The story of Ideas Test isn’t the story of one person.
It’s a story of the people in Medway and Swale and the determination and passion of all those communities and organisations who’ve been a part of Ideas Test.
So if you’ve taken part in a workshop, are a current or past consortium member, worked with us as an artist, a funder or partner organisation, or been a member of the Ideas Test team this story isn’t just ours…it’s your story
The Early Days
A group of Swale & Medway-based voluntary and arts organisations got together who were passionate about the value of arts and culture in the community. They formed a consortium, led by Swale CVS and applied for funding from the Arts Council England’s Creative People & Places programme.
In 2012 Ideas Test became one of the first seven Creative People and Places (CPP) projects in England. Each CPP project is based in areas of England where people have fewer opportunities to get involved in the arts.
From the beginning, we’ve believed in giving power to the communities we work with so they can make their own creative choices. We worked with a network of local people nominated by their local community as people who cared about getting things done and encouraging positive change.
We also helped small arts projects with our Small Experiments scheme. These projects helped more of our communities to take part in the arts in new ways and were chosen by community panels.
From 2015 to early 2020, Ideas Test were based in a shop – No. 34, Sittingbourne High Street. As well as our office, this became a venue for some of our arts programme and exhibitions. We also programmed arts event and activities at locations across Swale & Medway
In 2017 we introduced our Youth Programme strand for young people aged 14 to 25 that still continues today.
2020 and beyond
In June 2020, Ideas Test became a CIO, or Charitable Incorporated Organisation.
We now have more opportunities for fundraising, sponsorship and crowdfunding.
Being a CIO means we have opportunities for fundraising, sponsorship and crowdfunding which will, in turn, mean we can bring more creative arts projects for, and by, local communities in Medway and Swale.
Ideas Test entered Phase 3 of its Creative People and Places funding in April 2020. We are using the things we’ve learned across our work to focus on our communities.
In 2020, we moved to Gillingham, and in March 2021 we moved our office to Chatham.
During the Coronavirus pandemic, we’ve worked from home, using technology to bring our communities together with projects like the award-shortlisted Sea Folk Sing, our Snack & Chat session where young people can meet and talk with us, and our upcoming You Me Us project.
As soon as we’re able to we will again focus on the hyper-local – going out into the communities to places where people already feel at home such as social clubs, libraries and shopping centres.
Our focus is on:
People often find it difficult to find activities they can do with their whole family. We want to bring free and low-cost activities to those families who often feel isolated and not a part of arts and culture.
They are the future of our creative industries. Many young people in our communities lack opportunities to experience the inspirational and life-changing moments that theatre, music, dance, art and creativity can bring them. We want to change that by giving them those opportunities and show them that they have a place in the future of the arts.
People over 55 often feel overlooked by their communities, despite their knowledge and experience. We want to give these people a chance to see that they still have a lot to give their local area and maybe even learn a new thing or two.
Artists and Creatives
The South-East has seen a rise in artists and creatives settling in areas such as Whitstable and Margate. We want to help and support the existing art scenes in Medway and Swale and help those who are new, emerging and undiscovered.
We know that in these communities there are many sections which will overlap. Older people are often essential parts of their families day-to-day lives. Young people can have families of their own, and anyone of any age can be an artist or want a creative career.
We also know that Medway and Swale has a wide range of different communities, with differences in race, religion, class, gender and sexual orientation.
We want to actively encourage those voices in those communities that don’t get heard as often.
Find Out More
Learn more about how we create and plan our projects using the Story Of Change framework, and to read our current Business Plan, visit Our Work.