The aim of this project is to establish how community representations produced through creative arts practices (e.g. story-telling, performance, visual art) can be used as forms of evidence to inform health-related policy and service development.
This study will develop methods for using creative art forms as a mode of communication and knowledge exchange.
The project will take place across five distinct case-study communities in Wales, Scotland and England and connect these to relevant policy-makers, researchers and arts practitioners in each country.
This project will consider how perceptions and experiences of community health and well-being vary across time and changing circumstances, and how communities and the people living in them are represented in relation to key differences and divisions relating to gender, class, ethnicity and age.
The research will critically analyse existing representations (both artistic and ‘formal’) of each community, with a focus on the factors that influence health and well-being, in order to develop frameworks and methods for integrating these analyses into qualitative research and policy discourse.
We will be looking at how representations vary in their form and content, and we will also be looking at the fields of production (who created it?), the fields of reception (who is seeing it?) and the field of interpretation (how do people respond to it?). As an example of what we mean by this, take a look at these short films. They were made about the same place, but differ considerably in terms of who produced them, their audience, content and overall message. Let us know what you think by leaving a private comment if you like (these won’t be published).
A Town Like Merthyr, part 1
A town like Merthyr, part 2
Message from Merthyr
Each case study will use creative engagement methods to generate new community self-representations, working in partnership with local arts and health organisations. These new ‘data’ will be presented to relevant local or national policy makers and service development officials through exhibitions, performances and digital media.
The project will create a permanent legacy of artistic resources for the communities involved in the study, as well as sustainable web-based and training resources that can be used to foster co-production of evidence of health related policy and services.
We all belong to communities – at home, in our neighbourhoods, at work, at school, through voluntary work, through online networks, and so on. Communities are vital to our lives and wellbeing. But their importance means we need to understand their changing place in our lives, their role in encouraging health, economic prosperity and creativity, their history and their future.
The AHRC is leading on Connected Communities, a cross-Council programme designed to help us understand the changing nature of communities in their historical and cultural contexts and the role of communities in sustaining and enhancing our quality of life.
The programme seeks not only to connect research on communities, but to connect communities with research, bringing together community-engaged research across a number of core themes, including community health and wellbeing, community creativity, prosperity and regeneration, community values and participation, sustainable community environments, places and spaces, and community cultures, diversity, cohesion, exclusion, and conflict.
A growing body of work under the programme is exploring the temporal dimension to communities, while other clusters of projects are exploring issues such as cultural value in community contexts and ‘community and performance’. Another strand of research is exploring the potential for arts and humanities to support approaches to engagement with communities to active participants in the research process, through the creative arts and media, narratives, crafts and by enhancing consideration of issues such as ethics, power and voice.