Changing Lives and Places: Lessons from the Cultural Pathfinders

Department for Culture, Media and Sport,
21 September 2007, England

The new-style Local Area Agreements (LAAs), to be introduced in 2008, will be the delivery vehicles for agreed community outcomes and will provide the focus of the new local authority performance management regime. Culture has to be positioned strategically for this transformation of the local government landscape.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Local Government Association's Cultural Pathfinders programme has shown how culture and sport can contribute powerfully to shared outcomes by engaging people in community activity and helping to develop a long-term vision of place that all delivery partners can support. The Pathfinders have been breaking down barriers to address the real needs of the community.
Twelve projects explored ways in which cultural services can impact on the priority needs of local communities, delivering shared outcomes and driving service improvements. Any authority wishing to deliver imaginative solutions for their communities should consider the ways in which culture could add value to their strategies. The Pathfinders have shown that placing culture at the strategic centre of local policy-making and delivery brings benefits to several services and can help authorities achieve their strategic objectives.
The De Montfort University evaluation suggests that cultural services should reach out to and join up with other services. The Pathfinders imaginatively combined culture with services such as social work and education. They demonstrated how to develop shared aims, mutual understanding and learning. The cultural planning approach adopted by the Pathfinders, encouraging new partnerships, can provide local authorities with scope for innovation in meeting community needs.
A publication that presents case studies is also available at the link below.