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Creative Citizens

20 February 2012

Professor Ian Hargreaves webProfessor Ian Hargreaves who will lead the Understanding the Value of Creative Citizens project

Cardiff is one of three universities to have been awarded funding for research that will transform the way that our communities interact with the cultural and creative economies of the UK.

The ‘Understanding the Value of Creative Citizens’ project, led by Professor Ian Hargreaves of the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and Cardiff Business School received £1.4 million from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of its Connected Communities Programme and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) under their digital economy programme.

The project will focus on the bedrock of the creative economy – creative citizens. Every day millions of citizens do something creative, from knitting and genealogy to photography and choirs. At present, there is much that we do not know about these people.

Three manifestations of creative citizenship will be examined as part of the research: hyperlocal publishing groups writing neighbourhood news, most often as blogs; community-led design; and creative practitioner communities.

Cardiff’s partners in the project are Birmingham City University, Birmingham University, the Open University, The University of the West of England and the Royal College of Art. The team aim to generate data and insight about each case, but also to answer the more general questions such as: what is the value of creative citizens’ work, to these citizens as individuals, to their communities and to wider civic goals?

Professor Ian Hargreaves said: "This award will allow us to work to understand the value of emerging forms of community news media alongside acts of creative citizenship in other areas, such as design, planning and clusters of artists. This is all part of achieving a better understanding of the UK's creative economy and its future potential."

The investment by the AHRC, which totals more than £3.5 Million across the three projects, is designed to explore the vibrancy of the UK creative economy though the individuals at the centre of it. These creative individuals, and the community activities that develop around them, play a crucial role in Britain’s creative economy as well as enhancing quality of life.

The three new projects look to research these cultural assets, the importance of different forms of connectivity within and between creative communities and their role in local economies, community cohesion and broader well-being. Each will involve active participation by local community groups and, will help to shape, generate and engage with community initiatives so as to offer potential benefits in the future to policy-makers and cultural and creative businesses.

Professor Mark Llewellyn, AHRC Director of Research said of the University’s award: "The Cardiff project indicates the innovative ways in which research teams are engaging with the Connected Communities programme and the opportunities it offers for enhanced collaboration between research organisations, creative businesses, cultural sectors, local communities and networks.

"This award will play an important part in enabling arts and humanities researchers to enrich the contexts of their work and the contributions it can make to an understanding of creativity in our everyday lives."

Along with Cardiff, the University of Birmingham and the University of Manchester have also been awarded funding for separate projects. In addition to traditional academic outputs such as conferences, books and journal papers, the three research projects will support a wide range of public events, exhibitions, creative media products as well as a series of artistic outputs.

Connected Communities is a cross-Council Programme led by the AHRC in partnership with four other Councils – the EPSRC, the ESRC, the MRC and the NERC. It aims to mobilise the potential for increasingly inter-connected, culturally diverse, communities to enhance participation, prosperity, sustainability, health and well-being by better connecting researchers, non-academic organisations and communities.

Other Cardiff project partners are: Knowle West Media Centre, Moseley Community Development Trust, Moseley Exchange, NESTA, Ofcom, South-Blessed, Talk about Local and The Glass-House.

Related links

School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies

Cardiff Business School

Arts and Humanities Research Council

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council