Voluntary Arts is participating in a two-year Erasmus+ funded project with partners from Austria, Denmark, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovenia. BRIDGING is a two-year project involving eight partner organisations from seven European countries, funded by the Erasmus+ programme.

The main project website is at www.bridgingsocialcapital.eu and you can find out more about the outputs below.

The aim of the BRIDGING project is to work together across the seven countries to bridge social capital and strengthen inclusion, cohesion and trust in our communities at a time when there is much division and misunderstanding.

The project will develop new participatory and co-creative cultural learning approaches that can be shared with practitioners across Europe. Educators - including managers, consultants, teachers, trainers, instructors and volunteers - will benefit from the results of the State of the Arts surveys, case study compendia, teaching materials and curricula generated and tested through the project.

The unique position of participatory culture, representing an enormous and diverse population across Europe, highlights the potential for these activities to have a huge impact on social integration across traditionally segregated groups in our societies.

Areas of Work

The project will involve collaborating with the arts, culture and heritage sectors, trainers and educators, along with volunteers and community projects looking in particular at bridging social divides in five contexts:

  • inter-social,
  • inter-generational,
  • inter-regional,
  • inter-cultural, and
  • inter-European.

The BRIDGING project will work in three main phases to ensure that the outcomes are beneficial to a wide audience and have a strong and lasting impact across Europe.

Extensive research across all participating countries will gather data and experiences of activity organisers, volunteers and participants which will guide our work.

The surveys and interviews will feed directly into the development of new curricula guidelines and training to be tested and evaluated through the partnership.

National events in each of the seven countries, digital tools and documentation will be shared and promoted strategically to maximise the impact and legacy of the work.

Key Outputs

Survey Report

This state of the art survey aims to provide an overview and to find good practice examples of co-creative and participatory activities in the sector of amateur arts, voluntary culture and heritage that aim at bridging social capital and promoting inclusion, cohesion and trust in our communities. The data was collected from October 2017 to January 2018 by five partners: LKCA (NL), KSD (DK), VA (UK), FAIE (PL), and JSKD (SI), and put together by EDUCULT (AT).

The applied research methodology combines quantitative data using questionnaires and qualitative data using qualitative interviews. The five national field surveys uses the same questionnaires and interview guides to ensure the processed data can be compared and presented in a multilateral context.

Training Course

In January 2019, Voluntary Arts hosted a free one-day training course looking at 'Co-Creative Activities Engaging Participants Across Socio-Economic Divides'. Guest Speakers included Stella Duffy (Fun Palaces), Marina Sacco (Battersea Arts Centre) and Mark Durkan (International Larp Organiser). The day explored ways of designing and delivering creative activities to engage with audiences and participants across different socio-economic demographics. Throughout the day, we looked at case studies and examined best practice approaches to planning, promotion and facilitation to ensure that barriers to participation are reduced.

Thematic Compendia

Five thematic compendia have been produced, looking at examples of best practice in each of the five areas of exploration and citing projects and initiatives from across the partner countries. Each compendia includes six case studies and reflects on their relation to the broader theme of the BRIDGING project as well as drawing out key findings and offering a practical workbook for others as a conclusion. Download each of the five reports below.


Curriculum Report

The Curricula Report is based first on the key findings of the State of the Arts Survey, secondly on the series of thematic compendia and thirdly on the series of local pilot courses. We hope the Curricula Report can provide new knowledge and give inspiration for other stakeholders to plan new training events for their staff, with the aim to strengthen new participatory culture and co-creation activities, where the learning context are changed not only from individual creativity to collective creativity, but to bridge people normally outside of each other’s social networks – not just bonding social capital between similar subgroups of individuals, but bridging former segregated social groups.

National conference

The research findings from the BRIDGING project were shared as part of the headline conference of the Age of Creativity Festival which took place at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester on 2 May 2019. The focus was on inter-generational activity with a range of provocations and discussions aimed at developing more ambitious thinking about how the future of inter-generational work could be improved. Each of the three main provocations is now being taken forward by key partners to continue developing ideas and potential projects. Presentations and details of the conference will be available to download shortly.