Arts for All – Celebrating 10 years of Cambridge Community Arts

By Kate Jones

At CamCreatives this month Jane Rich from Cambridge Community Arts (CCA) was in conversation with Annie Taylor. Annie has been a CCA service user, volunteer and trustee. The perfect person to ask all the right questions!

This is the brief history of how Jane went from her first workshop with only 2 people attending to going on to help 2000+ people over a 10-year period.

Before CCA, Jane worked in a small music charity which supported adult mental health. The charity helped people to be their own creative selves and this idea changed Jane. She realised that it was the creative process that made the difference and this could be applied to many art forms  – not just music. And so the idea for Cambridge Community Arts was born.

The first workshop – puppet making – was held at the Howard Mallet Club. It was called ‘making friends’ to emphasise that it wasn’t just about the art but also the social side. Only two people came, but they had a brilliant time. The charity grew quickly from there. In the second year, Jane formed a partnership with Cambridge Regional College and joined the Social Enterprise East incubator at Allia.

It quickly became clear that there was a great need for the charity. The workshops and courses are changing lives. Inclusivity is a key factor – the courses are open to everyone but there is a priority for people with health challenges. It is respectful and empathetic – meeting all people as artists. And it empowers people to be their creative selves.

Crucially, the support doesn’t end after the course finishes. CCA help people to move on with their creativity – for example, giving people the confidence to become tutors, employed or self-employed.

The charity is not just life-changing, it’s life-saving.

What next for Jane? The board of trustees has given Jane the option to return in a couple of years. I asked Jane if she would find it hard to let go, but she is happy that CCA is not about her, it has its own legs and can continue its creative journey without her – which includes branching out into Fenland.

While considering her options, Jane will be focussing on her creative self and returning to painting.

Thank you for speaking with us and good luck with whatever you decide to do next!

We’ll be joined by Sarah Hardy, founder of the Edible Museum, on 19 March. View the details.

If you’d like to pitch us a talk or sponsor us get in touch with one of the CamCreatives team.