How can we better understand ‘Everyday Creativity’ and can it play a role in reducing inequalities in local communities?

For over 30 years Creative Lives has championed community and volunteer-led creative activity. Our role is to improve opportunities for everyone to be creative - a bold ambition! Creative Lives is specifically interested in supporting opportunities for people to be actively creative; taking part in music making, photography, singing in a band, making clothes, joining a dance group etc. And whilst we recognise a lot of this activity happens alone in the home, as people knit in front of the TV or make music on their laptops for example, Creative Lives is particularly passionate about celebrating people expressing themselves creatively with others. We recognise and champion the additional benefits this can bring to both individuals and communities. This activity might previously have been referred to as the amateur arts sector, but is perhaps beginning to shake this (not always helpful) description.

Creative Lives’ work spans from carrying out national and local advocacy work, through to celebrating the activities of creative groups via our annual Creative Lives Awards. Creative Lives has an ongoing partnership with BBC Local Radio, Creative Lives On Air, spotlighting local creativity through innovative broadcasting. Creative Lives provide support to groups through our online Creative Network sessions on a range of themes. Pertinently, we have recently developed Creative Citizens, our consultancy package aimed at supporting Local Authorities to understand their grassroots networks and the role active creative participation (or Everyday Creativity) can play in supporting health, wellbeing, and community outcomes.

Everyday Creativity has gained currency over the last decade, in part due to the work of organisations such as Creative Lives and Fun Palaces, and specifically the 64 Million Artists’ Everyday Creativity[1] report (commissioned by Arts Council England in 2016). This report advocates the role Everyday Creativity can play in democratising culture and supporting the notion that everyone has the right and ability to express themselves creatively. The report seeks to level the playing field between so-called amateur and professional art and artists.

More recently (2022) the University of Brighton set up The Everyday Creativity Research Network funded by the AHRC. Their website states that: “Creativity is often, in general usage, associated with creative people and ‘elite’ cultural activities within, for example the visual arts, music and theatre. By contrast, ‘everyday creativity’ recognises originality and purpose in a wide range of practices in people’s daily lives. {..}Everyday creativity thus encompasses such activities as joke-telling, cooking, ‘dressing’ the home, gardening, podcasting and citizen science; activities often removed from established hierarchies, economic models and notions of excellence’

Traditional participatory arts activity (which derives from radical art movements in the 1970’s), delivered by many well established community arts organisations across the country, has always engaged with and advocated for this broader definition and its importance. Creative practitioner and writer François Matarasso states: ‘Shaping your own cultural identity – and having it recognised by others – is central to human dignity and growth. If people can’t represent themselves culturally how can they do so in any other way, including politically? If people are only imagined and portrayed by others, how can they be full, free and equal citizens?’

Understanding the data available on Everyday Creativity

The Active Lives survey (which asks about healthy lifestyles and leisure, recreational, and cultural activities, conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of government agencies including Sport England, Arts Council England, and Public Health England) found that in 2017, 37% of the UK population engaged in some form of creative activity, such as singing, dancing, writing, craft etc. More recent evidence from the Audience Agency’s Participation Monitor[2] specifically exploring Everyday Creativity (2022) suggests the figure is higher, with 45% of the population engaging in some kind of creative activity. This figure increases to 86% if activities such as cooking, gardening, fashion, and creative gaming are included.

How does Everyday Creativity link to the current Levelling Up agenda?

The January 2022 Select Committee for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) report Reimagining where we live: cultural placemaking and the levelling up agenda sought to understand the links between creative engagement, place, and socioeconomic factors, making important recommendations: “One overall ambition for Levelling Up through culture should be that every region can boast world class institutions alongside a local, accessible grassroots cultural ecosystem”. Creative People and Places, the Arts Council England’s flagship programme aimed at increasing cultural activity in areas of high deprivation, has been running for over 10 years and seeks to broaden creative participation. Is there something unique about the role of Everyday Creativity vs traditionally publicly funded arts and culture that needs to be further explored? The 2017 King’s College London report Towards cultural democracy: promoting cultural capabilities for everyone concludes:

“Recognising the full diversity of cultural creativity in society – and its ecological nature – is an essential step in addressing an intractable problem of democratic legitimacy facing cultural policy and practice: that only a small proportion of the UK population makes regular use of publicly funded cultural organisations and activities. Our findings establish the foundations for a new approach to cultural policy and practice in the UK that builds on the riches of the funded sector, in combination with the creative industries and everyday creativity, to promote the opportunity for everyone not only to see and hear wonderful things, but also to co-create versions of culture. This is cultural democracy.”

Our current activity - Creative Citizens and other research

Creative Lives is currently working in a number of government defined levelling up places to map creative engagement, groups, and activity to better understand what we mean by Everyday Creativity, what type of activity is going on, and how it is different in different places. We are also distributing grants for grassroots creative activity via the government funded Know Your Neighbourhood scheme, which aims to reduce loneliness in places with high levels of deprivation. Round two of the scheme is currently open, and you can learn more or apply for funding here: Know Your Neighbourhood | Creative Lives ( We very much hope this hyper local approach enables us to better understand the role of Everyday Creativity and its potential impact.

Research into Everyday Creativity

There is a huge amount of research into the role of creativity in supporting education[3], health[4], criminal justice[5], and its role in democracy[6] and place making, but there is still more to do, especially as the definition of what creativity means broadens and the demand to evidence impact increases. The Our Creative Talent - the voluntary and amateur arts in England report was commissioned to explore the ‘amateur’ sector in 2008 (now perhaps better understood as Everyday Creativity) offers a useful guide to understanding this field. There is also a very welcome move to boost the Participation Survey to be able to look at Local Authority level data more accurately.

There is lots of important research and knowledge exchange currently underway in the area, too many examples to list here, but there are also many questions still to explore. How does Everyday Creativity link and support the burgeoning Creative Health sector? What are the links and distinctions between Everyday Creativity and the more traditional models of community arts and co-creation? What contribution can Everyday Creativity make to the debate about diversity and inclusion? And how does the research into the civic role of the arts support and challenge this definition of Everyday Creativity? There is an opportunity here for the research community to come together to answer these questions and more to understand the role of Everyday Creativity further. Creative Lives would welcome the opportunity to work with researchers in higher education and elsewhere whose current interests are relevant to some of the issues I’ve raised in this blog or indeed other questions related to Everyday Creativity. If you would like to discuss any of this further do contact me at To find out more about Creative Lives visit: Creative Lives (

Image: A recent project in Northern Ireland, 'My Creative Life'. Image credit: Bernie McAllister


[1] Everyday Creativity.pdf | DocDroid

[2] Everyday Creativity | The Audience Agency

[3] Evidence – Cultural Learning Alliance

[4] DCMS_report_April_2020_finalx__1_.pdf (

[5] Research – National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (

[6] Towards Cultural Democracy | Creative Lives (