Building a picture of Britain in 2020 and 2021

Here and Now was a national and local celebration of culture within communities. 40 new projects took place in and around 40 arts centres across the country between 2020 and 2021, led by artists and co-created with local people. Each project told the story of the place and the people. 

Here And Now examined communities’ hopes and dreams, aspirations and fears. Many participating venues looked at the role of the arts centre in a community, as a hub to meet, as a space for expression, as an arena for discussion, reflection and action. The project showed the impact of the National Lottery on community life, culture and creativity and celebrated their 25th birthday.

Artworks were as wide-ranging as an exploration of lullabies which span cultures and generations to a sonic artwork bringing the voices of the community into the heart of the art centre. Here and Now was a hugely diverse project that established a new democratic template for arts commissioning, moving away from a top-down approach and towards a level-playing field, ensuring everyone can feel involved in creativity and culture.

The Brief

The initial creative framework for artists and arts centres was created during a week-long residency in 2019. The below list of diverse and renowned artists, who represent varied artforms and communities, developed a brief for the programme. 

Brigitte Aphrodite – poet, musician, writer and theatre-maker
Dawinder Bansal – producer and artist
ESKA – musician
Fabric Lenny – digital and visual artist
Freddie Opoku-Addaie – dance artist
Victoria Pratt – art and technology creative
Debris Stevenson – poet and writer
Chris Thorpe – writer and theatre-maker
Vici Wreford-Sinnot – disabled theatre writer and director

Recognising the power imbalance in the traditional commissioning process, the Here and Now brief begun a process of handing over power and challenging centres, artists and audiences to try something new.

The Venues

The 40 arts centres that took part in Here and Now were spread across cities, towns and the countryside – homes to very different communities, but all with a genuine connection to people and place. 

From South Shields to Poole, Liverpool to Colchester, and lots more in between.  Venues were recruited through Future Arts Centres, a network led by and committed to championing the unique importance of arts centres at a local, regional and national level.

The Artists

​38 artists, 16 organisations and 453 co-creators worked on Here and Now nationwide – theatre-makers, musicians, visual artists, film-makers, circus artists, dancers, and more! Each of these people or organisations was rooted in their local area and had a relationship with their arts centre and/or community.

Here and Now was the most representative large scale art project ever seen in England. 45% of projects were led by artists identifying as working class, 28% of projects were led by artists from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, and 17% of projects were led by disabled artists.

The Communities

​Everything that resulted from the project came from within the communities who shaped them and from people and places to whom everyone can relate. You may know someone who was involved as a co-creator, participant or artist. You may have heard about it from someone you know and trust. You may have experienced a unique local event. From writing the brief, to installing the final artworks the Here and Now projects, which took place across England, were led by local communities and people. 

Here and Now is led by Future Arts Centres and supported by Arts Council England, marking the National Lottery’s 25th birthday.