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Maddy Mills is the Director of Entelechy Arts, and works alongside Jasmine Sparrow, Relationship and Access Co-ordinator and numerous other colleagues, to bring an impressive array of creative and cultural programmes to South East London. Below, we discussed one of their programmes, ‘Meet Me…’, to find out how the programme has evolved over the years and how they have navigated funding the programme.

“Meet Me… is a dynamic programme of arts-led social activities for people over the age of 60, run in Lewisham. It initially started with Meet Me at the Albany, and now we run Meet Me on the Move, at the Movies, at the Choir, and have run other ‘off-shoots’ over the years too, including a distanced programme during the pandemic”

 “It is attended by approximately 50 people who live in and around Lewisham. All members have a range of needs and many have multiple health issues, including dementia. Members live in the community and are from a diverse range of backgrounds”

“The programme first began in 2013 – initiated by Entelechy Arts, the Albany and Lewisham Council, who jointly asked the question – What happens if isolated older people attend their local arts centre, instead of a day centre? It was initially funded by Lewisham Council, through a fund called ‘Communities that Care’. Over the years, it has received funding from a variety of sources”

“The project works to multiple agendas – arts, health, creative ageing, community.. so we have had a diverse range of funders throughout the years from trusts and foundations and statutory support. The programme is also broken into multiple delivery outcomes (Choir, Movies, Move etc.) so we have attracted funders to support specific elements of the programme. The programme has been running for 9 years, and it is important that we commit to it on a long-term basis – there are no plans for it to go anywhere, and the shape of the programme ebbs and flows as needed.”

We also asked whether they had mentioned wanting to support socially prescribed participants to attend the group, when putting together their funding applications..

Yes, wellbeing and health has always been central to the project. Social Prescribing is an opportunity for the health sector to recognise this in a more tangible way, and what we have been talking about!”

Eight people sit around a large table working on their different craft projects, there is a combination of painting, collaging and drawing

Tips and advice from Entelechy about funding cultural activities/groups:

  • Co-production is at the heart of our programme, and our members feel ownership of the programme as they help make all the decisions about the content, structure etc. This approach is being increasingly recognised as best practice in community participatory work.
  • Engage meaningfully with health partners – get them to experience the programmes, listen, learn and share with them.
  • Partnerships are key. Meet Me is a partnership between the Albany and Entelechy Arts – we both bring different things to the table and that makes for a strong partnership.
  • The programme collaborates with lots of local partners too – we are part of an ecosystem and collaboration is at the heart.
  • For a programme that has longevity, expect change and challenges – they can genuinely spur new opportunities and give clarity around purpose.

Two Meet Me at the choir participants are sitting down, one of them has a microphone to her mouth, is smiling and holding up her hand.]

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