Hoxton Art Fund had significant and meaningful social impacts on local communities typically not benefitting from developments.

Larissa Begault, Programme Lead at Social Life

Another objective of the evaluation was to establish best practice for other local authorities seeking to to leverage resources from development to directly benefit local residents through funding for arts and cultural projects.

A toolkit has been developed, providing details of how to make the process replicable, expand cultural relevance, foster relationships and networks, support the long-term viability of local arts groups and track impact.

Shoreditch and Hoxton Art Fund Evaluation final report (PDF 5mb).

Shoreditch and Hoxton Art Fund Evaluation summary report (PDF 4mb).

The good practice toolkit (PDF 9mb).