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Why do collaborative research?

Why do collaborative research?

Explore the benefits of research collaborations between cultural practitioners and academics, with insights from those who took part in our Collaborate programme.


Manchester Camerata musicians performing at Manchester Cathedral. Photo: Alex Barnes

For cultural sector practitioners, working with an academic researcher opens up new ways of thinking about your practice and how to approach future work. It also helps develop research skills and networks.

For academics, there is the chance to carry out research in a different context and develop creative methodologies alongside a highly engaged partner.

Crafts Council and Glasgow Caledonian University (London): Living Lab with Legacy West Midlands. Photo by Gene Kavanagh

What are the benefits of collaborative research?

Research in partnership with academics helps cultural practitioners to:

  • better understand and articulate the value of their work;
  • explore questions that are meaningful to their practice and the audiences and communities they serve;
  • produce practical, actionable knowledge, inform planning and decision making and drive positive change;
  • understand and respond to emerging challenges;
  • use tangible evidence of the impact of their work to leverage more funding and build new partnerships;
  • develop new research skills.

Research in partnership with cultural sector practitioners helps academics to:

  • develop new connections and networks and bring different perspectives, experiences and voices into their work;
  • create strong impact activity, helping to meet the broader research aims of their institution;
  • ground their research in real-world challenges and generate deeper learning that can be brought back into teaching;
  • open up conversations in their institution about how research is conducted, who with and who it is for;
  • work with highly engaged research partners and their participants.

Collaborative research also offers benefits for policymakers and funders, providing evidence-based insights to help inform decision-making.

Quarantine, 12 Last Songs at Transform Festival. Photo by David Lindsay 

Insights from Collaborate partners

“You’re working on research questions that have an immediate relevance and impact outside the academic institution.”

Dr Michelle Phillips, Royal Northern College of Music

“In doing this research and in reading the responses and expertise of our audiences, we felt a landscape opening up in understanding the affective value of culture.”

Sarah Hunter, Quarantine

“This programme made it possible for us to think deeper and wider, be bolder and braver, and above all listen to the echoes of the work.”

Zoe Seaton, Big Telly Theatre Company

“We’re generating some interesting research questions which just wouldn’t surface if you were isolated from real life practice.”

Professor Natascha Radclyffe-Thomas, Glasgow Caledonian University London

“For me this has been the truest sort of collaboration… where we’re figuring things out together, learning new things about each other. And just really working together.”

Dr Katy Pilcher, Aston University

“Talking to the academics about some of the models we’ve used before and them getting really excited was very reinvigorating. It gave a legitimacy to what we were doing.”

Jess Bunyan, Rising Arts Agency

More about collaborative research

A group of people grouped under yellow and pink ribbons
LEEDS 2023 Neighbourhood Hosts. Photo: JMA Photography

Collaborate: the projects

Performance of 12 last songs. Colourful confetti in the foreground obscures the image.
Quarantine's 12 Last Songs, at HOME Manchester. Photo: Chris Payne

How to do collaborative research

A woman smiles while looking at tags that have been hung on an artificial white tree that has been made for a Fun Palaces event.
Fun Palaces 2019. Photo: Roswitha Chesher

Supporting collaborative research

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