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APE - Arts Participation for Employability

Partnership information


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Whilst employment rates for the West Midlands stand at only just under the national average (74.2% in full time employment, Working Brief, Jan 2006), certain local groups find that certain factors act as significant barriers to finding and sustaining meaningful employment. These factors include:

  • level of education
  • physical or mental ability
  • ethnicity
  • misuse of substances
  • homeless status
  • history of offending

As a result, participation rates for people within these target groups are significantly lower than average. The UK ArtsPEP Development Partnership has identified that existing employment provision in the area is insufficiently flexible to tackle these barriers and take account of the wishes of the individual. The basic premise of this project is that participative arts like drama offer an effective tool for the development of a range of social skills such as communication, creative thinking, self-expression, problem solving teamwork and confidence. Theatre is also a useful communication tool for conveying messages powerfully and effectively helping to raise a voice within the public domain.


Arts Participation for Employability (ArtsPEP) uses participative arts as a methodology for developing a range of tailor-made training and support opportunities which empower individuals with complex needs to access and remain in employment, and shape future training provision. The mission is to reduce discrimination and exclusion of the most disadvantaged groups by raising awareness amongst stakeholders.


To address these inequalities by using engagement with the participatory arts to help members of marginalized groups develop their creative thinking, self-expression, confidence and problem solving and increase their employability.

To use participative arts like drama as a methodology for developing a range of tailor made training and support opportunities to empower individuals with complex needs to assess and remain in employment, and to influence and shape future training provision.

Work with the labour market is also being developed to educate employers about these issues and equip them with the skills they need to effectively work with and sustain the involvement of members of the target groups.

It is envisaged that the fusion of these techniques with more traditional employability methods will empower disadvantaged individuals and facilitate a rewarding passage into today's labour market.

Target Groups

Ex-offenders, people with learning disabilities, workless households, young people at risk of exclusion, drug and alcohol users



Round 1 to Round 2

This Development Partnership was not involved in Round One

Transnational partnerships


Ian Henshaw, National Probation Service - Warwick, , Sandra Sutton, National Probation Service - Warwick,


Action 2: 31 October 2007
Action 3: 31 December 2007

Equal theme

Facilitating access


The Arts have been part of regeneration projects in Warwickshire for many years, but it has not been linked to employment and accreditation before. The partnership has built on the solid foundations of Arts participation to link to employability, working with partners who have experience of the Arts, of project management, of working with employers, of delivering training and education, and working in the community.


16-17-year-olds in danger of exclusion from school, Drug and alcohol misusers, Ex-offenders, Homeless people, People from disadvantaged areas (top 10% most deprived wards), People over 50, People with learning disabilities
Total beneficiaries: 525

Intended impact/ sustainability

The DP will impact by taking some of the activities of the project into key partner organisation strategies, where the activity has been shown to impact on service delivery. The vision is to prove that participation in thearts has a direct impact on the key performance indicators of key employment organisations.

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Warwickshire County Council and Coventry City council will embed Arts delivery as formal way of engaging individuals in employability training and education.


The Probation Service will embed within traditional service delivery Arts intervention approach to reduce the time needed to engage with initially and win the trust of ex-offenders. This will impact directly on the 7 Probation Service key performance indicators (pathways) regarding e.g. ex-offender engagement with training, job search and housing.


Warwickshire Adult Health and Community Services anticipate that through engagement with the arts learning disabled adults will be empowered to make decisions about their working lives and to develop the skills required to move away from the traditional service provision onto more inclusive work options and opportunity.


The work and research being undertaken by Exeter University to develop and apply an accreditation framework for employment, mentoring and art work will add validity to the interventions of the creative arts as a meaningful, challenging and exciting element of mainstream service delivery.


The DP will use its current political influence to link into the implementation of the European Employment Strategy 2001

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