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AHRC projects explore new heritage experiences in South West

Date: 16/05/2012

Six projects that have been commissioned out of the South West are unlocking histories, hauntings and happenings in all kinds of UK heritage attractions, as well as un-ravelling rich experiences through the use of cutting edge technologies. The commissions come under the banner of Heritage Sandbox, the first run of funding announced by REACT, one of four UK Knowledge Exchange Hubs for the Creative Economy funded by the AHRC.

The six collaborative awards representing creative industries and inspiring academic research reflect an investment totalling over £300,000 to the UK?s cultural economy.

Each project aims to deliver new ways to experience heritage attractions, through new kinds of social interaction enabled by pervasive media and immersive digital technologies to bring audiences closer to past lives and collective histories.

Projects range from augmented reality mirrors on board Bristol?s famous SS Great Britain to a multi-sensory stroll through the exotic Georgian pleasure gardens of Bath. They explore contemporary attitudes to death and human remains in Cemeteries and Museums, giving the dead a technological voice and bring history back to life through interactive located archives using real memories and historical characters (see full description of the projects below).

Heritage Sandbox is part of REACT, led by UWE Bristol (the University of the West of England), one of four UK knowledge exchange hubs funded by the AHRC, supporting innovative products and transformational services by bringing together companies and academics through game-changing collaborations using the sandbox model. Heritage is the first theme, with seven iterations to be commissioned in the next three years.

REACT Executive Producer Clare Reddington said, REACT is about supporting unusual partnerships and brilliant ideas. The six Heritage Sandbox projects are great examples of the new ways of thinking that can be achieved by bringing together arts and humanities research with creative companies. We are very excited about working with these collaborations over the next three months and bringing their projects to life?

REACT Director Jon Dovey said, ?Over the next four years REACT will transform the way Universities and companies work together to create wealth and value for the UK Creative economy for years to come. The partnerships in these projects will become the heart of new networks of value creation. These projects take fascinating Arts & Humanities research and explore how to engage new audiences.

To find out more about the programme and its 2012 commissions, please visit: www.react-hub.org/heritage

Follow Heritage Sandbox on Twitter at: @reacthub

AHRC Media contact: Jake Gilmore, Communications Manager, 01793 416021; j.gilmore@ahrc.ac.uk

Notes to editors:

About the projects

http://www.watershed.co.uk/ished/heritagesandbox/commissions/2012

Project 1 - The Future Cemetery
In 170 years of operation, Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust has handled 320,000 dead bodies, equivalent to the living population of Bristol. This entire project utilises mobile, projection and AR technologies to build a future cemetery model, where Victorian past and digital present are woven together.

Project 2 - Ghosts in the Garden
Bath's Sydney Gardens in Bath were developed as a Georgia pleasure garden but today the swingboats, labyrinth and elaborate ‘Cosmorama’ are all gone. This project takes audiences on an epic journey of rediscovery, pitching visitors headlong into the past. Part game, part story, part immersive sound scape (accessed via a special 'Georgian Listening Device'), present-day visitors will meet and interact with real characters from the Gardens' heyday.

Project 3 - Reflecting the Past
Opening the doors to the first class Dining Saloon on board the ss Great Britain, visitors will encounter this space as dinner has just finished, on a voyage of the 1860s. Pioneering the use of augmented reality ?mirrors?, this project will create an interactive experience in a venue where a large physical installation would not be possible, offering a glimpse of those who ate, drank, gossiped and sang onboard this illustrious ship.

Project 4 - City Strata: The Cinemap Layer
‘City Strata’ is a mobile platform, which enables developers to create location based experiences which include user generated and uploaded content. The platform will be prototyped with a ‘Cinemap’ layer, which will enable users to explore and contribute to Bristol?s rich cinema-going heritage in the places where it actually happened.

Project 5 - Memory of Theatre
Theatre's heritage is intangible but lives on in spectators' memories and through the stories they tell. Audiences, actors and staff will return their memories to Bristol Old Vic and record them exactly where they took place. Theatregoers will discover these memories stored in the ether by wandering the renovated theatre with a mobile device.

Project 6 - The Ivory Bangle Lady
In 1901, the Skeletal remains of a young woman interred with an unusual range of burial gifts, were excavated from a stone coffin in York. Cutting- edge research, suggests she was a high status migrant to Roman York, of North African descent. This project tackles the way human remains are displayed in museums and aims to create a technologically augmented installation that will reveal the story behind the mysterious Ivory Bangle Lady of York.

About REACT
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), REACT (Research and Enterprise in Arts and Creative Technology) is one of four UK Knowledge Exchange Hubs for the Creative Economy and is a collaboration between UWE Bristol (the University of the West of England), Watershed, (and iShed), and the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. It is a unique collaboration supporting innovative products and transformational services by bringing together companies and academics across South West and Wales.

It reaches across two dynamic UK regions, and uniquely across three cultural areas and two languages and creative economies. Together we aim to generate a transformation in arts-driven economic and social impact, by combining demand from the Creative Economy with Arts and Humanities research excellence. REACT is working with iShed to deliver projects using the Sandbox process. We will run two Sandbox schemes a year with six projects in each scheme from 2011 ? 2014. Each Sandbox scheme will have a different theme and to qualify applicants must have a project that uses Arts and Humanities research with a Creative Economy partner.
www.uwe.ac.uk
www.bath.ac.uk
www.bristol.ac.uk
www.cardiff.ac.uk
www.exeter.ac.uk

About iShed
iShed was established by Watershed in 2007 to produce creative technology collaborations. iShed?s portfolio of commissioning schemes, events, research and consultancy encompasses the arts and creative industries. Local, national and international partnerships with industry, artists and universities, enables iShed?s support of talent and new ideas. iShed extends Watershed?s impact by widening opportunities for creative engagement with technology, developing digital practice through a focus on open investigation and audiences.

About Heritage Sandbox
The Sandbox process is a tried and tested innovation programme for guiding and enabling companies to research emerging possibilities in interactive, digital media, create new ideas and deliver innovation to the market. Each project will engage with industry experts in areas of business development, intellectual property, PR and production. The Sandbox scheme is in its fifth year and this year has awarded six £50,000 commissions to support research and development of innovative experiences content, applications of experiences.

About Watershed
Watershed is a cross-artform venue and producer, sharing, developing and showcasing exemplary cultural ideas and talent. Based in Bristol, we place no boundaries on our desire to connect with artists and audiences in the wider world. We curate ideas, spaces and talent to enable artistic visions and creative collaborations to flourish.

About The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC): Each year the AHRC provides approximately £98 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 hundreds of research awards ranging from individual fellowships to major collaborative projects as well as over 1,100 studentship 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.

AHRC Knowledge Exchange (KE) Hubs in the Creative Economy: AHRC KE Hubs present a unique opportunity for Research Organisations already working in strategic partnerships with creative businesses and cultural organisations to strengthen and diversify their collaborative research activities, build new partnerships in the creative economy and increase the number of arts and humanities researchers actively engaged in research-based knowledge exchange. Representing an investment by the AHRC of some £16m over four years (over £20m including the contribution from the universities themselves under FEC), the Hubs are charged with the task of building new partnerships and entrepreneurial capacity in the Creative Economy and increasing the number of arts and humanities researchers actively engaged in research-based knowledge exchange.

This investment reflects the significant benefits that arts and humanities researchers bring to the creative businesses of the UK. The four lead institutions are:
University of Lancaster
University of Dundee
Queen Mary, University of London
University of the West of England

Each is leading consortia that will include other universities, creative businesses, including SMEs, arts and culture organisations and other agencies.

About Creative Industries iNet
The Creative Industries iNet (Innovation Network) is a £3.2 million programme of support designed to help the South West?s creative businesses thrive and advance the area?s growing reputation as a global creative centre of excellence.
The iNet is supporting each Heritage Sandbox project to develop the commercial applications of their ideas and find new markets, by giving them access to specialist information and research, and through sharing knowledge and expertise.

The iNet is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and led by Creative England, the recently formed national body that supports the sustainable growth of independent creative businesses, and the talent that feeds them, in every part of England outside London.

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