Delivering impact through City of Culture research
Research has been a key driver in the University’s partnership in Coventry City of Culture – including during the last year, despite the challenges of lockdown and home working. In the last three years, Warwick researchers have carried out more than 60 new research projects - working in diverse ways and settings with a wide range of organisations, artists and communities. Projects have been supported by dedicated City of Culture research funds each year, as well as through GRPs, public engagement, and a co-funding programme with Coventry University.
A range of city-based events have brought this work to new audiences and strengthened elements of co-creation and we are already starting to see the wider impact of our colleagues’ work.
We have also built up a close collaboration with our academic neighbours at Coventry University through the City of Culture University Partnership.
We have co-funded projects through open calls, bringing together researchers from both institutions - seeding new research, new interactions, new collaborations and new partnerships.
Working together in creative and innovative ways, we responded to the challenge of lockdown research with our first artistic commission programme - Coventry Creates – which saw local creatives produce new artworks in response to academic research.
This provided some much-needed support to Coventry artists and a template for future impact through creative engagement.
More commissions are planned, including as part of the Coventry Biennial taking place across the City of Culture year.
Research projects are interdisciplinary, impact-driven and include organisations and communities from the city.
Many projects focus on marginalised groups, such as Homeless Monopoly - a board game with real testimonies and scenarios of homeless and ex-homeless people in Coventry, designed to raise awareness of and empathy for rough sleepers.
City of Culture is more than just an arts festival – it is an opportunity to engage in creative ways in order to improve the social and economic prosperity of the city, to contribute to Coventry’s Cultural Strategy, to improve health and reduce inequalities. Our researchers are doing this through an array of innovative projects that span all Faculties.
These projects tend to be interdisciplinary, impact-driven and include local organisations and communities, including parents of autistic children, Syrian refugees, politically marginalised groups, Muslim women and mothers, young people experiencing homelessness, asylum seekers, breastfeeding mothers, African, Chilean, Roma and Caribbean communities as well as women’s groups, school children and LGBTQ+ communities. Nearly 60 Coventry organisations have been involved in these projects so far, encompassing an incredible array of activities.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve had film screenings, canal boat festivals, literacy workshops, photography, dance, cookery, community theatre, poetry, story gardens, urban allotments, weaving and more!
Coventry, like the rest of the world, faces challenges resulting from, and exacerbated by, the impact of the pandemic. The University’s recent funding round Recovery and Transformation: Coventry a City of Culture was an innovative call resulting in nine new projects funded by Warwick and jointly with Coventry University.
They address challenging topics, such as the ways in which digital engagement with art can help people suffering from dementia; how virtual school trips curated by undergraduates abroad can support children’s language learning; the challenges of becoming a parent during the pandemic; understanding the differential healthcare outcomes of South Asian women through oral histories; imagining new possibilities in a post-covid future by exploring how Covid-19 has transformed our understanding of life and sociability.
All projects have knowledge exchange at their core, with researchers and their partner organisations keen to share and learn from one another, whilst positively impacting people’s lives in our city and further afield.
Working with Coventry residents, a Digital Participative Visual Arts Intervention will create digital materials and shared activities using local arts and psychology experts.
The University Partnership has led to collaborative funding bids from £50k to £50m, and City of Culture has been a springboard for individual projects around wellbeing, transport and cultural inequalities. It has also supported collaborative working among our doctoral students, who organised a workshop around City of Culture-focused work in 2020, and are planning events in June and a symposium in September 2021.
Our Global Research Priorities (GRPs) are also making important contributions to the City of Culture year with a cross-GRP ‘Sustainable Coventry’ programme planned for October. More on all this in a future impact blog! We would like to profile all culture, creativity and Coventry related research on our webpages.
If you’d like to know more, do get in touch with our City of Culture research development officer India Foster.
I am thrilled to have City of Culture in my portfolio and am proud of the enormous amount of socially-connected and impactful research our colleagues have been carrying out. This will not cease with the City of Culture year in 2022 – legacy will be a hugely important part of our contribution.
Professor Jackie Hodgson Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research).