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About Us

The Centre for Applied and Participatory Arts is a multi-disciplinary research centre which works closely with colleagues in academic schools, research centres and institutes across the University. The Centre connects the 'applied' expertise of academics in the performing arts to other disciplines. 

The use of the arts and creativity across social and public sectors, both local and international is well known for its benefits in increasing well-being, education and cognitive awareness/understanding across a wide spectrum, from self-awareness and advocacy to policy change.

Our experience in applied arts practice, working as cultural brokers and facilitators in different HE, business and community contexts, enables us to work with the arts to create shared values and purpose in partnerships between researchers in socially-engaged projects and their partners in diverse communities and settings.  

The value of this 'applied' approach is explored in a recent report on HEI Knowledge Exchange collaborations published by Virani and Pratt, (2016) which analyses collaborations between HEI and industry. The report sets out a case for a greater role for 'cultural intermediaries' to establish trust between academic and industry partners who may have conflicting needs and attitudes in relation to research. Establishing or 'translating' rules of participation, they argue, is a key function in successful KE collaboration.  

Our aims and objectives

We aim to:

  • Develop socially relevant arts-based research, pedagogy and applied practice that engages with and responds to real-world needs and problems 
  • Bring together and enrich the practice of applied researchers, consultants and innovators across UEL where there is common focus or potential in the uses of the arts for social and public benefit.  

Our objectives (over the first three years) are to:

  • champion a rigour of intellectual and critical engagement with the uses of the arts in applied settings.
  • establishing fora for exchanging ideas between applied arts practitioners, academics and professionals in other industries to develop future collaborations and funded activity through seminars and workshops across UEL.
  • sharing practice and growing membership and alliances with the Centre.
  • Develop and sustain a series of key projects with appropriate external stakeholders and partnerships with key organisations.

Brief report of work undertaken by members in preceding three years

Martin Heaney has completed work as an evaluator for the My Creative School Programme led by A New Direction and funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

This two-year developmental programme was designed to develop pupil engagement and achievement through arts-led interventions in core subject areas. It also addressed teachers' skills development and whole school approaches to integrating the arts in the curriculum. He also leads multi-agency arts partnerships, for example as a consultant for Prosper, a multi-disciplinary ACE-funded programme in East Kent for The Map Consortium and Canterbury Festival supporting innovative arts sector, HEI and voluntary sector partnerships which generated additional income of £162,000 on original grant allocations of £150,000. As Co-Director, he also led an ACE-funded research and development project Encounter for HertsCreation CiC which investigated the links between art-making and emotional wellbeing for young people with mild depression and anxiety.