Connected Communities Shearer West presentation December 2010
Welcome to:Connected Communities Programme Research Development Workshop on the role of theCreative Economy in Developing & Sustaining Vibrant & Prosperous Communities in the UK
Introduction to the ConnectedCommunities Programme and Aims of the Workshop Professor Shearer West Director of Research AHRC S.West@ahrc.ac.uk
CONNECTED COMMUNITIESConnecting Research for Flourishing CommunitiesRCUK Partners AHRC (lead), EPSRC, ESRC, MRC & NERC)
Programme Vision To mobilise the potential for increasingly inter-connected communities to enhance self- reliance, regeneration, sustainability, health & well- being by better connecting research, organisations and communities.
What do we mean by ‘Community’?• For the purposes of this Programme, and subject to further consultation, we are currently thinking of ‘communities’ as: “cooperative or interactive groups sharing a virtual or physical environment and aspects of identity (such as location, race, ethnicity, age, history, occupation), culture, belief or other common bonds and/or a shared interest in particular issues or outcomes”.• We recognise that such communities are nested and overlap. We are interested both in the relationships within these communities and the interactions between communities and their outcomes for broader society and economy.
Why Connected?In terms of the research:• Improve understanding of both the changing connections between individuals and groups within communities and the connections between different and their implications for future society.• Examine the connections between communities and their broader environments – spaces, places and institutions – and how this can help inform future community-based approaches.• Explore connections between research issues often considered in isolation to deliver more integrated understanding of the roles of, and impacts on, communities.
Why Connected?• Connect researchers, knowledge and data from across disciplines to deliver more integrated understanding.• Connect UK and international research.• Connect researchers, organisations and communities in the co-production of knowledge and knowledge exchange.• Connect research funders to enhance co-ordination and alignment of activities and promote partnerships and collaboration to maximise added value from the currently highly fragmented research field and address strategic gaps
Key Features of Connected Communities Projects Some ideas from the Summit in June 2010High quality research as a given, but also:• Sustainable engagement with real communities from the outset to beyond project life; communities involved in identifying challenges and possible solutions; partnership working; innovative approaches to co-production.• Ideas of connectedness and disconnectedness, fluidity of complex relationships between individuals, within communities and between communities; both positive and negative dimensions of ‘connectedness’.• Prepared to consider complex underlying issues and questions such as ethics, power, rights, equity, nature of benefits and burdens, sustainability, well-being.
Key Features of Connected Communities Projects Some ideas from the Summit in June 2010• Grounded in deep understanding of communities as diverse & complex cultural phenomena but seeking to draw wider transferable or generalisable insights.• Draws together insights from different research approaches /different disciplines/ different research & policy domains.• Crucial role of comparative and historical dimensions.• Develops novel approaches to long-standing challenges or understanding new cultural phenomena.• Focus on communities (variably defined) as the prime unit of analysis but not forgetting the ‘bigger picture’.
Key Features of Connected Communities ProjectsSome ideas from the Summit in June 2010• Relevant to strengthening well-being in communities and to policy & practice.• Builds on past research, understanding and current evidence base, ‘not reinventing the wheel’ but developing transformative approaches.• Focus on change and processes of change; forward looking but informed by the past.• Explores creative approaches – looking at ‘what could be’ as well as ‘what is’.
Activities in 2010/11• Connected Communities ‘Summit’ Birmingham (June 2010) & 19 follow-up projects now being supported• Civility project (AHRC, ESRC, Young Foundation)• Collaboration with CABE on ‘Beauty’ (AHRC)• BIS SIN US network event on communitarianism• Workshop on ‘crime & communities’, 27 July 2010 & 9 follow-up projects to start shortly• Workshop on ‘Design & Communities’ with Design Council in early 2011• Highlight notice AHRC’s collaborative doctoral awards scheme (call closed 4 November 2010)
Activities in 2010/11• Fellowship in collaboration with RSA Citizen Power in Peterborough Programme (call closed 26 November 2010)• Scoping studies and research reviews, (call closed 26 November 2010)• Highlight notice in AHRC’s research networking and fellowships schemes (Open deadlines)• Today’s research development workshop on role of the cultural & creative economy in creating prosperous communities (& follow-up funding opportunity)
Focus for this workshop The Creative Economy• ‘Creative Economy’ covering a wide range of activities that demonstrate creativity within the economy. This includes, but goes beyond, those sectors traditionally included within definitions of the creative and cultural ‘industries’.This broad approach could include, for example:• individual practitioners and micro businesses; cultural institutions, cultural tourism; creativity and innovation in business and industry, public services and the voluntary and charitable sector; cultural production alongside new technologies; ‘branding’ and the ‘experience economy’; ‘creative cities’ and ‘creative clusters’.• creative production; cultural activities; cultural environment; creativity, open innovation and technological change; community- led creative & cultural activities.
A Connected Communities FocusCommunities at the centre of research, for example:• The specific role of communities in the creative economy, in shaping, generating or engaging with initiatives and the impacts of initiatives for communities;• How connectivity, or lack of connectively, within or between communities may affect the development or outcomes of creative economy initiatives;• Potential for adding value to current research by better linking up past, current and future research & by learning across disciplines / research fields (e.g. sustainable development, health, crime etc);• How links with communities and other potential partners might be built in appropriately from the outset of the research and how the potential benefits of the research for policy-makers, practitioners, cultural and creative businesses, and communities, might be maximised.
A Changing Policy Context?• Public spending cuts;• Big Society, localism, ‘bonfire of quangos’ (e.g. RDAs) in England but different approaches in Scotland, Wales & N.Ireland;• Increased emphasis on ‘Well-Being’ and ‘Happiness’;• Increasing recognition nationally and locally of the importance of the creative economy as a part of a competitive & sustainable diverse economy;• Increasing globalisation and international competition, growth of the digital economy.
Examples of Challenges• Maximising the value and learning from previous and current research across a range of disciplines – moving beyond individual case studies; comparative approaches; transferability and generalisability .• Addressing gaps in the evidence base. e.g. do we know enough about the long-term sustainability and distribution of any benefits for communities?• Making better use of new cultural initiatives, large and small scale, as research ‘experiments’.• Finding better ways to conceptualise and assess successes / failures, benefits /‘disbenefits’, economic and well-being impacts.• Developing more effective partnerships and community engagement from the outset that strengthen future research.
The Challenges• These are just examples. Aims of the workshop are to identify challenges and develop creative approaches to addressing them• We do not have a pre-determined idea of the types of projects or approaches, topics etc that should emerge, but we do have an idea of the types of things we are looking for in follow-up proposals...
An OpportunityTo “do something different to make a difference”An opportunity for:• Creativity, innovation, imagination – projects should look different from previous research (but build on current knowledge & understanding)• Novel cross-disciplinary / Cross-Research Council collaborations• Exploring new partnerships with policy / practice / business / voluntary sector• Putting communities at the heart of the research• Co-design & co-production of research• Projects with the potential to move beyond single case studies to make a significant difference to research landscape, policy, practice and communities
A Unique Funding Opportunity• Longer and larger research projects (up to 5 years, £1.5m FEC) (plus co-funding opportunities)• Development funding for earlier stage development work (scoping, reviews networking etc activities)• Unconstrained by Research Council boundaries but with Arts and Humanities research perspectives playing a central role.