Project information

Art for All, Watts Gallery–Artists’ Village, 2017

The Big Issues project uses creativity and art to promote greater social cohesion and tackle issues of deprivation and social exclusion which are hidden by the general affluence in Surrey. The project targets those most in need including prisoners, excluded pupils and people with mental illness.

February 2017 - February 2018

Charity information: Watts Gallery Trust

Watts Gallery Trust logo
  • Need


    Surrey is thought of as a wealthy commuter county but this identity hides areas of real deprivation with child poverty, low incomes, poor mental health and homelessness. The county also houses a relatively high number of prisoners, including two women’s prisons. High percentages of both male and female prisoners suffer from anxiety and depression and having a creative outlet has a huge impact on their mental health, confidence and social skills.


    The Big Issues project will reach out to the community through practical art skills courses and activities tailored to suit the needs of different groups. The project provides participants with an opportunity to channel their creative energies and emotions in a positive way which increases confidence, self-esteem and social skills. The project offers beneficiaries an opportunity to develop new art and design skills, and workshops have also improved IT, communication, numeracy & literacy skills

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Provide hard to reach and disadvantaged groups of young people and adults with artist-led workshops


    » Run 94 artist-led workshops, based around the collection of Watts Gallery Trust, with community groups, young offenders and prisoners

    Gather and analyse feedback from participants to monitor the success of the project. Track outcomes for participants eg are they gaining qualifications or returning to education

    Aim 2

    Stage a selling exhibition showcasing the work and achievements of the participants.


    » Plan and execute the annual Big Issues exhibition in the Watts Contemporary Gallery at Watts Gallery - Artists' Village in February 2017.

    A strong and vibrant portfolio of work displayed by participants as part of the Big Issues exhibition.

  • Impact


    With more funding the project will create opportunities for a larger and more diverse audience to enjoy Watts Gallery Trust's collection and be inspired by the story of G F Watts and Mary Watts in Compton. Participants have themselves both acknowledged the difference these art workshops make in their lives and requested the continuation of the project - this project has been running since 2007 and the continuity the workshops give to the participants is a crucial element of this project


    The major risk is that we may not secure the required funding to ensure we can continue to subsidise the Big Issues project and to meet the needs of the groups. Other funders have been identified, researched and applications prepared in case we do not reach the target.

    Artists and workshop leaders are sometimes required to work in challenging environments and we have effective debriefing and safe-guarding policies in place.


    Funders of this project will receive a six monthly report detailing progress and activities. Latest developments will also be covered in the Watts Magazine, on the website and in person at meetings with Gallery supporters.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £50,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £28,000 Art workshops Hold 90 art workshops at the gallery and other venues in the community
      £10,000 Exhibition Stage the Big Issues public exhibition of a selection of art produced by the participants
      £3,000 Marketing Marketing and promotion
      £6,000 Project management Project management and mentoring
      £3,000 Project coordination Project coordination and administration

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Hazelhurst Trust £12,500 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The thriving Watts Gallery - Artists’ Village in Compton in the South East of England comprises the Watts Gallery, Old Compton Pottery Buildings (both Grade II-listed), Watts Studio and former residence Limnerslease, and the Watts Cemetery Chapel (Grade I-listed). The Artists’ Village attracts 40,000 visitors each year from across the UK and abroad and is the lasting legacy of George Frederic Watts, one of the most pre-eminent of Victorian artists, and his wife Mary Watts.


    The main recipients will be those with low incomes, in communities with high levels of deprivation or in difficult personal situations and prisoners at HMP Send, HMP/YOI Bronzefield and HMP/YOI Feltham. As well as young people, either in formal education in schools and colleges across the South East, or in groups with disabilities and special needs and those excluded from formal education.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    The Big Issues project is part of a wider Art for All Leaning Programme run by Watts Gallery - Artists’ Village which attracts over 15,000 participants a year. The innovative programme of activities reaches out to young people, families, schools, adults, university students and community groups and it is run by a highly experienced and committed Learning Team.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Kara Wescombe Blackman

    The Head of Learning will strategically manage the Project. Kara has over 15 years of experience working in art education.

    Clare Brunner

    Clare has 5 years’ experience of museum and gallery learning, and has coordinated the project since joining in April 2015.

    Ruth Williams

    The Community Youth Support Coordinator facilitates the activities with HMP/YOI Feltham, Youth Support Services, and STAR Project.