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Arts changing lives: Building a community of practice

Exploring how research can better support participatory creative arts programmes and act as a catalyst for social and community change. 

A collaboration between the School of Advanced Study and Chickenshed, an inclusive theatre company based in Enfield, is seeking to establish a community of practice based on knowledge exchange between arts and humanities researchers and community arts organisations. 

The collaboration will explore how research can better support and integrate with participatory creative arts programmes and act as a catalyst for social and community change. 

Project approach 

The team have run a series of exploratory events aimed at strengthening understanding between the research and creative communities and exploring the scope for collaboration. 

These events have involved thinking about what research is and how it might relate to community arts practice, and considering how evaluation might be made to work in ways more attuned to the values and ethos of participatory research and practice. 

Other areas of exploration include: 

  • How to develop appropriate and ethical strategies for articulating the impact of participatory arts projects, especially those working with children and vulnerable groups 
  • The different incentive structures and reporting requirements of universities and the charity sector 
  • What research is and how community arts organizations might frame their activities as research projects with defined research questions 
  • How the research funding landscape works, compared with arts funding. 

Impact & Engagement 

The exploratory events have engaged a wide variety of stakeholders from across the arts, charity and university research sectors in the UK.  

A digital scribe was commissioned to create a graphic that reflected the key themes and considerations of the discussions. This will provide an enduring resource that practitioners and researchers can refer to going forward. 

The legacies of this project will be improved understanding between the creative practice and arts humanities research sectors. 

Graphic showing Reshaping research and Evaluation for Participatory Arts

Further information 

The collaboration is led by Professor Katherine Harloe, Director of the Institute of Classical Studies, in collaboration with Louise Perry and Dave Carey from Chickenshed.  

Find out more about Chickenshed