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City of Culture Collaborative Research Projects and the AHRC Summit

Our Cities of Culture AHRC Summit is fast approaching! We'd like to share some of the research projects that are part of this exciting, virtual two-day event.

The summit will include three research focussed sessions, exploring how collaborative projects are engaging with local communities, what they are doing and where they are going. The sessions will involve creative methods to engage our Summit audience, with themes, connections and keywords artistically captured via live video stream. We asked a few of the researchers involved how they feel about being a part of this unique event.

Dr Daniele Lorenzini and Dr Federico Testa (University of Warwick) are working with Professor Carolina Rito (Coventry University) on Life Futures which asks ‘How has Covid-19 transformed our understanding of life and sociability?’

The team commented:

“We're delighted to be part of the AHRC summit for many reasons, but one in particular is our project addressing the transformations of forms of life and sociability during the pandemic, which aims to stimulate an exercise of the imagination about possible futures. For us, this can only be a collective endeavour. We're certain that the summit's research sessions will be themselves crucial moments in this collective exercise.”

Upcoming roundtable

As part of this project, an upcoming roundtable on May 26 will discuss Life and Sociability, with confirmed speakers Dr Miguel de Beistegui (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona), Dr Chiara Bottici (The New School, New York), Dr Maurice Stierl (University of Warwick) and Dr Martina Tazzioli (Goldsmiths, London).

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Life Futures promotes debate on the conditions of life and creation during the pandemic, and a collective exercise of imagining new possibilities for a post-Covid future

Call the Midwives explores South Asian women's experiences of accessing healthcare.

Research as cultural practice

Life Futures joins Cooking Connections led by Dr Emma Meehan and Dr Elaine O'Sullivan (Coventry University) and Homeless Monopoly led by Professor Nadine Holdsworth (University of Warwick) in the ‘Research as cultural practice: Supporting communities’ session on Day 1.

On Day 1, we'll also hear about ‘Research as cultural practice: Giving space and voice to the seldom heard.' During this session, the projects of Roma Allotment led by Dr Rosamaria Cisneros (Coventry University) and SAVI: Social Action Video Initiative led by Dr Michele Aaron (University of Warwick) will join Call the Midwives led by Dr Saba Hussain and Dr Kindy Sandhu (Coventry University) and Dr Shahnaz Akhtar (University of Warwick).

Dr Shahnaz Akhtar commented:

I'm really looking forward to being part of a conference that explores the way in which the arts and research can work together. Inspired by the AHRC summit, we're currently planning a creative segment for our presentation, which is helping us engage with our community groups in a new way enriching our research.”

Arts Intervention for People with Dementia

Dr Michael Loizou (Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Coventry University) and Dr Deborah Biggerstaff (Warwick Medical School) are involved in Day 2 with their project Digital participative visual arts intervention for people with mild cognitive impairment/dementia.

Working with Coventry residents, this project will create digital materials and shared activities using local arts and psychology experts. Researchers will develop and improve an existing digital arts app named “ArtonTheBrain (AoTB)" utilising locally-created art. AoTB was recently trialled among older people in long-term care facilities in Boston, USA. The trial demonstrated that using AoTB resulted in substantial wellbeing improvements - regardless of cognitive status.

Dr Deborah Biggerstaff commented:

“We’re excited to be involved in the AHRC Summit. We’re currently selecting artworks from our partner, The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum for our research. Such a vast resource – we’re spoilt for choice! ArtOnTheBrain (AOTB) project explores how viewing art may help people with mild cognitive impairment or dementia, and their carers, living in Coventry and Warwickshire. The aim is to support their wellbeing and quality of life, especially following Covid-19. We’re working with partners the Herbert Art Gallery, Carers Trust, Heart of England, Care We Share, Coventry Fab Lab, the University of Toronto and Baycrest Health Sciences.”

AoTB was evaluated in a trial among older people in Boston, and will now be adapted for use in a similar setting in the UK.

Deborah and Michael’s project will form part of a discussion on ‘Research as cultural practice: Supporting public health policy.' Oliver Scott, Director of Mercurial Dance with Number 10 Bus Route and Dr Kerry Wykes and Dr Sally Pezaro (Coventry University) and Boats on an Ocean (a Coventry Creates digital exhibition project involving NHS workers during the first wave of Covid-19) will also be discussing their research projects.

The AHRC Summit will be held from 24 - 25 June. You can see all key speakers, projects and register on our AHRC Summit webpage. You can find more information about our many other City of Culture research projects on our webpages.

Professor Jackie Hodgson, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research).