Art is something we can all appreciate, whether it’s a thought-provoking sculpture, a beautiful piece of music, a tear-jerking performance, or even a crayon drawing brought home from school from your child. What speaks to one person may say nothing to the next and that’s the beauty of art. Art is something that can bring us together, can spark debate, can make us laugh, cry, love, live and see things that we might otherwise have never had the chance to witness.

Perhaps, then, this is why the arts and charity go so well together. This is the ideal partnership of emotions and sense – a blend that gives everyone the chance to feel something special.

There are some amazing arts charities in Kent, across the UK and around the world. Our list below is by no means definitive – there are just too many to fit in a few pages – but it highlights the fantastic variety of charities and the amazing things they do, so you can see exactly why they are so important in keeping our society happy, healthy and cared for.

In Kent…

People United

People United is an innovative arts charity and creative laboratory based in Canterbury. Founded in 2006, their work focuses on exploring how the arts can be used as a vehicle to increase kindness and empathy, and encourage people to be more community minded. They work in schools, youth groups and local communities to bring people together with artists and other partners from across Kent and beyond to explore how to increase kindness and ultimately make the world a better place.

They also work closely with their academic partners from the School of Psychology at the University of Kent to underpin everything they do with rigorous academic research. They are a small team of five passionate and creative individuals, all working to embody People United’s core values. The four main strands of their work are place-based projects, artist commissions, supporting others and research.

They have published two research reports; the first focused on why People United has chosen to explore the links between arts and kindness, and the second focused on what evidence they had gathered from 10 years of projects. This year will see the launch of their third research report, which will focus on the how: People United’s methodology. They plan to launch the report at a symposium in November.


Canterbury Arts Council

Canterbury Arts Council is a registered charity that receives funding from Canterbury City Council as well as various other sources. The aims behind this group include encouraging more public concerts, art exhibitions, plays and arts festivals across the Canterbury area.

Canterbury Arts Council offers grants to amateur and professional performers who feel they can make a difference.


Creative Folkestone
There is a lot to Creative Folkestone – a visionary arts charity dedicated to transforming Folkestone through collective creative activity. The charity manages five key projects:

Quarterhouse – the cultural hub of Folkestone, offering events of all sizes in shapes, from theatre to film, talks and comedy. If you’re in the area, pop in for a drink at The Clearing, the Quarterhouse’s immersive and sensory café bar.

Creative Quarter – an urban village of designers, filmmakers, musicians, web developers and artists. It is a wonderfully fun, vibrant area of Folkestone, created with the aim of allowing the public more access to the arts.

Folkestone Artworks – the UK’s largest urban exhibition of contemporary art. Sited outdoors and around the town and harbour, the current exhibition consists of 74 artworks by 46 artists including Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley, Yoko Ono, Mark Wallinger, Cornelia Parker and many more.

Folkestone Book Festival – the annual book festival attracting thousands of visitors and featuring many well-known authors and speakers. This year’s festival takes place in November, with the full programme being announced in July.

Folkestone Triennial – the flagship project of Creative Folkestone and the largest exhibition of newly commissioned work presented in the UK. The four Triennials have attracted more than 440,000 visitors, with around 20 major artworks being commissioned for each.


Nucleus Arts

Nucleus Arts was created to enhance people’s lives through art. Its mission is to inspire using affordable, innovative creativity and showcases, encouraging diversity and inclusivity. It has been promoting access to the arts for over 15 years throughout Kent, and specifically in the Medway area.


The Arts Society North Kent


The Arts Society North Kent has around 150 members and, like all other affiliates of The Arts Society, it aims to promote and preserve the fine arts. It is one of over 330 member societies of The Arts Society, spread throughout the UK and Europe. It is a leading arts charity whose aims include accessing the world of the arts through lectures, and encouraging arts projects for young people in schools. This preservation of our arts heritage is achieved through voluntary work at sites such as museums, stately homes, libraries and archives.


Music and Arts for the Shepway Community


Music and Arts for the Shepway Community is a charity set up to bring music and the arts to everybody in Shepway (Folkestone, Hythe, Dymchurch, New Romney, Lydd, Hawkinge, Densole, and all surrounding towns and villages). The charity believes in the social, physical and mental benefits that music and the arts can bring.

There are a number of choirs set up under the MASC banner (including Shepway Primary Singers and Shepway Voices), as well as special ‘fools art days’ which include a combination of art, drama, dance and singing.


Pie Factory Music


Music has been shown to be important in therapy and in our lives in general, and Pie Factory Music takes this idea and runs with it. The charity provides accessible music and related arts workshops for those up to the age of 25 throughout East Kent.

The charity believes that music is a way for people to express themselves and be as creative as possible. It offers self-confidence and inclusion, and helps those in what might be termed challenging situations such as being in care or those who have disabilities.


Around the UK…




Create was started in 2002 and the idea behind it – and everything it does – is to use art to empower lives. To create a fair, inclusive society is a lofty ambition, but one that Create is keen to see succeed.

Create includes a number of different programmes including Creative: Connection which sees disabled and non-disabled people coming together to make art; and Art: Space which allows your carers to have some time for themselves in creative endeavours.


Children and the Arts


By creating a more inclusive and accessible arts sector, Children and the Arts aims to harness the special creativity that young people have – the kind that really has no inhibitions – and use it to build confidence and show what it is like to do something good, and successful.

Children and the Arts works with arts venues all over the UK so that children in communities that might otherwise miss out on such opportunities are more able to be involved.


Impact Arts


The main aim of Impact Arts is really that; to make an impact, and to transform lives by using creativity and the arts. Based in Scotland and established in 1994, Impact Arts prides itself on being forward thinking, and always coming up with new ideas that surprise, challenge, and entertain as well as encourage artistic thoughts and expressions.

For Impact Arts, art is a tool that can be used for positive change in many different environments.


Creative Future


It’s hard for artists and writers to get a break sometimes, and even harder when they suffer from mental illness. Creative Future is there to help them get a good start, nurturing under-represented artists and writers to be able to develop more and more. Calling itself a ‘bridge from the margins to the mainstream’, Creative Future is about using innovative methods to offer new art to new audiences and trying to change the lives of the artists behind the work.


Young Urban Arts Foundation


The Young Urban Arts Foundation (YUAF) was started in 2009 with the aim of helping disadvantaged and vulnerable children. YUAF offers them a safe space to forget about any barriers or issues they might have experienced in the past and allows them to talk about their problems. They are, in essence, shown that they can be whatever and whoever they want to be.

YUAF sets up workshops and programmes that enable young people to develop their creative skills which boosts their self-esteem and confidence.


Arts for All


Arts for All is a charity that offers those who would otherwise not have the chance to enjoy the arts the opportunity not only to become more aware, but to get involved as well. There are structured, weekly art therapy sessions for those with special needs, as well as programmes for those from diverse cultures and backgrounds. The centre is in one of the most deprived areas of the UK, and offers hope to those who live there, giving them the chance and the tools to change their lives.


MakeBelieve Arts


The programmes developed by MakeBelieve Arts are designed to develop the creative, emotional, cognitive and holistic potential of children across the UK. This combination of theatre and education involves teachers, families and the children and young people themselves.

The programmes include Helicopter Stories which is designed for Foundation Stage to Key Stage 1 and First Theatre which is for older primary school children. Tours are produced annually, but there is also training which can be offered in creative literacy and creative mathematics.


National Youth Arts Trust


The National Youth Arts Trust offers bursaries for dance classes, drama school, music lessons, even recall auditions ensuring that those who might normally miss out on such excellent artistic opportunities are able to take part.

The charity has also set up youth theatres and drama projects in areas that are lacking in these facilities, as well as taking children to the theatre on specially organised trips – often for the very first time.


Equal Arts


Equal Arts is based in Gateshead, Newcastle, but works across the UK helping older people and those living with dementia to achieve a more productive, happier life through the arts. They offer creative and artistic opportunities to encourage wellbeing, and to encourage people to try something new in an effort to slow down the symptoms of dementia.

Their mantra is: memory may diminish but imagination remains.


Shape Arts


Shape Arts’ main founding principle is the idea that disabled people should have better access to arts and culture. It therefore provides opportunities for disabled artists as well as training cultural institutions across the country to better understand the needs of – and to be more open to – disabled people.


Arts 4 Dementia


Arts 4 Dementia is a UK charity, working with arts venues to provide training and develop arts programmes, empower and inspire people with early-stage dementia and carers through artistic stimulation, and help preserve fulfilling active life together, for longer at home. The Early-Stage Dementia Awareness Training for Arts Organisations empowers facilitators to deliver effective, person-centred workshops. They work with national agencies, cross-party parliamentary groups and academics to have arts integrated in NHS England’s Well Pathway for Dementia.

Use their website to find artistic events near you that will benefit those suffering from dementia. This will open up a world that might have been closed before.


Art for Care


Rise Art recognises just how daunting it can be for children to have to stay in hospital, whether for an extended period of time or a relatively short one. However, they also know that allowing those children to take part in artistic endeavours such as painting and drawing will help them to relax more and reduce their anxiety.

When someone places an order on their site for works of art, an art pack is also sent to one of many hospitals across the UK, offering sick children the chance to feel better and to be less worried about their hospital stay.




Artcore is a visual arts charity with a group of professional artists working within communities locally, nationally and internationally. They endeavour to operate as a cultural hub, fuelling active engagement for a diverse range of communities in Derby, East Midlands and beyond.

Artcore’s long-term objective is to use arts and crafts as a vehicle to strengthen community cohesion, educate, raise awareness and provide a platform for development. Through their work they are committed to bringing change into the lives of people of all ages, abilities, cultural and ethnic backgrounds through creative activities. Their focus is the provision of a contemporary, innovative and quality service through the four core areas: ‘art in education and learning’, ‘art in modern culture’, ‘art in health and well-being’ and ‘art in the community’.




Decibels was founded in 2005, and its aim then and now has been to promote art-based education and training for disabled children and young adults. Their vision is for everyone, no matter what disabilities they might have, to be included in all forms of art.


Café Art


For those who are homeless, it can be extremely difficult, perhaps even impossible, to get back on their feet, or to feel any sense of worthiness or accomplishment. This is where Café Art can help. Café Art’s aim is to connect those who are affected by homelessness in whatever way with the wider community, using their art as a bridge.

This social enterprise offers homeless and formerly homeless people the opportunity to create their own income stream through their art, and to be involved in running the project in their community. There is also an annual photography project and calendar.



East Street Arts


This contemporary arts organisation works all over the UK and EU. The idea is that it supports artists who are attempting to create something that will bring about change to everyday lives. There is a dedicated activities programme that offers personal development, plus the charity provides both permanent and temporary spaces to the creative community.




Engage supports art educators, organisations and artists to work with communities across the country, providing space to have dynamic, open exchanges – it means that everyone can have the opportunity to learn and benefit from the arts.

Engage was once known as the National Association for Gallery Education, and it now represents gallery and visual art education professionals in over 20 countries across the world.


Art Refuge UK


Art Refuge UK was established in 2006. The charity works through art and art therapy with people who have been displaced due to war, persecution and poverty.

There is an excellent team of artists and therapists who have the skills and experience to deliver culturally relevant, exciting, dynamic programmes. They work across the world, and within the UK, and can adapt their work to respond to current events.

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