Creativity and culture

Research to change, inspire and provide a voice

Our researchers prove that in collaboration with other fields, creativity and culture bring about a positive change in society.

This work explores questions like the value of culture in conflict, community-based and collaborative art practice and the role of social arts.

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Support for communities through visual arts

We're harnessing the valuable life experience of the older generation through the long-term Active Energy research project that works across disciplines.

It's a partnership with an engineer and The Geezers, an East London senior men’s group who work together to explore how new technology might benefit their community.

New initiatives for older people worldwide

Initiatives resulting from the ten year Active Energy project include sustainable energy workshops in a local school, a turbine-driven light work on the roof of an AgeUK centre, exhibitions in the UK and USA, and the design of low cost turbine for use in the River Thames.

In the latest phase, a floating water wheel is helping keep fish alive when pollution levels rise in a Thames tidal basin. Next the wheel will transfer to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.

More about Active Energy

Dr Loraine Leeson and Active Energy

Dr Loraine Leeson, who leads Active Energy, is a visual artist who works through social engagement. She leads our MA Art and Social Practice, which, like her research, focuses on the role that art can play in bringing about social and environmental change through enabling community-based knowledge to enter the public domain.

Solutions to end poverty through women’s entrepreneurship

In the Neelum Valley, Pakistan, Dr Neelam Raina, Professor of Design and Development, is looking at the value of culture in conflict. She's working with a local non-governmental organisation, SABAH, to support women’s entrepreneurship in the country.

A local approach to alleviating poverty

This work has already empowered many women to develop their craft so they can generate sustainable incomes for their families. It's an inclusive and locally-led approach to alleviate poverty that's made possible through training, peer-to-peer learning and knowledge exchange with other practitioners.

This work is supported by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Dr Raina was appointed by UK Research and Innovation as one of only nine national Challenge Leaders to the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

About the project

Dr Neelam Raina and her research

Dr Neelam Raina's research explores the links between culture, conflict, poverty and development. Her current research focuses on how Muslim women in conflict zones cope and their needs of income generation in unstable environments. She also looks at whether vocational training could impact their ability to generate income through culturally relevant activities. Dr Raina is also interested in exploring women in Afghanistan and their survival strategies; and, in reverse, the impact on income generation on their socio-cultural identity.

A new approach for creative research

Our research on dance articulation draws parallels between improvisation and research, things that don't always go hand in hand. However Professor Vida Midgelow argues that dance research is not something that occurs before or even during the creative process but rather it’s found within the ‘doing’ of dancing.

Research guidance for creative practitioners

Working in partnership with Choreographic Lab and funded by Arts Council England, Professor Midgelow has developed Creative Articulations Process (CAP), a ten-year model that guides practitioners in creative processes. It's an approach that goes deeply into one place, like fishing or mining, to reveal and understand more about it. There are six steps to this process - opening, situating, delving, raising, anatomising and outwarding - that support dance practitioners in their research.

More about CAP

Professor Vida Midgelow and her research

Dance artist and academic, Professor Vida Midgelow is Professor in Dance and Choreographic Practices and she leads the doctoral provision for the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries. As an artist scholar she works on PaR methodologies, improvisation and articulation processes. Her practice includes somatically informed improvisational works, performative lectures and installation/experiential performance practices/video works.

She is editor of the Oxford Handbook of Improvisation in Dance and is principal researcher for the Artistic Doctorates in Europe project.

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