UEL’s submission to UoA35 comes from the Institute for Performing Arts Development (IPAD), formed in 2005 and specialising in performing and applied arts, intercultural theatre, creative writing, urban dance, and music culture. IPAD’s strong emphasis on practice-as-research is essential to both its capacity for and commitment to delivering non-academic impacts. Our practical work often directly engages wider audiences in collaborative research projects or with research outputs through a combination of non-academic teaching and learning activities, training workshops and original artistic performances.
Non-academic audiences for and beneficiaries of our work include local, national and international not-for-profit organizations such as Action Aid, IREX, UNICEF and Youth Amnesty. Our expertise in fields such as international development, education and digital engagement is used by these organisations to develop facilitation skills, engage new audiences and promote peer-to-peer learning. It also informs the development of new or improved reusable information resources, online learning tools and professional training. In addition, we share our specialist knowledge of community engagement and sound arts with cultural heritage and artistic organisations such as the National Trust (Sutton House) and Falklands House. Collaborative collation, archiving and digitising of cultural artefacts is used to authorise and disseminate ‘hidden histories’ through projects such as ‘Ports of Call’ in London’s Docklands, and ‘Things that are no longer there’ in Hackney. Such projects often also entail engagement with local schools, community and arts organisations: ‘Ports of Call’, for example, was supported by and included contributions from Drew Road Primary School, St John’s Community Centre, the Asta Youth Centre, Britannia Village Community Centre, North Woolwich Railway Museum, and the Museum of London. Since 2008, we have also cultivated sustainable partnerships with Arcola Theatre, Chelsea Theatre, Hoxton Hall, LIFT, Stratford Circus, Theatre Royal Stratford East Hackney Empire, Half Moon Young People’s Theatre and Newham Sixth Form College. Beyond its benefits to our local community, there is also a strong international dimension to both our research itself and the impacts arising from it, which relate particularly to enhancing community integration, cultural engagement and political involvement. Breed’s work on justice, reconciliation and domestic violence, for instance, has had applications in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (UEL35-01).
Approach to impact
The Unit’s approach to delivering benefits to the user groups identified above is underpinned by its commitment to producing research and practice promoting community integration, political and social engagement, and participation in culturally diverse arts. UEL enjoys a privileged location amongst some of London’s most culturally diverse and rapidly changing communities. Engagement takes myriad forms, but particularly includes the development of original cultural and artistic resources such as theatrical performances, art installations, site-specific performances and exhibitions, and our organisation of and contribution to community and other public-facing events and activities relating to those resources. Recent examples of such activity include Chapman and Qualmann’s delivery between 2008 and 2013 of walking projects engaging professionals, tourists, shoppers, library users, restaurateurs and local residents in dozens of walks through natural and heritage sites in both East London and Scotland. Since 2008 we have also established an important collaborative partnership with the Stratford Circlets Children’s Theatre, with whom we have worked on the development of nine student performances (Hingorani) for the Newham community, and worked since 2010 with the Stratford Circus Arts Centre (see UEL35-02). Where appropriate also we run events in collaboration with other HEIs including Birkbeck College. Recent examples include Katsouraki and Owens’s symposium ‘Beyond Glorious: The Radical in Performance’ (May 2013) and Sotelo, Monks, and Marquez’s symposium ‘Participatory Arts, Patronage, and the Post Olympics’, June 2013
As well as allowing us to deliver benefits directly to local communities, the production of new artistic and cultural heritage resources and accompanying teaching and learning tools or events are important mechanisms for engaging partners in the cultural heritage and museums sector and, thereby, for our delivery of benefit to wider non-academic networks of theirvisitors and audiences. Many of these activities, which engage communities locally, nationally and internationally, are commissioned by our external partners. Local and national examples include Thomas’ provision of commissioned live performances and video-audio walks for the V&A (2008), Creative Campus Initiative (2011), and the GLA (2012) for. In 2012 she was commissioned by the London Design Festival to produce a 20-minute composition and by Diamond Light Source to write a 40-minute composition for DVD. Hingorani’s production of Guantanamo Boy and the series of associated symposia, performances and workshops delivered throughout 2013 facilitated the institution of new partnerships with Newham Sixth Form College, Youth Amnesty, Penguin Books, and The Human Rights Lawyers Association. Ramos was commissioned in 2012 by Persis-Jade Maravala & Zecora Ura (Brazil/UK) to produce Hotel Medea, an immersive and participatory theatre event staged at the Hayward Gallery as part of the Southbank ‘Festival of the World’. The production ran daily from midnight to dawn for four weeks during the 2012 Olympics. It was accompanied by a series of workshops and public seminars reaching over 3000 participants and was a part of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 festival. Bethnal Green Old Town Hall commissioned a walking project based on Qualmann’s work in 2009-10, and in 2010 Chapman was commissioned by the AHRC/EPSRC Science/Heritage research cluster to produce audio projects for I Hear Too – Live 2, re-commissioned in 2012 by the University of York.
Beyond the UK, Harries has composed work commissioned by Fonds Podiumkunsten (Netherlands). Sotelo’s work on participation cartography has enhanced cohesion between local communities in Colombia through his development of a 2009 walking performance (Hacer Ememoria Al Andar), which brought together a group of 20 indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. Castelyn’s performance projects (2005, 2006, 2011), which explore issues of race and the transmission of HIV/AIDS, were used in 2011 as the basis for her collaboration with 25 dancers for a piece performed at the Jomba! Contemporary Dance Festival in South Africa. Media coverage of these and other examples of our original artistic and cultural outputs is an important additional mechanism for our engagement with the widest possible extra-academic audiences. Reviews of Ramos’ Hotel Medea appeared in the Telegraph, Whatsonstage, List, and Herald, and of McWatt’s novels in the Guardian, Globe and Mail, Now, Daily Mail and others. Guantanamo Boy was reviewed in the Sunday Times, Time Out, Metro, Daily Star and in the British Theatre Guide and Reuters. Chapman’s walks have featured on BBC 4 and Breed’s work has been widely covered in Rwanda (New Times), Indonesia (Radar Bromo) and Kyrgyzstan (AKI Press).
Staff also frequently share specialist knowledge developed with local communities both in the UK and abroad via community teaching and learning projects, including our provision of reusable, publicly-accessible information and learning resources. To that end we have worked since 2007 with V&A Collections and various local theatres to produce The East London Theatre Archive (renamed Clustering and Enhancing Digital Archives for Research in 2009), a comprehensive database of East London theatre ephemera providing artists, historians, students and the public with free online access to a digitised archive of over 20,000 playbills, scripts, posters, designs, photos, news clips and other material from theatres such as Hoxton Hall, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Hackney Empire, and Theatre Venture.
Our provision of community teaching often overlaps with our delivery of professional training workshops for practitioners in the arts and cultural heritage sector. Since 2009 Hingorani has provided workshops for groups of emerging directors and designers as part of the Old Vic ‘New Voices’ series and for directors, designers and new writers as part of the Tamasha Theatre Company ‘Developing Artists’ programme (UEL35-02). Qualmann runs workshops for artists through ‘Walkie Talkie’ events associated with the AHRC-sponsored Walking Artists Network (WAN), established by Qualmann in 2012. Those events have included a workshop for some 40 participants in July 2011 as part of Chelsea Theatre’s ‘Sacred In Transit’ season and an event at the ‘Sideways’ festival in Zutendaal (Belgium) in September 2012 for a non-academic audience of more than 500. The Unit has also hosted a number of practitioner conferences, including The East End Seen Through Performance (2009), Archiving for the Future (2010), Making Theatre for Young Audiences (2011) and Community Engagement and the Arts (2013). Further afield, Cawkwell has run 23 workshops on rock-based music improvisation in Japan for amateur and semi-professional musicians reaching over 300 participants, and Breed routinely delivers professional development and training workshops for artists in Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as in the UK. Her work on applied-theatre practices has allowed her to engage with more than 13,000 audience members in Krygyzstan alone since 2008 (UEL35-01).
We also communicate our research expertise through consultancy to international NGOs and inter-governmental organisations. Breed’s expertise in the field of Applied Theatre, for instance, has been used to develop a series of workshops for the UN Special Session for Children, UN Third World Water Forum, and the NY City Hall Forum Theatre and Video Initiative. She has been variously appointed as a trainer, consultant, workshop leader and theatre practitioner by Contacting the World (2007-08), the British Embassy and IREX Europe (2008) and USAID, along with local partners in Indonesia and Kyrgyzstan (2009-2013), and has provided training manuals for NGOs, IOs and GOs like IREX and UNICEF.
The Unit has capitalised on UEL’s centralised sources of support for impact, particularly in the form of school sabbaticals awarded to Breed (2010/2011), Hingorani (2011/2012) and Katsouraki (2012/2013), all of which were used partly to facilitate and maximise impact-related activity. UEL-funded research interns were funded for the development of research for projects including The Circle (Nelmes), Making Theatre for Young Audiences (Hingorani) and Footwork: The Walking Artists Network as Mobile Community (Qualmann).
Strategy and plans
We plan to sustain and, where possible, increase our research impact by:
1. Strengthening existing partnerships with Stratford Circus, Hackney Empire, Theatre Royal Stratford East, University of Winchester, Furtherfield, Falmouth University and the Cambridge Performance Network. We have already made a start on this via a series of three research events held in May, June, and July 2013 and will capitalise on the opportunities that these have presented to consolidate our relationships with these organisations.
2. Building new partnerships through planned research events including a symposium with our new resident theatre company True Heart (founded 2013) and the Asian Performing Arts Forum (Royal Holloway) in October 2013; a Theatre for Young Audiences Symposium with collaborators including Unicorn Theatre, Polka, Theatre Centre and Half Moon in March 2014; and What Can Zombies Teach the Arts with Zecora Ura and Plymouth University to explore how value is created in the context of an ‘experience economy’ in May 2014. We are also developing a partnership between WAN and the 2014 Lincolnshire-Wolds walking festival, and have plans for community-based projects in Newham and Tower Hamlets. These will be conducted with partner schools and NGOs relating to an AHRC Digitising Communities bid between UEL (Breed) and the University of Winchester (Professor Tim Prentki), which will be submitted in December 2013.
3. Increasing cross-HEI collaboration as a means of cascading research benefits through other established non-academic networks. We particularly plan to build on recent events with Birkbeck, and on Breed’s 2013-14 fellowship, Interweaving Performance Cultures Centre, at Freie University, Berlin. Katsouraki will convene TaPRA’s Theatre, Performance and Philosophy working group at the University of Glasgow, 4-6 September 2013.
4. Maximising the impacts of existing projects: Hingorani’s Guantanamo Boy, for example, will go on a national tour accompanied by school workshops in autumn 2013
Relationship to case studies
The two case studies demonstrate the Unit’s commitment to achieving research impact through community participation and action, and to using its research to target social inequality and cultural politics. UEL35-01, which isunderpinned by practice-as-research in Rwanda, Indonesia, and Kyrgyzstan, exemplifies our use of local community engagement with performance to navigate international human rights agendas and justice and reconciliation systems and enhance the cultural life of those regions. UEL35-02 showcases Hingorani’s development of new artistic resources in collaboration with local arts and community organisations to engage diverse, non-traditional audiences with British theatre. Both case studies demonstrate the development of educational and information resources associated with our artistic work, and show the value we place on working with local cultural heritage, artistic and community organisations.