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Announcing the Collaborate fund pilot



Musicians from the Manchester Camerata orchestra

Image: Musicians from the Manchester Camerata orchestra

The Centre for Cultural Value is supporting a new research partnership between Manchester Camerata and Dr Michelle Phillips, a senior lecturer for the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM).

Michelle’s research is based in the field of music psychology, and specifically focuses on perceptions of time and audience response to live and recorded music.

This is a pilot project which is part of Collaborate, a new fund that will support research collaborations between the cultural sector and academic researchers.

The Manchester Camerata and RNCM collaboration will explore how listeners respond neurologically, behaviourally, and physiologically to different music listening experiences. The project will also investigate whether responses differ between live and recorded performances, an increasing area of interest opened by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The project started in June 2021 and will run until May 2022 when results will be analysed and prepared for publication and sharing with the sector. The project will also test the application and support processes we are putting in place for the new Collaborate fund. Manchester Camerata and the Royal Northern College of Music are providing feedback that is helping to fine-tune the application and project development stages.

As part of the research project, Manchester Camerata musicians will perform and record music to be heard live and as a digital performance. Experiment participants will listen to extracts from a variety of styles of music, chosen as representative of a typical concert programme. The audience members selected will range from frequent attenders of Manchester Camerata concerts to non-frequent attenders and non-attenders.

The project will trial an innovative methodology where three different measures will be used to collect data on the audience’s response. The research will collect real-time response data through an EEG (electroencephalography) measure which monitors brain activity by identifying electrical signals produced by brain cells. The project will also collect behavioural data (conscious responses to the musical stimuli, such as level of enjoyment) and will measure galvanic skin conductance, which is used to give an indication of physiological response to the music, and specifically indicates level of arousal (for example, excitement, fear, or stress). Data will then be analysed to compare audiences’ responses to live and digital music experiences.

“This research collaboration will give us a better understanding of how music is experienced by different audiences in different environments. It’s exciting to be working with Michelle and to be able to draw on scientific methodologies. We hope the research will be of significant benefit for the orchestral sector, helping to inform digital programming.”

Rebecca Parnell, Creative Producer for the Manchester Camerata

“We’ve got this opportunity to pool our interests and our expertise in a way that doesn’t always happen, and I think exciting research outcomes can come from that. Collaboration and that kind of synergy is where some of the most fascinating insights into culture and people can come from”

Dr Michelle Phillips, Royal Northern College of Music

The Centre’s Collaborate fund will launch in October 2021. We are investing £200,000 to support up to 15 research collaborations between the cultural sector and academic researchers. There will be two rounds of funding with awards ranging from £5,000 to £20,000. Cultural practitioners and academic researchers will work together to explore the differences that arts, culture, heritage and screen make to people’s lives and/or society and will share their findings and learnings.

“Through Collaborate we will support innovative research collaborations that are driven by questions the cultural sector would like to explore. The selected projects will create new perspectives and add to our growing body of knowledge around cultural value. This pilot project is an exciting example, and brings together music performance, audience experiences of listening to music and scientific methodologies.”

Lisa Baxter, Partnerships Manager for Collaborate, Centre for Cultural Value

Information about how to apply to the Collaborate Fund will launch in September 2021. Expressions of interest for cultural sector applicants will be open between 18 October and 24 November.

Find out more about Collaborate.

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