How can creatives and experts in social impact work together to respond to some of society’s most pressing problems? Can creativity contribute to social change?
These are questions we explored through Future Makers for Change (FMFC), a cross-government initiative to support projects that complement government efforts in areas including family violence, gender equality, social cohesion and mental health.
$2.6 million supported nine projects that explored the role creativity can play in driving to social change.
Future Makers for Change was led by Creative Victoria as an action of the Victorian Government’s first creative industries strategy Creative State 2016-2020.
Who did we work with?
Victorian Government investment in FMFC was based on a strong and growing body of statistically significant findings that arts can improve social cohesion and mental wellbeing1. FMFC is an example of how different areas of government can work together to unlock resources and combine expertise to support this work.
Government funding partners were:
- Creative Victoria
- VicHealth – the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation
- Regional Development Victoria
- Office for Prevention of Family Violence and Multicultural and Social Cohesion - both divisions of the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH)
- FMFC teams raised a further $200,000 cash and $150,000 in-kind support
Creative and social impact partners
With this funding Victorian artists and creatives joined forces with social impact experts to respond to some of the state’s pressing social issues.
Youth mental wellbeing
- Digital studio Liminal VR partnered with Wellbeing in Schools Australia on a VR Wellbeing platform exploring youth mental wellbeing
- Artist and designer Beci Orpin partnered with mental health charity, Smiling Mind, on a project called META supporting young people’s mental wellbeing through creativity
Attitudes towards Gender equality
- Curator Jane Scott partnered with the Royal Women’s Hospital Foundation on an exhibition project called Flesh After Fifty exploring gender equality and positive aging
- St Martins Youth Theatre partnered with Minus18, champions for LGBTQIA+ youth, on a project called Escape Velocity exploring young people’s mental wellbeing and gender quality.
- Arts and social change company Big hART partnered with two Frankston North schools on a project called Project O exploring gender equality and young people’s engagement in school
- First Peoples theatre company ILBIJERRI partnered with Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency on a theatre project called Scar Trees exploring family violence
- Next in Colour, a team of five African creative practitioners, partnered with Cohealth Arts Generator on an initiative exploring social justice and equity
- Castlemaine based arts organisation Punctum partnered with Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services on a project called the Kultur-All Makaan exploring social cohesion in regional Victoria
- Theatre-makers Asking for Trouble partnered with Clunes Neighbourhood House on project called Art Attack to create opportunities for young people living in Clunes to engage their creativity
View the projects
Each of the FMFC teams undertook a program evaluation to investigate their project’s contribution to a range of different social impact areas. Through this, they demonstrated evidence of short and medium-term impacts in areas including family violence, gender equality and positive ageing, social cohesion, regional opportunity and young people’s mental health. Examples of the evidence they collected are highlighted in these case studies.
The long-term effects of the FMFC interventions were outside the scope of these evaluations. Investing in longer-term evaluation as well as comparing interventions with control populations would help understand the benefits of future interventions over time.
Lessons learnt from FMFC
The evaluations also examined the processes employed by each project, including lessons about what works when using creative interventions for social impact.
1. For more information about therapeutic, clinical and environmental arts interventions, the benefits of the arts for educational outcomes, the benefits of arts for civic agency, civic engagement and community regeneration, please see Crossick, G. and P. Kaszynska (2016) Understanding the value of arts and culture: The AHRC Cultural Value Project, Wiltshire: Arts and Humanities Research Council.