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Collaborate fund – meet the new cohort



Three people stood at a table talking together. One wears an aprn. On the table there are plants in pots and materials for potting plants.

The Centre of Cultural Value has awarded Collaborate fund research grants to five new cultural sector and academic partnerships. These innovative collaborations involve a range of interdisciplinary expertise and will dig deeper into under-explored areas of cultural value.

Collaborate launched in October 2021 to support the Centre’s core aim of deepening understanding of the differences culture makes to people’s lives and communities. Collaborate projects are driven by the real-world questions of the cultural sector. They provide opportunities to test new methodologies, explore cultural practice and communicate cultural value more effectively.

The five new partnerships join those whose research is underway as part of the first round of Collaborate funding awarded in 2022. Read more about Collaborate cohort one projects.

This time Collaborate received 296 expressions of interest from cultural organisations and practitioners, showing a real appetite to underpin practice with robust research. Earlier this year, ten cultural sector projects were matched with an academic partner for further scoping before selecting the final five for funding.

The new projects explore diverse research areas, including neuroscience, civic activism, migrant communities, identity and how theatre can address societal challenges.

Liz Harrop, Manager at the Centre for Cultural Value, says:

This year’s projects are deeply connected to topics of vital interest to the cultural sector and reflect a range of creative, rigorous and socially engaged approaches to capture cultural value. These projects will draw out diverse perspectives providing new insights into the social, cultural, and personal value of cultural activities.

Read more about the five new projects below, and join our email list for regular updates about Collaborate and other work from the Centre for Cultural Value.

The second cohort of Collaborate projects:

Big Telly Theatre Company with a research team from Manchester School of Theatre, Manchester Metropolitan University and the Centre of Deliberative Research at the National Centre of Social Research

Granny Jackson’s Dead: Commemoration, Mourning, Performance and the Digital

Northern Ireland-based Big Telly Theatre Company have partnered with researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University and the National Centre of Social Research to explore how we can use immersive theatre to look afresh at “arts-led dialogue”.

Big Telly’s creative practitioners and their academic partners, digital artists and deliberative practitioners will explore how theatre enables us to consider the psychological and social effects of digitising memory and memorialisation.

The project will demonstrate theatre’s cultural value in generating robust, consensual evidence to address societal challenges and enable oversight of technology.

The South North CIC with Glenn Odom, Reader, School of Arts and Digital Industries, University of Roehampton 

Routing Diaspora Histories

This anti-racism-centred project from South North CIC – co-directed by Damali Ibreck and Vanessa Ansa – will explore how diasporic communities connect with history in their contemporary lived experiences and the histories of the countries and regions from which they, or their ancestors, departed.

Working with researcher Glenn Odom, the project will use historical references, maps, stories, folklore and memories connected to locations and communities positioned along local, regional and national pre-colonial Africa trading routes. The project aims to reposition notions of diasporic identity that might usually draw on slavery and (post)colonialism, trauma and resistance.

Research participants will interpret pre-colonial and personal histories actively and creatively through constructive, performative, cultural and storytelling activities, such as walks, talks, readings, workshops, writing, arts engagement and mobile phone filmmaking processes.

Fun Palaces with Katy Pilcher, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Aston University

Creative Voices, Activist Voices: Sensory Stories of Creative Communities

Can finding your creative voice unlock your civic activist voice? What might be the potential barriers or social inequalities preventing this from happening?

As a social justice movement, Fun Palaces centres communities as cultural producers. Together with sociologist Katy Pilcher, they will investigate whether communities who make creative and cultural experiences for themselves also create ways to have their needs heard.

The project will highlight how communities come together across social divides to share knowledge and create cultural value while also exploring the radical potential that cultural participation might unlock wider civic activism.

Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum with Aisling O’Boyle, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Language Education Research, Queen’s University Belfast

Yours, Mine and Ours: A shared authority project with local migrant communities

Through this project, Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum and Aisling O’Boyle aim to establish sustainable collaborative relationships with local migrant communities exploring cultural inclusion, belonging and the value of museum learning.

Local migrant communities will co-design the project via workshops, capacity-building sessions, craft sessions and an end-of-project public engagement event. Through a shared authority approach, the project will facilitate the creation of a textile piece(s) entitled “Our Stories” for the museum’s permanent collection.

Research findings will support future relationship-building with migrant communities and develop the museum’s collections to reflect contemporary local demographics. There is also the hope that the project outcomes will inspire wider practice and have significance across the Northern Ireland museum sector. 

Press Play Films with Sophie Forster, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, University of Sussex

Moving Minds: A cultural and neuroscientific perspective on the art of engaging autistic children

Having witnessed successful outcomes for autistic children participating in its stop-motion animation workshops, Press Play Films wants to investigate why this is and how cultural sector practitioners can design effective, engaging extra-curricular activities for autistic and neurotypical children.

Working in partnership with neuroscientist Sophie Forster, this project takes a mixed-method approach using electroencephalography (EEG) readings of children’s brain waves as they produce animations and the content of the animations themselves. The participant-led animation films produced may also incorporate the powerful images of EEG waves in novel, artistic ways.

The scientific data sets collated through this research will potentially serve as pilot data for the future extension of the project.

Stay up-to-date with all the Collaborate projects by signing up to our newsletter.

Image credit: Bromley By Bow, Fun Palaces, October 2019 (© Roswitha Chesher)

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