An Analysis of Creative Citizens Project
06 January, 2022
In Cahootz is an arts company based in Glasgow. We have always used the arts to engage marginalised people who don't feel included in society or experience stigma. Creative Citizens is our project that works with marginalised adults in Glasgow, specifically adults in recovery from addiction. In 2013 we began working with the recovery projects in Glasgow when we delivered Scottish Government-funded' Tackling sectarianism' workshops. We used drama to engage people, and from this, participants across the projects asked if we could work with them to put on a show. After delivering two theatre projects over two years, one with Phoenix Futures and one involving a few recovery projects, we applied for funding for Creative Citizens. Creative Citizens is an arts-based project that works with people in recovery to promote inclusion, confidence, critical thinking, and active citizenship. The whole idea of the project is to give people who are never asked 'what do you think? The opportunity to do just that – think for themselves.
We received funding from the National Lottery in 2018, and Creative Citizens has never looked back. From our experience, we knew that creative activities contributed to the general wellbeing of people who experience exclusion. Still, us knowing is different from convincing others, and measuring the arts' impact on marginalised people can be difficult. Therefore, we recruited an external evaluator, via Glasgow University, to evaluate our project over two years. The evaluation research used participant interviews and observation, focus groups, and questionnaires to gather data. It found that participants' general wellbeing and physical and mental health improved by participating in creative activities. Furthermore, the report found that people became more connected with their families, communities, and recovery networks, thus contributing to a stronger support system.
Participants of the Creative Citizens project all report that what is different about the project is that it is about them as a person and not as a person in recovery, even though they recognise how important it is as part of their recovery. We have a few participants who have gone on to full-time or sessional addiction services jobs. Creative Citizens is so important as part of their personal development and recovery journey that they have negotiated their working hours so that they can still attend the project on a Friday afternoon.
The last word should go to a participant. Please feel free to visit our website to view the full report or just the Executive summary (www.incahootz.co.uk>The Work>Publications & Reports>Creative Citizens: An analysis).
We have a short evaluation film that covers the project and the impact of the pandemic. It is well worth a watch; you're guaranteed to love it! Watch “In Cahootz Creative Citizens Behind the Scenes Documentary” on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/596734736?ref=em-share
‘When everyone first comes it’s weird as you’re completely out your comfort zone and having to do games and stuff with people you don’t know but after a few weeks it’s like you come out yourself and makes you feel like a different person, it’s so weird… doing the plays too, I done one before and the confidence you get is amazing, you just can’t believe it’s you that’s doing it’.
(Creative Citizens participant)