The purpose of the Rural Engagement Arts Programme (REAP) is to provide an integrated, cohesive approach to the needs of local rural communities while recognising some specific issues they face.

The primary theme of REAP is combatting isolation and loneliness and promoting social inclusion.

There are a number of ways to differentiate between loneliness and social isolation:

  • Loneliness can affect any age group; it is the subjective, unpleasant and distressing phenomenon stemming from a difference between an individual’s desired and achieved level of social relationships.
  • Social isolation is a forced isolation from normal social networks caused by loss of mobility or deteriorating health.
  • Rural communities have smaller and more dispersed populations, where isolation can be more acute than in towns and urban areas resulting in a negative impact on mental health and well-being. An acute example of this was the COVID pandemic 2020.

The impact that loneliness and social isolation can have on the physical, mental and social health of isolated older people is well documented. The Campaign to End Loneliness (opens in a new tab) points to research which shows that lacking social connections is as damaging to health as smoking. Lonely individuals are more likely to visit their GP, use more medication and have a higher incidence of falls. They are also more likely to enter residential or nursing care earlier.

Participating in the arts, and coming together as communities, can make a vital contribution to improving health and wellbeing, building confidence and integrating communities. The Arts Council has worked with local authority community development and arts officers to ensure that information on REAP is available and that this public funding is as widely distributed as possible.

Groups can apply for one-off projects or for a programme of events.  Projects do not have to be new – existing, successful programmes which meet the strategic themes of REAP, are also eligible for support.

You can apply for an award between ÂŁ500 and ÂŁ10,000 for a project.

Projects can last up to 1 year duration and can take place on any dates between 1 November 2024 and 31 October 2025.

Read more and apply here

Closing 21st August