In January 2016 MA Design Management and Cultures and MDes Service Design Innovation students from London College of Communication began work on a project with Arts Network Sutton (ANS), a local charity which supports artists and the arts in the London Borough of Sutton.

This co-design project was led by Dr Nicky Ryan, Acting Dean of the Design School, working with Omar Vulpinari, Course Leader MDes Service Design Innovation.

The aim of the project was for students to analyse ANS as an organisation and to research the needs of its various stakeholders including the Executive Team, Sutton Council, the local arts communities and potential audiences for the arts in the borough.

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Students visit the heritage and cultural sites of the area.

The students used the Double Diamond research method (Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver) to work closely with stakeholders to produce recommendations that would give ANS greater visibility and impact within the borough and support its engagement with diverse audiences.

There were 30 students involved in the project from countries across the globe, including the UK, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Greece, India, Thailand, China, Korea, Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela and the US.

ANS was therefore able to benefit from a diverse range of international perspectives on their work, while the students gained experience of working in suburbia, a very different setting to the global hub of London.

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On their field trip with members of the ANS executive group, students meet local historians, councillors, artists and shop owners.

Dr Nicky Ryan said: “The project gives students a chance to work on a challenging real-world brief – one which extends the College ethos of developing external partnerships for social engagement at the same time as enhancing students’ employability and enterprise skills.”

The students formally presented their ideas to the ANS Executive Team and invited guests in Sutton on 8 March. Proposals included ‘Pop Up Sutton’ events, youth mentoring and ambassador schemes, membership levels and rewards including the ‘Wonderbox’ and plans for a physical hub, the ‘ANS Nest’.

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Students present their proposals to the ANS Executive Team in March 2016.

Presentations were enthusiastically received by ANS and will help to inform ongoing discussions about the future of the organisation and its role within the cultural life of the borough.

Feedback from attendees //

“Your students were enthusiastic, industrious and a joy to work with, and more than amply provided us with just what we had hoped for: considerable insight into the issues we face and a lot of good ideas that we can develop and use.” Dick Bower, Former ANS Chair

“We were all buzzing in our discussion afterwards.” Doris Richards, ANS Secretary

“I just want to thank you and all the students for the exceptional work they presented to us last night. They obviously put a lot of work into their presentations and they came up with some exceptional ideas.” Alan Fitter, ANS Executive Member

“It was a delight to see how much effort and imagination the students put into the project. A*s all round and one for you too, Nicky.” David Tribe, ANS Executive Member

“Thank you and your students for their marvellous presentations last night. So much for us now to consider and so many bright ideas. Can we accommodate all of them? Probably not, but they all showed a great understanding of our issues and really nailed their points.” Steve Cook, local Councillor and ANS Executive Member

“Lots of food for thought. ANS was very much helped by the messages we received last night.” Heather Honour, Acting ANS Chair

Read more about MDes Service Design Innovation

Read more about MA Design Management and Cultures