Open Doors To Creativity: Pub is The Hub supporting initiative to encourage pubs to welcome creativity

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Pub is The Hub is supporting a new national initiative from Creative Lives, an organisation that champions voluntary-led creative activity, to encourage publicans to welcome creative activities into their pubs.

The ‘Pubs Welcoming Creativity’ campaign, which is also being championed by CAMRA, aims to encourage publicans across England to open their doors to regularly host a variety of creative activities run by local groups – anything from knitting circles, craft and painting groups to ukulele or folk groups. 

Free toolkit of resources

A toolkit of free resources to help inspire publicans to get started, and the types of things creative groups will need access to, is available from Creative Lives here:  Pubs Welcoming Creativity – Toolkit | Creative Lives (

The toolkit also includes downloadable advice sheets on areas such as risk assessments, event management, writing press releases, as well as text and pictures to use on social media, to help attract creative groups and to promote their activities.

It also includes a range of inspirational case studies of pubs across England already welcoming creative activity, such as The Stoke Canon Inn, near Exeter, Case Study: Stoke Cannon Inn – Devon on Vimeo, which has a craft cabin created with the support of Pub is The Hub.

Positive impact for pubs and creative groups

Robin Simpson, chief executive of Creative Lives, says: “We know that there are lots of creative activities that already happen in pubs, as a great way to make use of quieter nights and bring in new customers. We also know that there are many volunteer-led creative groups who have lost their regular meeting spaces during the pandemic, and will be looking for a warm space to gather, have a drink together and practise their craft as the evenings start to get darker.”

John Longden, chief executive of Pub is The Hub, adds: “Many pubs are already well set up with spaces for welcoming creative groups to host their activities. These groups are often in desperate need of a warm and welcoming environment in which to get together, and meeting in a pub offers an ideal solution.”

“We are proud to see a growing number of publicans and managers at pubs that Pub is The Hub has supported with projects to diversify their services, helping to host creative activities such as craft groups meeting in a community café or activities being hosted at a pub’s craft cabin.”

Crafty idea at community café

A weekly craft group being hosted at the community café at The Blue Bell at Stoke Ferry in Norfolk, is a great example of a group that is benefiting both the local creative community and this community-owned pub.

The pub opened its community café earlier this year, with the support of a Pub is The Hub Community Services Fund grant and expert advice of regional advisor Terry Stork, which now hosts a weekly craft café on a Wednesday morning, where people bring along craft projects they are working on, including knitting, crochet, felting, needlework and whittling or take part in monthly craft workshops.

Jim McNeill, an original founder member of Stoke Ferry Community Enterprise Limited, the Community Benefit Society that owns and runs the pub-cafe, says: “Around 15 to 20 people attend the group each week and it is still evolving. It is really benefiting The Blue Bell as attendees buy coffee and cakes and some stay on for lunch or come back to visit the pub at other times.”  

Hosting recommended to other pubs

He adds: “The pub advertises the group, but really it runs itself. It is a great thing for our village and the pub to be hosting and I would highly recommend to others to follow our lead.” 

Craft group coordinator Lorna Cootes says: “It is wonderful meeting at the pub, with a warm and friendly atmosphere on offer and people who have seen us doing activities in the café, now joining us weekly.”

She adds: “Hosting at the pub takes away all the extra organisation in running a club, such as sorting out refreshments, booking arrangements, and being responsible for the opening and closing a premises.”

Self-certify as a creative-friendly venue

 Publicans are also now being invited by Creative Lives to self-certify as a ‘creativity-friendly venue’ with posters and window badges available. Click here to self-certify as a creativity-friendly venue.

Creative Lives is also inviting creativity-friendly publicans to join its online ‘Pubs Welcoming Creativity’ peer support group. For more information on getting involved contact