Co-producing legacy:What is the role of artists within Connected Communities projects?

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Education

Abstract

The Connected Communities (CC) programme involved artists in many ways, as facilitators, as mechanisms for community engagement, as poets, film makers, painters, to deliver workshops and crafts sessions and also as researchers. However, their contribution to the co-production of knowledge with community partners is insufficiently understood. This project will consider the impact of artists on the Connected Communities projects in order to create a deeper understanding of the ways that artists stimulate particular kinds of change within these projects.
This will involve a review of all 250 projects, together with a literature review on arts practice and co-production, and then a more detailed focus on six projects that have used artists in innovative ways.
Three case studies have been selected building on existing and new relationships developed at the Edinburgh Summit in July 2013. The team have developed further actions to explore in more depth the way artists have worked with communities. The focus of the project is to consider the ways in which artists have changed and will change the way CC projects are conceptualised, developed and delivered and the extent to which arts practice supports co-production methodologies. This will then be delivered as an investment into long term AHRC CC strategy which can illuminate future research involving artists in projects that are co-produced with communities.
The form of the enquiry will be through the studio as process. The studio is a conceptual space where groups form and grow things which emerges from something we recognise as working already. It involves a group of people who operate beyond the structures of the university and recognises different types of expertise - all participants can emerge as 'experts'. It is adaptable and responsive to particular situations and is a space of action, process, and practice. It is not a physical space, a digital environment, or a structured set of meetings. It is at root an approach and not an institution. We will draw on the studio to co-produce an enquiry into the role of artists. We aim to illuminate the ways in which artists work in community contexts with a specific inquiry into how they contribute to change within communities and within the projects already funded.
Although we are focusing on artists, we see this focus as a way in to exploring the legacy of CC projects and their co-production methodologies more generally.
The project team will develop this enquiry in conversation with national policy makers in the field of cultural policy-making. The project team includes artists, A-N The Artists Information Company, Castlefield Gallery, community partners, artist researchers and academics from a variety of disciplines. The study will explore through reflection, action and a collaborative studio space the process of artists working with communities, which will result in a series of actions, papers and a report to go to AHRC Connected Communities programme. In the process of doing this, the team will also look more closely at the ethical framework surrounding artists' work in communities, drawing on the work of community partners. The project will also be disseminated and discussed with national body Arts Council England, who have offered support, and A-N Artists Information Company. The aim is to set up a space where the role of artists within CC becomes more fully understood, with a team that includes those already involved in CC projects, as well as new academics, artists and community partners.
Our outputs will include a shared blog, a joint article, an exhibition, a report to the Connected Communities programme plus four discussion papers and a book on studio spaces focusing on the legacy of Connected Communities as a programme.

Planned Impact

We have co-produced our impact plan statement with partners Castlefield Gallery and A-N Artists' Information Company. Both of these organisations have given us considerable help in crafting the proposal and will be key to the subsequent dissemination of our research. We will, for example, in conversation with A-N Artists Information Company, interact with the 18,000 artists who receive the newsletter. A-N can disseminate and publish a series of position papers, provocations and discussions through their digital links and we will also work with them closely as we work through the project. In addition, through our project partner, Castlefield Gallery, we will work with a wide group of artists who are currently engaged with that gallery, and, through a small bursary system, bring them into this project. We also have links, through artist Karen Smith, with the 'Cultural Intermediation: Connecting Communities in the Creative Urban Economy' project, and will be holding a seminar, in collaboration with this project, which will offer an opportunity to engage in critical debate and dialogue around artistic practice and communities particularly with regard to the role of artists in Connected Communities research. This will engage a much wider group who are working on the role of artists and creative practitioners in collaborative research projects, with 'communities' and in community and participatory action. Through A-N Artists Information Company, we will also engage with the Paul Hamlyn/AHRC-supported Artworks initiative: the Navigator Artworks consortium of A-N-n, Artquest, Engage, Foundation for Community Dance, National Association of Writers in Education and Sound Sense which supports the continuing professional development of artists working in participatory settings.
It is anticipated that this research will have impact in both academic and community contexts and will be valuable for researchers and artists alike. It will have a cross-disciplinary appeal, as it seeks to unite currently disparate assessments of the role of art and artists in community contexts across the Arts and Humanities. We will link through international partner James Oliver to the Centre for Cultural Partnerships at the University of Melbourne.
In addition to publications in academic journals, our project will be publicised firstly through a project Blog and Twitter feed which will be maintained by the RA's. This will track the emerging studio space and its form and will be a publically accessible forum for recording findings and generating debate. We will be disseminating our findings through a multi-platform output, all interrelated, including an exhibition at Castlefield Gallery which would be a symposium.
We will include within outputs multimodal and visual content to make our work accessible. Our model of impact is not that we disseminate out so much as learn from the communities we are working with, that is, in this project the 250 Connected Communities projects, the artists involved with them and the wider group of artists who work with communities across the UK and beyond. We see this project as one that both pilots a new way of working, the 'studio', but also makes our knowledge widely available as it emerges and provides a space to interrogate that knowledge within the process of doing the project. We would also aim to impact upon the AHRC Connected Communities programme, its commissioning processes and its understandings of the ways in which knowledge is constructed across University and Community contexts using the studio model of practice. We would also hope that the role of artists in the process of working with communities will be disseminated more widely across the CC programmes through the NCCPE and the CC Showcase events as well as in existing projects such as the large grants.

Publications


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Douglas A (2014) Why drawing, now? in Journal of Arts & Communities
Graham H (2015) When the workshop is working in Qualitative Research Journal
 
Title Drawing paper 
Description Drawing paper 8 is about drawing as Connecting. It was published b Jon Barraclough and Mike Carney, Liverpool, UK See drawing-paper.co.uk 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact The paper was distributed widely to all Connected Communities funders and partners. 
URL http://www.mikesstudio.co.uk/project/drawing-paper-8/
 
Title Film about the 'Castlegate Artists' Vibrancy Festival' 
Description This was a film that was put together to record the 'Artists' Vibrancy Festival at Castle House in Sheffield. It was commissioned by the AHRC as part of the AHRC's Connected Communities Festival. It was shown as a projection at the end of the festival, and was then given to the AHRC to put on their website. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact The film sparked discussion about the role of artists in the development of the vibrancy of the city. 
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wpPSenBOIM
 
Title Film about the role of artists in the Artists' Vibrancy Festival in Sheffield 
Description This film showed the projection of a number of different art works commissioned through the AHRC's Connected Communities funded 'Artists Vibrancy' Festival. About 50 people watched the film on the night, but it prompted further discussions about the role of artists in community led regeneration. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact The discussions from this activity led to a number of further research projects looking at the role of artists in the City of Sheffield, eg. 'Art: Independence and Interdependence: A Snapshot of the Visual Arts Scene in Sheffield' written by John Clark (2016). 
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eU0HLjjrjVA
 
Description We identified three different but interconnected modes of approach that external partners, including academics and communities took to collaborating with artists:

• New Object: Points at which collaboration, methodology or arts practice considerations point towards the creation or consideration of a new object of study. This often meant unsettling or disorientating standard academic practices. This could mean new emerging findings or lenses which came out of this collaboration.
• Conceptual: Artists being involved in the conceptualization of the project or research - this could involve writing the bid and constructing the theoretical or methodological lens for the project.
• Instrumental: 'Artists being used in a specific manner to deliver' - we do not necessarily see this as a negative quality, but rather the concept of artist as useful, delivering a shared goal, was one we encountered frequently.

The processes of integration and collaboration between academics and artists both involved a widening of outcomes as well as a diversity of outputs.
Exploitation Route The following organisations have found our findings useful:
1. Arts Council England have been briefed on our work through the dissemination day in Manchester and a short meeting at The Hepworth Wakefield in 2014.
2. A-N The Artists Information Company have featured the project on their blog.
3. Representatives from RCUK have been present at keynotes and briefing events.
4. We have used this lens to analyse data from an evaluation on the impact of artists on the University of Sheffield's civic engagement work.
Sectors Creative Economy,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
 
Description Our work is being used to inform an evaluation of the University of Sheffield's civic engagement policy.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural
 
Description AHRC Connected Communities Festival 2015
Amount £9,540 (GBP)
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 03/2015 
End 08/2015
 
Description Co-producing legacy: collaboration with an art gallery 
Organisation Castlefield Gallery
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The project involved a community co-investigator, artist, Steve Pool who was based at Castlefield Gallery. The gallery hosted this and is putting on a residency in January 2015.
Collaborator Contribution Castlefield gallery hosted the community co-investigator and offered support in terms of hosting the final event.
Impact n/a/ still active
Start Year 2014
 
Description Artists Vibrancy Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/castlegatefestival/castlehouse
 
Description Artists Working within Higher Education - a one day dissemination event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.a-n.co.uk/reviews/artists-working-within-higher-education
 
Description Blog post about the Artists' working in Higher Education dissemination day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.a-n.co.uk/blogs/hereford-college-of-arts-7/post/52400741
 
Description Blog post for the AHRC Connected Communities Leadership Fellows website 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Hard to tell as this was an online publication
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://connected-communities.org/index.php/community-co-investigators-a-blog-by-steve-pool/
 
Description Blog post on the experience of being a Community Co-Investigator on an AHRC funded project 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact This blog post came out a few days before the Research Fish submission deadline so impact has not been recorded. However, the reference to the post was retweeted several times.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.publicengagement.ac.uk/blog/community-co-investigators
 
Description Co-producing Legacy - talk at the Productive Margins Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Conference presentation: Are Words the Key? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact The presentation elicited discussion about the role of artists in Connected Communities projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Connected Communities - Artists legacy studio 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact There was interest in our project and further contacts were made for the future research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3xDn1Et0Cw&list=UU4oFqK01f4STG5UJ72JAbdw
 
Description Invited Workshop on 'How Can The Arts Benefit Literacy Development in Community Settings'? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.literacyresearchassociation.org/pdf/lra_ann15_onsiteprogram.pdf
 
Description Keynote: What do we do when we don't agree: Making divergent ways of knowing come alive in Connected Communities projects 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://connected-communities.org/index.php/news/soundings-findings-a-connected-communities-research...
 
Description Paper for Legacy Projects day on Relational Arts Practice, Birmingham 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact The paper helped articulate ideas. A book proposal is planned to go to McGill University Press on artists' work with educational contexts and creating the conditions for growth for this to happen.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Seminar on relational arts practice and collaborative ethnography Victoria University Melbourne 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Special issue planned for 2015 for the Journal of Qualitative Research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Seminar on relational arts practice, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Plans for further research activity including joint research grants.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Seminar presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact The event stimulated discussion about the role of artists in Connected Communities programmes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Visit to the 'Beyond Engagement' conference in Vancouver, 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.uvic.ca/cuvic2014/
 
Description Workshop for Educators in South Africa on 'Not Just an Object': Making Meaning of and from everyday objects in educational research 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://coh.ukzn.ac.za/Files/Media/Documents/Announcement%20Documents/International%20Research%20Symp...