At Work: Partnerships - Compact in action - The Ark and Bracknell Day Services

Casper van Vark

The disability charity launched its own arts festival with the help of the local Compact.

The project

The Ark is a small charity in Bracknell Forest that uses the arts to work with people who have disabilities. Last year its chief executive, Andrea McCombie-Parker, decided to try to launch an arts festival with the aim of showing people with disabilities how much they could achieve.

The action

The Ark knew it could not launch the festival alone, so it spoke to Linda Webdell, a Compact implementation officer based at Bracknell Forest Voluntary Action (BFVA). Webdell is the first to hold the post since the Bracknell Forest Compact was written in 2002.

The Ark approached Webdell because she was the person to pull together other Compact signatories to make the arts festival viable. She agreed to help form a partnership between The Ark and Bracknell Day Services, which is run by the borough to provide support for people with mental and physical disabilities.

"The Ark is a very small charity and Bracknell Day Services is a statutory organisation with the skills to give external funders confidence that this project would work," says Webdell.

"Without the Compact, these two organisations wouldn't have been able to come together - but because they were both already aware of the Compact's aims, they were immediately singing from the same hymn sheet."

Had the Compact not been in place, Webdell's role wouldn't have existed and there wouldn't have been a framework under which The Ark could form an equal partnership with a much larger statutory body.

The outcome

The festival, ArtsPulse, ran for a week in July. About 200 people attended each day, taking part in arts projects and social events. The festival provided paid work for people with disabilities, with funding from sources including local business sponsorships. It has also led to the creation of a full-time post at The Ark for a community arts and disability development officer.

"Getting the festival off the ground fitted in with the aims of the Compact," says Webdell. "It was about expanding opportunities, opening up new doors, getting more contacts and finding more funding streams."

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