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Music Challenge Fund: Creative Directions

Project evaluations

An evaluation report of Creative Directions, a participatory music project aimed at improving wellbeing.

Creative Directions was one of the four Music Challenge Fund projects funded by Spirit of 2012. It was delivered by arts participatory charity darts in Doncaster between 2019-2022.

The evaluation was produced by the blended evaluation team from Arc Research and Consultancy Ltd and Sheffield Hallam University (SHU). The project was managed by Dr Sharon Tabberer of Arc and Pete Nelson of SHU. Additional specialist input was provided by Richard Martin (SHU) on ethnographies, and Tom Chrisp (Arc) on quantitative data analysis.


This evaluation summarises the impact of Creative Directions against its four initial objectives.

Outcome 1 – Improvements to wellbeing: There is good evidence from the diaries, ethnographies that those who experience mental health issues feel an increased sense of personal wellbeing. Participants talk about the impact on their mental health and how the sessions punctuate their week. The evaluation does not explore whether these changes lasted once the programme finished.

Outcome 2: There is some evidence of participants going onto other activities both within darts and other partners such as CAST. There are also reports of participants going onto run music making sessions for other organisations such as Sober Social. At Edlington it was reported that some original participants were now attending another session run by a local group at the same time. This is a positive outcome in terms of further engagement; however, it does underline the importance of continued recruitment.

Outcome 3 – improving perceptions of disability: Whilst there is evidence of project participants taking account of each other’s needs, including disabilities, and being included in sessions the evaluation did not otherwise find evidence of a change in perceptions of disabled people in the community, including how people see themselves.

Outcome 4 – health professionals gain a better understand of role of arts in improving wellbeing: Health professionals who have engaged with the project over the pandemic and beyond have good knowledge on how arts and health can impact. darts is now intending to use Doncaster’s reinvigorated Arts and Health Board to increase understanding beyond those professionals who took part in Creative Directions.

The evaluation also describes a number of unanticipated outcomes from the projects, for example:

  • increased connections at the organisational level in Mexborough including with the library and the local history club.
  • skills development of the freelance artists as they developed expertise in zoom sessions and other forms of engagement
  • research skills across the project with training by the external evaluation team in quantitative methodologies, qualitative methodologies, and ethnographies.
  • expertise in partnership working including the difficulties of co-production in a pandemic.


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