The Creative Voucher scheme enabled small and medium sized businesses to partner with an arts & humanities-based researcher from one of Creativeworks London’s partner institutions. This section shows all of the projects that we have supported. More information about the scheme can be found here.

Creative Voucher Scheme

Only Connect and Institute of Education

SME Partner

Mat Ilic, Only Connect

Academic Partner

Angela Christopher, Institute of Education

Project Title

Only Connect Arts Research Project

Project Description

Arts-based Only Connect facilitates activity for ex-offenders, to reduce offending behaviour using the arts as a catalyst to encourage change.  It provides activities and works with education and community organisations as well as its own centre where ex-offenders and those at risk of offending attend.  The arts is a small but powerful aspect of provision which as a result of this research can inform and open dialogue within the criminal justice sector and other organisations providing similar activity for this client group that requires a unique set of skills in order to engage and enable change.

The six-month long project, in collaboration with a researcher from the Institute of Education, sought to demonstrate the value of the arts in causing people to cease and refrain from offending, a process known as ‘desistance’.

The research used a mixed methods approach involving interviews, ethnography, observation of workshops and surveys.  This enabled a rich source of information for answering the research questions. The project faced some challenges due to issues with member engagement on the project – evaluation take up was low and less data was collected than was originally hoped. Issues regarding self-reporting arose, given that the membership thoughts can be in flux on a daily basis, the need for an ethnographical approach to reporting was clear. Though the participating members were all engaging with Only Connect through creative projects, many of the participants reflected on the ‘community’ ideals of the charity, remarking that it felt ‘like family’.

The resulting report has provided effective insight into Only Connect’s work and provided a basis for the development of future creative evaluation projects. For Only Connect the insight of an experienced researcher was helpful in providing impartial reflections and stimulated engaging conversations into the role of members/clients in their business and project planning activity.


Queen Mary - University of London
Arts & Humanities Research Council
European Union
London Fusion

Creativeworks London is one of four Knowledge Exchange Hubs for the Creative Economy funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to develop strategic partnerships with creative businesses and cultural organisations, to strengthen and diversify their collaborative research activities and increase the number of arts and humanities researchers actively engaged in research-based knowledge exchange.