Emerge Art Programme: Evaluation

Arts and Health programmeWillis Newson evaluated a Bristol-based programme offering creative activities to people recovering from alcohol and substance misuse who had left, or were about to leave, supported housing and found that it improved their confidence and gave them valuable opportunities to develop new skills and interests at a time when they were most vulnerable. "Wicked! Just for one moment, I forgot who I was," said one participant.

Another participant lacked the confidence to read aloud his creative writing. Encouraged by others who read his words for him, he eventually had a professional recording made of him reading his poems. This was played over images of the group's work at a final celebratory event.

The Emerge art programme was a collaborative partnership between two Bristol organisations: Emerge, a supported housing initiative dedicated to assisting people with a range of issues, including homelessness, alcohol and substance misuse; and Studio Upstairs, a working arts community which provides artistic resources and therapeutic support to people experiencing mental and emotional distress and to those in drug and alcohol recovery. Artist Barbara Disney lead a programme of six three-hour workshops at Studio Upstairs for 10 participants who had all recently left, or were coming to the end of, their tenancies with Emerge.

The evaluation explored both the impact of the project and the processes involved in delivering it. Willis Newson took a light-tough but robust approach to the evaluation. Simple quantitive monitoring data and qualitative data including feedback and the artist's reflective diary were analysed to demonstrate impacts. Post-project interviews with the collaborative partners explored whether the partnership had been successful. 

Participants reported increased self-confidence, new friendships and a desire to engage in further arts activities as a result. They were observed to be focused and engaged through the process of creativity, using their imaginations, developing their skills and supporting each other in the process. 

"Possibly the best moment of the session for me was the look of astonishment and pleasure in her face of what she had achieved" Artist reflective diary

Downlod the Emerge Evaluation report here

External links:


Studio upstairs 

"Participants have been highly delighted by their achievements, really pleased with themselves. It has improved their confidence, self esteem, belief in themselves. And it encouraged them to try new things, take risks"

Gerry Phillips, managing Director of Emerge Bristol