Tag Archives: participatory arts

Job Opportunity! 12-month Senior Research Associate, UEA, Participatory Arts/DIY

We are currently advertising for a 12-month Senior Research Associate, to work with me exploring aspects of participatory arts and DIY Culture, why might include punk rock. It’s a great opportunity to do some in-depth new work in the field. Information here. Deadline for applications 13 March. From the further particulars:

The post

The Arts and Humanities Research Council-led Connected Communities Programme is focused on collaborative research, with particular interest in projects co-produced with community partners. It has to date funded well over 300 projects, working with over 500 community partners. Its two Leadership Fellows provide academic direction for the programme as a whole. The Participatory Arts and DIY Culture project is funded under the Connected Communities Programme, and led by one of the Leadership Fellows, Professor George McKay.

The project

Participatory Arts and DIY Culture is a 12-month project funded under the AHRC’s Connected Communities Programme. The Principal Investigator is Professor George McKay, AHRC Leadership Fellow for the Connected Communities Programme, and Professor of Media Studies at the UEA. The Senior Research Associate will work closely with Professor McKay and relevant Connected Communities projects to explore a series of questions around participatory arts, community practice and/or DIY (Do It Yourself) culture, and to produce a series of outputs (review, academic outputs, relevant events) in liaison with him, partners, and the Connected Communities administrative team at UEA.

Professor McKay was the editor of one of the earliest books on the subject, DiY Culture: Party & Protest in Nineties Britain (Verso, 1998), and is also involved in some of the current 40th anniversary events marking punk rock since 1976- 77. He has also written about community music, including with Pete Moser, eds., Community Music: A Handbook (Russell House, 2005).

The project research questions include (to be refined and re-shaped in discussion with the successful postholder):

  1. What kinds of new thinking and practice are there in participatory and community arts?
  2. In what ways has (ideological) thinking about DIY, and its use in academic disciplines, shifted?
  3. How can we chart the impact and resilience of grassroots / DIY groups?
  4. What forms of organisation and structure do grassroots/DIY groups practice?
  5. Which cultural forms have been central to DIY practice?



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Digital Folk symposium, University of Sheffield, 27 November

working with Community Music East, 1986

working with Community Music East, 1986

I am very pleased to be speaking at this (free) event in Sheffield, the first in a series of research events from Digital Folk – a two-year AHRC-funded research project that examines the ways in which folk arts participants use digital resources.

Marking the mid-way point of this AHRC-funded project, this symposium will explore how digital media and technologies have affected the ways in which people experience and engage with participatory arts.

The symposium is designed to complement ongoing investigations of the folk arts – the central focus of the Digital Folk project – by drawing on the wider context of grass-roots participation across the artistic landscape.

Delegates will be invited to question the ways in which – and the extent to which – the establishment of the digital era has transformed and/or conserved vernacular creative practices across forms such as music, dance and theatre. Here is the programme for the day:

10:00 – 10:30

Registration & Coffee

10:30 – 11:00

Introduction: Simon Keegan Phipps

11:00 – 11:45

Speaker: Sita Popat – Virtually Touching: Embodied engagement in virtual and mixed reality art installations

11:45 – 12:30

Speaker: Kerrie Schaefer – Community Performance and Asymmetries of Digital Access and Creative Production

12:30 – 1:30


1:30 – 2:15

Speaker: Henry Stobart – Digital access, agency and creativity – or just amateurism? Indigenous music video (VCD) production in highland Bolivia

2:15 – 3:00

Speaker: David Gauntlett – Digital folk cultures that are not digital *folk* cultures

3:00 – 3:30


3:30 – 4:15

Speaker: George McKay – Connected Communities, community music and the congregationist imperative

4:15 – 5:00

Discussant: Nicola Dibben

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AHRC Research Network, Community Music, Leeds

Some notes from this meeting held in Leeds on 18 September …

A group of 14 academics, PhD students, and community musicians and organisers met in the third of four network meetings. HEIs represented include Leeds College of Music, Salford University, Sheffield University, UEA, Boston University, University of West of Scotland, RNCM, Goldsmiths. Community organisations include CME, Youth Music, Sound Sense, Lime/Music for Health, International Society for Music Education, as well as the freelance sector, and funding representatives. Several AHRC Connected Communities projects also were represented, from community music and participatory (cross-)arts, and questions were linked to some of these.

AHRC Community Music Leeds 18 Sept 2013

Dr Mark Rimmer from UEA introduces some of the issues for the research network

The network was funded under a highlight notice for Connected Communities, and the representation on this day really did feel like an emblematic CCP event, with the range of academics and partners. The network’s aims include how to:

  • Critically reflect on the condition of CM in UK today
  • Understand CM’s role in ‘connecting communities’ (eg empowerment, participatory practices)
  • Understand role of community art in community development
  • Develop a research programme.

The network has been partly a response to the sense of urgency within the austerity debate, as well as the emphasis on voluntary community organisations, the commercial language and focus on economic value over other forms of value. The network is set against a challenging backdrop of cuts in funding, and changing ideology around community arts, as well as a precariousness in career opportunities. It was reported that, in research for a recent related AHRC project, one Director of a CM project said that ‘we’ve probably seen the traditional [community] music sector die effectively’. While the soft outcomes of CM in the past have been impressive and valuable, the austerity agenda has driven towards ‘harder outputs’. These are the ‘harsh realities’ for contemporary (community / participatory) arts.

But the network is also about re-establishing and confirming or re-figuring the core values of CM, not losing them. Though is it a ‘tricky time’ to be revisiting or restating core values, when it seems in the effort for survival some organisations might be thought to be jettisoning them, with significant redundancies and shrinkage across CM organisations. And are they rather expensive values in a time of austerity? Or is it in times of crisis that we most need radical visions and sonicities? And anyway, aren’t community musicians by their nature radicals, especially if you look at the longstanding ones (the ones who didn’t do it for five years and then get QTS and go into school teaching, say).

Key to CM: ‘if you [funders, say] don’t like my values, well, here are some others’—and CM shouldn’t apologise for that, it is an indication of its capacity to be flexible and successful, and it’s because CM is focused always and inherently on what music does, and what music does is wide-ranging and deep.

Giving a voice, or rather listening to the voices communities already have, negotiation, empowerment … are these why CM does (and, if so, does it always do them)?


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