GW4’s Bridging the Gap project, which has been funded by AHRC to broker partnerships between the arts and humanities sector and universities in the South West and Wales, held its formal launch at Paintworks, Bristol with a one-day workshop last month.
It was a great opportunity to bring together researchers from the arts and humanities with representatives from the culture and heritage sector, social enterprises, community groups and local authorities for a day of discussion, brainstorming and collective thinking.
The goal of the workshop was to open up the questions that Bridging the Gap will be addressing over the following months – how best can GW4 assist universities in carrying out research not just for, but with, the communities in the South West.
The workshop demonstrated a lot of optimism and goodwill for the future of collaborative research. It was seen to be able to play a role in generating economic benefits, and improving quality of life in the region in a variety of ways. However, the questions demonstrate that there was also attention to practical, political and ethical issues.
- How do funding structures affect what collaborative research can achieve, and their legacy?
- How do researchers and external partners make the first steps towards developing productive relationships?
- Are there ways of conducting collaborative research that can reduce the risk of conflict, loss or alienation by the different parties?
After lunch the group began to consider how these questions might differently affect the four focus areas of Bridging the Gap: creative economies, environmental humanities, modern languages, and heritage. The discussions headed in surprisingly different directions, which will give the project team plenty of food for thought.
Many thanks to all those who gave their time to come over to Paintworks and share their perspectives.
Over the following weeks and months, Bridging the Gap will be building on these initial discussions and digging into the question of how GW4 might best be able to support researchers and their external partners. We will be posting more about our events and experiments and our findings, as they emerge.
If you would like to find out more and follow the progress of the project, or contribute your perspective, then please do get in touch.
Images have been reproduced with the permission of AHRC. You can find these at their original post, Bridging the Gap: Shaping the Southwest and Wales through Arts and Humanities.
Post by Dr Liz Haines, Research Associate for Bridging the Gap.