Make It Happen

2018 - ongoing

A flexible, participant-centred programme that provides training and support to encourage and enable people to design, manage and deliver their own activities with their own communities and with experts in the field.

Collage by Make It Happen participant with artist Tommy Anderson
A collage produced during a Make It Happen project

Make it Happen is a tried and tested action learning programme for community volunteers and staff working in grassroots organisations, where people who are involved gain the confidence, motivation and skills to co-produce events, exhibitions, festivals and projects in their own neighbourhood.

Volunteers of all ages, all abilities, whatever their circumstances can take part in Make it Happen thanks to the support of the National Lottery Community Fund and Historic England.

Our current focus is Sunderland, Gateshead and North Tyneside.

When people take part in Make it Happen have share how their health and wellbeing improves, new networks are developed along with fresh pathways to employability being created.

Knowledge and skills are nurtured and furthered during a development phase where people feel empowered to get things moving and change in and with their local community.

Residents are continually learning and doing during the programme. Over a series of workshops and independent work communities organise their own social action projects which are also funded and supported by Helix Arts.

Volunteers explore their community – looking at specific challenges, strengths, assets and the artforms that are likely to appeal. Sessions cover programme planning, management and coordination; artist recruitment and management; budget and controls; monitoring and evaluation; fundraising, sustainability and legacy.

Learning resources support the topic areas which can be used on future projects in the long term.

In partnership with Gateshead Council we have also delivered 4 years of dedicated artist development programmes within which includes ongoing coaching and mentoring. This has led to even great co-produced projects for communities across Gateshead.

Make it Happen has taken place online during Covid-19 and will continue in a blended and in person mode going forward.

“The magic started straight away because the creative producers made everyone believe they would be able to produce an arts event where they live. The team made sure everyone had a voice and were very clear about the structure. The modules on finance and the artist’s brief were a challenge but the creative producers are so comfortable with the process they shared with us…it all worked. It would never have entered my head that I would be able to make such a difference in my community. The positive change in my life is down to Make Art Happen and Helix Arts.”

Liz Keating, Make Art Happen Gateshead volunteer

Michael ‘Don’ Macdonald was a Make It Happen participant and took part in the Gateshead cohort. Having completed the course, Don took part in mentoring with director Cheryl Gavin. He also worked with young people from Heworth to create poems and short stories about the North East.

There work has since been compiled into a short booklet which you can take a look at here.

Michael 'Don' Macdonald- Gateshead MIH participant

Commission Make it Happen

Thanks to an award from the National Lottery Community Fund, we are able to offer Make it Happen in Gateshead and Sunderland with a reduced financial contribution from community partners. To receive an outline cost to deliver Make it Happen elsewhere please drop us a line.


Cheryl Gavin, Director

Phone: 07976 240570

Thanks to our Project Funders

This programme is funded by the  National Lottery Community Fund.