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£3.5m Investment in Communities and Creative Economy

Date: 17/02/2012

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) today announces the largest investment yet into the Connected Communities Programme, with three new projects that aim to transform the way that our communities interact with the cultural and creative economies of the UK.

Every day millions of people in the UK do something creative, from painting to studying their family history to singing in choirs or producing photographs or artwork. These creative individuals, and the community activities that develop around them, play a crucial role in sustaining the vibrancy of the UK creative economy as well as enhancing quality of life. These three new projects look to research these intangible cultural assets, the importance of different forms of connectivity within and between creative communities and their role in local economies, community cohesion and broader well-being.

The projects will involve active participation by local community groups and will help to shape, generate and engage with community initiatives so as to offer potential benefits in the future to policy-makers and cultural and creative businesses. The three projects, which involve a wide range of creative, cultural, community partner organisations and researchers from a wide range of arts and humanities and other disciplines based at fourteen universities across England, Scotland and Wales are:

  • University of Manchester- Understanding Everyday Participation and its role in creating social and cultural value
  • Cardiff University- understanding the value of the creative citizen
  • University of Birmingham- connecting communities in the creative urban economy.

Professor Mark Llewellyn, AHRC Director of Research said of the awards, The three projects indicate the innovative ways in which research teams are engaging with the Connected Communities programme and the opportunities it offers for enhanced collaboration between research organisations, creative businesses, cultural sectors, local communities and networks.

These awards, alongside the AHRC's other recent activities around the creative economy, play an important part in enabling arts and humanities researchers to enrich the contexts of their work and the contributions it can make to an understanding of creativity in our everyday lives.

Connected Communities is a cross-Council Programme led by the AHRC in partnership with four other Councils; the Engineering Physical and Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Economic and Social Research Council, the Medical Research Council and the Natural Environment Research Council, that aims to mobilise the potential for increasingly inter-connected, culturally diverse, communities to enhance participation, prosperity, sustainability, health and well-being by better connecting researchers, non-academic organisations and communities.

In addition to traditional academic outputs such as conferences, books and journal papers, the three research projects, which will last from two to five years in duration, will support a wide range of public events, exhibitions, creative media products as well as a series of artistic outputs. In addition, four PhD students will work on the projects.

As well as funding from the AHRC, the individual projects also involve co-funding from a range of organisations including the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Creative Scotland.


AHRC Media Contact: Jake Gilmore 
Email: j.gilmore@ahrc.ac.uk 
Tel: 01793 41 6021

Notes: Communities, Culture and Creative Economies: Research Grants

Dr Andrew Miles, University of Manchester- £1,204,673.41
Understanding Everyday Participation - Articulating Cultural Values

Professor Ian Richard Hargreaves, Cardiff University- £1,124,934.08
Media, community and the creative citizen.

Dr Phil Jones, University of Birmingham- £1,218,900.21
Cultural intermediation: connecting communities in the creative urban economy

Total: £3,548,507.70

Connected Communities is cross-Council Programme led by the AHRC in partnership with four other Councils; the EPSRC, the ESRC, the MRC and the NERC. It aims to mobilise the potential for increasingly inter-connected, culturally diverse, communities to enhance participation, prosperity, sustainability, health & well-being by better connecting research, organisations and communities.

At the core of the Programme is research to understand the changing nature of communities and community values, in their historical and cultural contexts, and the role of communities in sustaining and enhancing our quality of life. This enhanced understanding will also inform the development of more effective ways to support and catalyse community cultures and behaviours that contribute towards flourishing communities and addressing key economic and societal challenges. Engagement with communities at all stages of the research is a key feature. The programme seeks to connect research expertise, knowledge, understanding and approaches relevant to communities from across the research base to develop a more holistic understanding of community life. 

The Programme has three cross-Cutting themes:

  • understanding changing community cultures and histories and patterns of connectivity within and between communities
  • connecting research on communities
  • connecting research with communities and relevant organisations, stimulating research partnerships enhanced harvesting of research for the benefit of communities.

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC): Each year the AHRC provides approximately £100 million from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from languages and law, archaeology and English literature to design and creative and performing arts. In any one year, the AHRC makes approximately 700 research awards and around 1,100 postgraduate awards. Awards are made after a rigorous peer review process, to ensure that only applications of the highest quality are funded. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. 

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