The Taking Yourself Seriously Project set out to explore the relationship between community arts and social cohesion with particular reference to sustainability of projects - beyond the immediate context. The Taking Yourself Seriously project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Connected Communities Programme. This programme seeks to encourage community co-produced living knowledge that directly works with, not on communities. The funding aimed to explore the role of artists in social cohesion projects in partnership with ARVAC, the Association for Research in the Voluntary and Community Sectors.


At the end of the project, the project team gathered together in Sheffield to reflect on the findings and to consider what we learned. We were joined by a Trustee, from ARVAC. We came together as one group, enacting social cohesion in practice. You can see the visual record of the writing retreat on the ARVAC project pages. The purpose of the writing retreat was to explore what everyone had been working on and how it all fits together. It was an opportunity to listen to each other and to hopefully learn more together about the ways in which artistic methodologies can inform social cohesion.

Towards the end of the retreat we developed reflective ques that we felt would be helpful to others who might want to develop their arts based practice to encourage social cohesion. These reflective ques, in the collaborative and discursive manner in which the Taking Yourselves Seriously Project is themed were developed as a group and reflect the collective thoughts of the Taking Yourselves Seriously writing retreat team.


  • A CREATIVE PALETTE … Use a palette of different types of art practices, that values all kinds of art’ community art, poetry, music
  • LOCAL TALENT  … working with artists who are based in the communities in which you are working adds an extra depth to the work. These artists know the area as this is where they live, living and working in the same space offers a commitment and accountability to communities.
  • SHARING UNDERSTANDINGS … Artists should be involved in the project from the outset, they then understand the nuances of the project and can fully engage and collaborate
  • PROCESS OR PRODUCT …. Be Clear … if Art is a Process or a Product. There is a moral obligation, that if communities give time, reflections and interviews that that is a gift which should be reciprocated in some-way