Case for Support

A group of over 55s with their craft creation of a floral paper canvas.
A Craft Club session as part of the Young At HeArt programme for over 55s.

Why Support Ideas Test?

Swale and Medway: potential for change and lasting impact 

Our area is more than 50% rural, with some of the most deprived wards in the country, higher than average levels of unemployment, lower than average educational attainment – all contributing to challenging circumstances for health and wellbeing.

How can Ideas Test help? 

By supporting arts, culture and creativity to thrive in Swale & Medway, we believe we can build skills, capacity and wellbeing in local communities, raising aspirations and increasing employability whilst making the area a more attractive place to live, work and invest in.

A model for sustainable growth 

During our first three years we invested almost £1.5 million locally to create more than 28,000 new opportunities for people to take part in creative activity on their doorstep. We did this by collaborating with commercial organisations, charities, voluntary organisations and individuals.

Our model is sustainable, with diverse income sources including public, private, charitable and an earned element from donations and ticket sales growing year on year.

Our new town centre location at No. 34 High Street Sittingbourne is a springboard for growth, allowing us to support the regeneration of the town centre and reach larger numbers of people throughout Swale & Medway who can benefit most from participation in cultural activity.

A comprehensive business support offer 

We are committed to building capacity and sustainability in the local area. We support new business start­ups and enable more established businesses to grow, successfully taking products to market and building a sustainable commercial base.

We help young enterprise with skills training, accredited qualifications and hosting a Young Entrepreneurs network.

Our networked delivery model creates new opportunities for small­scale local creative businesses to benefit from large contracts, keeping money in the local economy.

We offer a programme of mentoring, networking and training for sole traders, freelancers and businesses, which is responsive to local need.

A programme of work with demonstrable health and social benefits for older people

With a large and growing population of older people in Swale and Medway, Ideas Test offers an engaging programme of events including dance, film and practical workshops with demonstrable health and social benefits.  Working with older people themselves to develop activities has paid off – 85% of our new participants go on to take part in more activities.

A proven model for engaging with even the most hard to reach young people 

We listen to young people’s views, engaging them in the development and design of projects.

We offer opportunities for local young people to work with professionals to gain accredited arts qualifications and learn new business skills via our young entrepreneurs network.

With funding from Public Health we have successfully run programmes to increase young people’s mental wellbeing and resilience.

Young people engaged in our programme have returned to further education, gained employment and established their own creative businesses.

We are a key part of the cultural infrastructure in North Kent, with strong local partnerships spanning the public and third sector, community organisations and creative industries.

Our programmes have evolved to meet local needs and find solutions in partnership with local people.

Utilising our action research methodology, we are able to capture information to measure the impact and social value of our work.