Blog Post

A voluntary sector perspective on Faster but Slower, Slower but Faster


"If you want to go faster, go alone; if you want to go further, go together." Saffi Price of Wolverhampton Voluntary Sector Council reflects on the learning emerging from the Creative People and Places programme

Creative Black Country Desi Pubs project. Amrick at Fourways. Photo Jagdish Patel

Saffi Price of Wolverhampton Voluntary Sector Council responds to Faster but Slower, Slower but Faster, a summary of learning and insights from the Creative People and Places programme to date.

An enjoyable and interesting read! My main reflection of this evaluation summary was that it chimed with my experience of community development practice, which is rooted in the values of much of the voluntary sector.

I felt that it was reflective of the current context (obvious perhaps) and supports the current direction of travel in terms of policy. The path we are all on is probably part of the continuous journey of learning, reflection and action, but is also partly a response to the more austere time we are currently experiencing. One example of this is the need for communities to become more resilient so that we can withstand the incoming tide of funding cuts. This is compounded by the need for people to be more active in their communities to fill the gap that loss of public services has left. Active Citizenship is a theme that has been around for a while, but I notice that it is increasingly forced into mainstream service design and statutory sector parlance more now than over recent decades.

It was interesting that much of Mark Robinson’s reported findings from the CPP evaluation then, in terms of successful arts participation and engagement, built on this theme. It is what we as a voluntary sector organisation, working over the long term with communities, would endorse and it has been the basis on which we have been working for many years. The references to Asset-Based community development, elimination of the deficit model of service design, co-creation and social capital - the community development lexicon that underpins our theories and practice.

This is neither a criticism of the author, the findings, nor in fact of those of us who should have known the outcome before needing an evaluation to tell us. No, in fact reading this report has been a useful reminder and re-enforced the theories on which the current movement for people ‘to do it for themselves’, active citizens, through and with their communities is based. I enjoyed having it encased in a new package and used in the context of arts engagement. This is something that we can continue to do as part of our day jobs. Increasing arts engagement and participation does not sit ‘over there’, it is not only for arts professionals, it is for us all to collectively bring arts practice into our community places and spaces and build our collective capacity. Participating in the arts is key to building our resilience, well-being and collective cultural and social capital.

There was something that lingered in my mind whilst I was engaging with the text, it insisted to be included on this page. One of my favourite quotes; "If you want to go faster, go alone; if you want to go further, go together."

This is one of a series of guest blogs. You can read other blog responses to Faster but Slower, Slower but Faster on the links below: