Defining and Developing the UK’s First Arts and Culture Community Land Trust through Community-Led Research
Written by Emma Martin
This project supported the initial development phase of the UK’s first Community Land Trust (CLT), dedicated to arts and culture, based in Wirral Arts and Culture CLT (WACCLT), Wirral, Northwest England. CLTs are democratic, non-profit organisations that own and develop land for the benefit of the community. Typically, they provide affordable homes, green and civic spaces, and energy schemes. As the first CLT with a remit for community arts and culture, the WACCLT will have a nation-wide role in determining what an arts-based CLT means for the wider CLT scheme. The aim was to establish with and for the community the priorities of the WACCLT and consider the Trust’s role within the Wirral and its wider implications for the CLT scheme.
As part of the grant, I worked with trustees of the CLT to organise a members and stakeholders event at Future Yard in Birkenhead, Wirral. The event brought together artists, venue directors, community leaders, residents, and fellow CLT organisers to think through what a CLT dedicated to art and culture could mean for the Wirral, a region that has lower than national average art participation rates (32.5%). We were joined by two inspiring CLT and Community Interest Company leaders from Merseyside and the Wirral, Craig Pennington of Future Yard and Tom Murphy of Homebaked, to talk through their experiences of conceptualising, running, and sustaining community-led ventures. Their reflections shaped the small group and in-the-round discussions that flowed over the rest of the afternoon.
The event revolved around a series of questions that encouraged new conversations between people and agencies coming together for the first time. These questions addressed the CLT’s identity, its constituencies, the challenges and opportunities of building a CLT on the Wirral, and the need to broaden who gets to be included in a conversation like this. The vibrancy and creativity that infused the event was captured by More Than Minutes (see image below).
The minutes are intended to live beyond the event and will guide the CLT as it begins to decide what it is, where the need is, and who it is for. Deciding on that collective goal is the next step.
Project duration: April-July 2022
Project lead: Emma Martin (Dept. of AHCP, UoM)
External partner: WACCLT
Audiences involved: Cultural organisations, artists, community groups, CLTs
Funding source: SALC Social Responsibility Award