The Gathering

Season 2: “Remaking”

Episode 1: Accessing Those Who Can’t Access Online

For this episode, Alex O’Toole is joined by Tina Redford, Artistic Director at LeftCoast, an Arts Council England Creative People and Places Project in Blackpool and Wyre, and Paul Hartley, Director of Insitu, an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation based in Pendle in East Lancashire.

Both Tina and Paul work on a hyper local level, embedding arts and cultural deep within their respective communities. Their work is vital and enriching, helping to make both small shifts and profound changes, but the pandemic has given them no option but to rethink how they create and share cultural experiences with the people on their doorsteps and to consider more deeply how to access those who can’t access the internet.

In today’s episode we talk about how Covid 19 has impacted on their delivery and the communities they work with. We discuss what’s worked and what hasn’t, and debate what the future might hold for socially engaged arts.

Separate to Alex’s conversation with Paul and Tina, we also spoke with Julie Bell, Head of Libraries, Culture and Museums at Lancashire County Council about how Lancashire’s Library Service has been helping people to stay connected and creating during the lockdown. A copy of our interview with Julie is available here

Things we talk about in this episode:

  • The impact the lockdown and the ongoing restrictions in place has had on the work of socially engaged organisations, LeftCoast and Insitu.
  • The differences in response to engaging with the arts online during the pandemic between younger people and older people.
  • Approaches and activities to engage with the community during lockdown and beyond – what worked and what didn’t.
  • The things that have become most important to Lancashire communities under Corona Virus restrictions and how the arts have supported this.
  • Tools apps and technologies used and put in place by arts organisations to support continued engagement with communities.
  • How levels of community engagement and participation changed under Corona Virus restrictions.
  • How the arts can create visibility to engender collective responsibility for the common good.
  • How the work of LeftCoast and Insitu might change in the future and where the opportunities to develop creative practice look like at the moment,

**Please note, the conversation in this episode took place virtually and was recorded through Zoom and produced in our homes, which means that there are some issues with sound quality in some parts as connection dropped in and out, but we have worked to level this out.


Links mentioned in this episode:

Arts Lancashire



Corona Virus Restrictions In Lancashire

ONS Report on Internet Access 2020

Ofcom’s Online Nation Report 2020


Some Further Reading on Digital Inclusion in Lancashire

SuperFast Lancashire Delivering Digital Inclusion Appendix A