Creative collectives, cultural policy and the Commonwealth Games
The early part of 2014 has been a busy one in my professional life. Securing interesting research and practice-focused projects is always rewarding and is what gets me out of bed in the morning but it also creates other dilemmas related to scheduling, prioritisation and focus. In this post I want to summarise some of the exciting things I’ve been involved in over recent months – and what’s to come as my city of residence welcomes the Commonwealth Games in late July.
Since June 2013 I’ve been fortunate enough to be working with colleagues Sue Fairburn at Robert Gordon’s University and Catherine Docherty from Glasgow School of Art on a project titled Collective Futures. I’ve blogged about this project before but we’re now close to completion and it’s been a fascinating example of a truly co-produced project working with Residents from creative collectives from across Scotland and participants from a wider range of collectives in the North East, Central Belt and South West of Scotland. We’ve learned a huge amount about why creatives form or join collectives, how they are constituted, what benefits emerge from membership and the obstacles faced on the journey of a collective. We’re writing up the project at the moment and I’ll be blogging soon with news of the final report and next steps.
I’m also working with BOP Consulting on a process evaluation of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme. This work builds on a project Gayle McPherson and I led in 2012/13 evaluating Scotland’s London 2012 Cultural Programme and there’s some really interesting analysis of social media measurement taking place that will provide some unique insights into the way that programmes of these sort use social media channels in their artistic practice as well as in the promotion of their work.
Away from the explicit focus on culture and creativity, I’m (still) leading the Digital Commonwealth project that I first mentioned in a blog post last year. This Big Lottery Fund project is reaching a peak of delivery in the lead up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games and it’s been fascinating to see the creative response to the themes of the Commonwealth from learners involved in our schools programme, groups participating in creative practice through our creative voices component and across Scotland in our community media work.
As part of this project we’ve encouraged a range of groups and individuals to play with digital media and we’ve developed a set of resources that can be used by project participants – and a wider audience – to learn independently of a team of trainers and educators. One example of this is the set of webmaker tools we’ve developed to help people blog, use social media, audio and video as storytelling aids.
This project continues on beyond the Commonwealth Games and will keep me busy until next year with dissemination and research outcomes. In the meantime, I’m also working with Future Cities Glasgow on a community engagement programme to support Ambassadors to use digital storytelling techniques to relay the vision of the Future City to a range of community groups and organisations. Future Cities Glasgow is an ambitious project and I’m intrigued at how the general public perceive of the value of technology in improving their everyday lives, including in the use of data to improve services, health and transport.
I’m also involved in an international collaborative project with colleagues at the University of Western Ontario and Mount Royal University in Canada titled Leveraging Parasport Events for Sustainable Community Participation. This slideshare presentation I presented at a symposium in Gothenburg earlier this year tells you a bit more about the project which was successful in securing a Game Changer Gold Medal for Research Impact at a recent awards ceremony.
Here’s also a summary video in which Gayle McPherson and I explain more about the project.
Finally, I’m also looking forward to welcoming delegates from across the world to my institution to participate in the annual Leisure Studies Association conference, ‘Sport, Festivity and Digital Cultures’. As well as being heavily involved in the organisation of the event, I’m also doing a keynote (and inaugural Professorial Lecture) on the theme of Digital Cultures alongside Professor Garry Crawford of Salford University.
It’s been – and will continue to be – a busy year. Some more blog posts to follow after July…