Community arts case studies

Sing it to My Face

Share Video

Jo Randerson and Thomas LaHood of Barbarian Productions talk about Sing it to My Face – an ‘intergenerational conversation through song’ created in collaboration with community musician, music educator, composer and performer, Julian Raphael

The River Talks

Share Video

Tamati Patuwai of Mad Ave talks about The River Talks project. Mad Ave run a wide range of community development projects using arts as a tool for engagement, community cohesion and responding to issues in their community.

OTHER [chinese]

Share Video

Theatre artist Alice Canton talks about OTHER [chinese], a documentary theatre performance based around Chinese-New Zealand identity with a cast of 100 people of Chinese descent. The show was named ‘Best Show’ by Metro magazine in 2017 and won the Excellence Award for Overall Production, as well as taking the Hackman Cup for Most Original Production at the Auckland Theatre Awards.

Jolt Dance

Share Video

Jolt Dance artistic director Lyn Cotton talks about the work they do in their community. Jolt leads an inspired and interconnected programme of classes, teacher training and performance under the vision ‘to celebrate the unique qualities of our dancers and to challenge perspectives about dance and disability’.

Bathgate Park School

Share Video

Artist and community artist Janet de Wagt talks about her residency at Bathgate Park School and reflects on 30+ years of community arts practice.


Share Video

Angela Green and Noma Sio-Faiumu talk about the Auckland Arts Festival Whānui project. Started in 2017, Whānui is a city-wide celebration of community art projects. In 2018 the theme was creative intergenerational conversations: where older and younger people interact, create, share and learn from each other. Five events took place across the Auckland region. Watch the 2018 Whānui wrap-up video

A Waka Odyssey

Share Video

Anna Marbrook, Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr and Kasia Pol talk about A Waka Odyssey – a large-scale, three-part project developed in collaboration with the New Zealand Festival in 2018 and involving over a thousand participants.

Other projects to inspire


Arts Access Awards
An annual celebration of work that individuals and organisations have done to improve access to the arts.

Auckland’s Community Circus. They build bridges and break down barriers – using circus as a medium to bring people together.

Canterbrainers Choir
An open access, therapeutic choir for people with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Stroke and Multiple Sclerosis.

Hobson Street Theatre Company
Based at the Auckland City Mission, this award-winning company has been making and presenting theatre shows that are an authentic reflection of the lived experience of the company's members, who all have lived experience of homelessness.

Katikati Festival of Cultures
A one-day event celebrating Katikati’s diverse cultures with over 27 countries represented.

Letting Space
An innovative, Wellington-based, organisation that seeks to transform the relationship between artists, the public and their environments to enable social change

Many Hats
A theatre company made up of adults with intellectual disability.

Nga Rangatahi Toa
A nationally and internationally recognised organisation working under a Creative Youth Development (CYD) model to support young people who have been excluded, or at risk of being excluded, from school.

Pacifica Mamas
The Pacifica Mamas (and Papas) are a collective of respected Pacific heritage artists and cultural leaders, brought together by a shared passion for the arts and culture of their Pacific homelands. They are based at the Pacifica Arts Centre in Auckland.

Project Prima Volta
Empowering young people from diverse backgrounds in Hawke's Bay communities with a year-long programme of coaching, mentoring and performance in opera. Watch a YouTube clip about Project Prima Volta (3 mins)

Sistema Aotearoa
An ensemble-based music programme for children based at the Otara Music Arts Centre

Te Kuwatawata
A Māori mental health clinic which uses arts and culture to support clients and whanau.

Tiffany Singh - 'Fly me up to where you are'
An artwork that operates as an educational model around empowerment and sharing your voice in predominantly decile 1 schools which are the 10% of schools with the highest proportion of students from low socio-economic communities.


A Restless Art
A collection of international participatory arts case studies pulled together by writer, researcher and consultant, François Matarasso.

Before I die (North America)
A global art project that invites people to reflect on their lives and share their personal aspirations in public.

One of Australia’s leading community arts companies.

ChopArt is a multidisciplinary arts organisation based in Atlantis, Georgia, USA, which supports homeless youth ages 10-18 to build community, cope and heal. Their programmes extend around the world.

Creative Growth Art Centre (USA)
The world’s first (established 1974) and largest non-profit centre dedicated to giving artists with disabilities the space to let their talents shine.

Creative People and Places (UK)
An action research project bringing together 25 arts programmes that are being run across the UK for communities that have historically had limited engagement with the arts. Watch this video to see the impacts of community arts

RAW Art Works
RAW is a Massachusetts arts organisation for young people that believe all kids should be seen and heard. Watch this video to hear from young people at RAW

Tinderbox Collective
A large, diverse collective of young people, musicians, artists, youth workers, community activists and volunteers that provides music education and opportunities for young people in north Edinburgh.

Suzanne Lacy - Shape of Water, Sounds of Hope [YouTube]
A cross-community project in Pennine Lancashire as part of the wider Creative People Places project, ‘Super Slow Way’.

Symphony of the Ursus Factory [YouTube trailer]
This gorgeous community arts project resulted in a film which is about to show at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Watch the making of Symphony of the Ursus Factory [Vimeo]

The Virtual Sing [YouTube]
180 secondary school students from Whangarei to Invercargill reached out from their bubbles during lockdown to join voices in a virtual choir project. Called The Virtual Sing, the project was run by the New Zealand Choral Federation, and the video shows bubbles of young choristers up and down the country lending their individual voices to an energetic waiata, A te tarakihi (The Cicada). 

The Arts of Creative Wellness
The Art of Creative Wellness podcast delves into art initiatives and projects which are improving New Zealander’s mental health and wellbeing. The five-part podcast series, by Antoinette Spicer, covers; creative spaces, art programmes in prisons, arts and accessible performances, art practices and programmes which respond to tragedy and, the funding model of arts initiatives in New Zealand. 

Village Arts and Humanities (USA)
A community-based programme in Philadelphia based on two initiatives: Learning through the Arts and Building through the Arts.

If you have more inspiring community arts projects to share email us