Posted 27th April 2017
On Wednesday 16 April 2017, a new report on the social impact of Watts Gallery Trust was published. Art for All: Inspiring, Learning and Transforming at Watts Gallery – Artists' Village, written by Dr Helen Bowcock, cofounder of The Hazelhurst Trust and High Sheriff of Surrey from 2013-14, identifies the many ways this arts institution contributes social value to the communities it serves and demonstrates the Trust's commitment to delivering Art for All.
The report highlights the Trusts' success in engaging school pupils to improve educational outcomes including literacy; to deliver skills and trainings through apprenticeships and volunteering; to building confidence, motivation and skills amongst social excluded and vulnerable groups and to contributing to the education of women prisoners and young offenders through the Big Issues Programme.
Dr Helen Bowcock says, 'The staff at Watt's Gallery – Artists' Village work hard to engage with other charities, with schools and local authorities to reach people who may benefit from the transformative capacity of art and who may otherwise miss out on participation in the arts. Surrey is a county of contrasts and there are many people living in challenging circumstances who greatly benefit from the Big Issues Programme.'
Perdita Hunt OBE DL, Director of Watts Gallery Trust, says, 'Watts Gallery's founders — the great Victorian artist George Frederic Watts (1817 – 1904) and his wife, the designer Mary Watts (1849 – 1938), — believed in Art for All; that art should be available to all and that, through art, there could be social change. This legacy is the beating heart of Watts Gallery Trust today. Our founders' belief in the transformative power of art is the guiding principle for our Learning Programme which, as this report shows, is changing lives.'
This report follows research undertaken in the 2016 Economic Impact Report, which revealed that Watts Gallery – Artists' Village significantly boosts the local economy, contributing over £7.7 million and supporting 124 full-time equivalent jobs in 2015.
Sir Peter Bazalgette, who has written a foreword for the report, says, 'During my tenure [chairing Arts Council England], the arts sector did an excellent job of capturing all the benefits of investing in arts and culture, so it was better understood by government, trusts and private donors. We now talk about “the holistic case for investment": the intrinsic, such as insight and empathy; the social, evidenced every day in prisons and hospitals; the educational (of course) and also the economic, particularly in relation to our important creative industries. The stimulating thing about this report by Helen Bowcock is that it will give you inspiring examples of all the above, delivered by just one institution.'
Helen Bowcock concludes, 'Watts Gallery – Artists' Village delivers cultural, economic and social value. In addition to highlighting the social value created by WGAV, this report is a case study of philanthropy. It shows the enormous benefit of the legacy of G F and Mary Watts and, more recently, the generosity of donors who supported the restoration of the Artist's Village and who fund the Big Issues Programme.'
The full report can be read below.