Impact of arts on people's lives investigated as part of national inquiry

Nottingham has been chosen as one of only four places in the UK to take part in a three-year national research study into how the arts and culture can improve lives.

Our arts and cultural organisations are often uniquely placed to help us make sense of the fast-moving and turbulent times we're living in.

Kathie Moore, Dean of Social Sciences at Nottingham Trent University

Nottingham has been chosen as one of only four places in the UK to take part in a three-year national research study into how the arts and culture can improve lives.

The national inquiry is being carried out over the next three years by the world-renowned Gulbenkian Foundation, an international charitable foundation.

Nottingham Trent University's new place-based think tank, being created in partnership with the Royal Society of the Arts (RSA), will carry out the location studies together with the Creative Quarter Company, national research partners, What Next?, the Gulbenkian Foundation and Liverpool's Institute for Cultural Capital.

The studies will look at how the arts and culture can improve lives, communities and democracy in a fast-changing, post-Brexit world marked by a disillusionment in traditional political processes and a move towards devolution and local leadership.

Kathie Moore, the Dean of Social Sciences at Nottingham Trent University, part of the team leading on the establishment of the think tank, said : "The University's research activity is concentrated on topics which make a real difference to lives and society, so being involved in the Gulbenkian Foundation's inquiry through our new NTU/RSA place-based think tank will really support our work.

"Our arts and cultural organisations are often uniquely placed to help us make sense of the fast-moving and turbulent times we're living in, giving us a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us, as well as helping to shape the city we live and work in."

Kathy McArdle, CEO of the Creative Quarter Company, which co-chairs Nottingham's What Next? network of 150 arts organisations in the city, said: "Being chosen to be one of just four places in the UK to carry out location studies for the Gulbenkian Foundation's inquiry is hugely important for Nottingham and clearly underlines our growing importance as a national and international city of culture, including our status as a UNESCO City of Literature.

"The research will help Nottingham better understand the role that local arts organisations play in the city and our communities, bringing us new insight and a fresh perspective."

The studies will take place over a four to six month period and will respond to the following questions:

- What role do you think arts and cultural organisations are playing in Nottingham as places of learning, democratic debate and community-building?

- What do you think arts organisations in the city are NOT doing, or should be doing, to support learning, democratic debate and community-building?

- What organisations in the city are already delivering work which is facilitating learning, democratic debate and community-building? What are they doing and why are they making an impact?

They will be made up of desk research, case studies, three public debates, interviews with key thought-leaders in the city, a local literature review and a number of conversations through social media, to understand the thoughts of people in the city.

The inquiry will also engage with the city's local networks, especially those which support participation and democracy, including the voluntary sector, informal neighbourhood networks, online communities and social enterprises.

Paul Russ, CEO of Dance4 and Chair of Nottingham's Strategic Cultural Partnership, said: "Nottingham is an ambitious global city with a thriving cultural offer and a rapidly growing creative economy. In order to capitalise on that, Nottingham's Strategic Cultural Partnership is developing a 10-year strategy that will place the city’s creative and cultural sector at the heart of Nottingham's future.

"Being part of the Gulbenkian Foundation's Inquiry recognises that, and will support the strategy, due to be published in the autumn, making sure Nottingham is one of the UK's leading cultural cities in years to come."

The inquiry aims to increase awareness of the civic role that arts organisations play nationally and in their communities, including who they serve and how. When it concludes, the Gulbenkian Foundation will develop recommendations as to how this role can be strengthened through policy change and practical support.

  • Notes for editors

    The Gulbenkian Foundation
    The Gulbenkian Foundation is an international charitable foundation with cultural, educational, social and scientific interests, based in Lisbon with offices in London and Paris. The purpose of the UK Branch in London is to bring about long-term improvements in well-being, particularly for the most vulnerable, by creating connections across boundaries (national borders, communities, disciplines and sectors) which deliver social, cultural and environmental value.

    What Next?
    What Next? is a movement bringing together arts and cultural organisations from across the UK to articulate, champion and strengthen the role of culture in our society.

    The Creative Quarter
    Launched in 2013, The Creative Quarter (CQ) is Nottingham's flagship project for economic growth, enterprise and entrepreneurial spirit.

Impact of arts on people's lives investigated as part of national inquiry

Published on 29 August 2016
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