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Art-Connection in the United Kingdom

The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, David Hockney, 2011


Loughborough University is at the forefront of the development of innovative and interdisciplinary research programmes

Loughborough University (Lboro)

Ranked as the best University in the UK in 2019, the Storytelling Academy at the School of Design and Creative Arts at Loughborough University is developing experimental research projects applying digital storytelling as a methodology for participatory research.


Role in the Art-Connection project

Lboro is leading on the second deliverable (theoretical and methodological framework for the implementation of Art-Connection action research to be conducted in the four partner countries), as well as the organisation of an online learning activity; Lboro is contributing to the production of all deliverables of the project and is conducting its own action research in the UK.

Project referent: Antonia Liguori. Lecturer in Applied Storytelling at Loughborough University’s School of Design and Creative Arts.

Loughborough University action research

The team of researchers from Loughborough University will create and deliver with community partners and local stakeholders two action research projects: one in Loughborough, co-led with final year Drama students, and one in Birmingham, co-designed with artists and practitioners from Artscoop.

As part of the first community project participants will be involved to create a digital soundscape and an accompanying interactive digital platform. Two mini-websites will document the creative and socio-cultural process through online storytelling, in addition to; blogging, vlogging and a variety of other formats.

The project will primarily be the creation of a soundscape that will investigate migration in the town of Loughborough through the medium of food. Students and researchers will have to gather testimonies, sound atmospheres in restaurant and take-away outlets around town. The gathering of this verbatim material might lead to the organisation of live events (accessible online in a 3D representation of an imaginary Leicestershire urbanscape co-designed as part of this module) and video and digital storytelling might be part of the documenting process.

Participants will be organised in different production teams, depending on their interests and skills.

We envisage the participation of 2 researchers, 15 Drama students and 30 community members.

For the second action research project, researchers from Loughborough University will work with Artscoop, a Birmingham-based organisation to provide cultural/community opportunities to Ladywood/Edgbaston residents.  The local community will be brought together by collecting diverse personal stories from people living near Edgbaston Reservoir, an important city-centre outdoor/community space. These stories will be presented digitally via a dedicated website and social media campaign. This project will connect intergenerational groups around their shared experiences of living by and using the reservoir, whilst helping them to recover from the negative impacts of Covid-19 and social distancing.

Working closely with 3 community groups: Avery Care Homes, Osler Street Park Children’s Group and Eat Make Play, over 6 months we’ll deliver 6 x 2hr online Zoom digital storytelling workshops and 3 x 2hr socially distanced storytelling workshops. In total we expect at least 50 residents/members of these groups aged 7-100 to take part and contribute their story.

Experts in Digital Storytelling from Loughborough University will train 3 leaders from each community group in the best ways to use simple technology to gather digital stories and lead storytelling workshops. Workshops will then be run by community leaders in tandem with Professional Digital Artists to support community group members to document their stories using simple mobile phone videos, photographs and voice recordings. The Artists will use this content to create a dynamic online archive and interactive website.

All staff/participants live across Ladywood, which in many parts is in the 10% most deprived in the country (IMD 2019).  Avery Care Home residents are suffering from increased loneliness/isolation as a result of Covid-19 visitor/activities bans and need accessible/safe activities to give them focus, connect socially with others and help protect against early-onset dementia. Children in the local groups have been cut-off as a result of Covid-19. This project will help them reconnect with each other and their local area in a safe way through enjoyable storytelling workshops/activities.

Both projects will involve local people and participating community groups have advised us that there is a need amongst their service users for a creative project that will help people to look beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.

Focus on the theoretical and methodological framework of action research (2nd deliverable)

Objective:  to define a theoretical and methodological framing of Art-Connection action research

The purpose of this intellectual production is to define and propose a theoretical and methodological framework for the implementation and evaluation of participatory action research by all partners of the Art-Connection project.

It includes a theoretical and ethical framing of the concept of action research of each of the partner countries, based on documentary research and interviews with researchers, to determine its conceptual elements.

It also includes method elements to define its research axis.

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