for Arts
& Culture
Combined Arts | Kent

People UnitedThe Best of Us

People United is an arts charity that works with communities to grow kindness and compassion, in turn increasing feelings of belonging and encouraging greater tolerance. They collaborate with artists, academics and activists to explore the potential of the arts making a difference in the world.

Their vision is of ‘a thriving, creative society where people are kind to themselves, each other & the world’.

The Best of Us was an arts and kindness project running from 2015 to 2017, developed with resident-led partnership Newington Big Local, to uncover stories (both past and present) that reflect the best human characteristics and strengths of the people in Newington, Ramsgate and beyond.

People United

People United © Ben Gold

People United

People United

Target Beneficiaries

The Best of Us worked with local residents, artists, schools and community groups in Newington and the local area.

The project aimed to:

  • increase social cohesion
  • increase social action
  • develop creative potential
  • challenge negative perceptions of the people and the community
  • develop good quality art experiences


The project worked with artist-in-residence Nova Marshall and the local community to explore stories, past and present, through arts and creative activities including film, photography, dance, visual installations, sound, song and urban art.

Key activities included:

  • Creative Champions: people of all ages who met weekly with the artist-in-residence to co-create artworks, visit exhibitions, run creative workshops and programme Best Fest
  • Best Fest: a free community arts festival in Newington
  • Artist commission: three internationally acclaimed artists were co-commissioned to explore the sensory experience of kindness through sound, sight, touch and smell, culminating in an interactive installation built with and for the community
  • Arts & Kindness week: artists collected pupils’ stories of kindness to create a song thanking the kind people in their lives

The Best of Us was a finalist in the 2016 Kent Creative Awards


The project successfully revealed the commonalities between people regardless of difference and enabled them to use the arts as a way to make a difference in their community through positive social action.



  • The community aimed to make Best Fest an annual event, programmed and organised by the Best Fest steering group with support from People United
  • Artist-in-residence Nova Marshall successfully applied to Arts Council England, with support from People United, to extend her work in Newington. As a result, the Creative Champions continue to meet and create artwork
  • Following Nova’s successful application to Arts Council England, she went on to successfully apply for three years of funding from Children in Need to provide a weekly youth group called Chill Club, which involves the Young Creative Champions
  • People United supported Newington Big Local to successfully apply for funding from Local Trust ‘Creative Civic Change’ which has employed an artist-in-residence to work with local families, some of whom were Creative Champions
  • People United’s 2017 report showing how the arts can create a more kind and caring society drew on the work that took place during the Best of Us project

Evaluation report 2007 to 2017


The Best of Us is making more people socialise, it’s bringing people’s inner sides out and putting us together and it’s making something big for our community

Samantha, Creative Champion


Newington Big Local, Big Lottery Fund, Local Trust, Arts Council England, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, John Ellerman Foundation, Comic Relief, Blakemore Foundation, The Roger de Haan Charitable Trust, East Kent Housing, Ramsgate Town Council, Orbit Group, ART31, Southern Housing Group, Trusthouse Charitable Foundation, Kent County Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, Kent Community Foundation.