Manchester’s Castlefield Gallery is hosting a one-day discussion event in January, Artists Working within Higher Education, that will look at what artists get out of working with HE institutions – and what institutions look for when working with artists.

The event, at Castlefield’s New Art Spaces Federation House venue, forms part of the one-year research programme, Co-producing legacy: What is the role of artists within Connected Communities projects?

Led by artist Steve Pool with academics Kate Pahl (University of Sheffield), Helen Graham (Leeds University) and Amanda Ravetz (MMU), the programme will look to uncover the diverse ways artists and academics are working together within higher education, with specific reference to Connected Communities, an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) programme.

Launched three years ago, Connected Communities looks to better understand the changing nature of communities in their historical and cultural contexts and their role in sustaining and enhancing the quality of life. It also aims to strengthen connections between community endeavours and academic research.

In total, 100 artists have been active in the programme that encouraged academics to work directly with artists, bringing a community-engaged approach to their research. At the same time, artists challenged and informed the socially-engaged research undertaken by academics.

Multiple approaches

Pool, who initiated the Co-producing legacy research programme as an integral part of his own collaborative practice, explains: “Through the research we have carried out so far, we have come to realise that artists are working within higher education on many levels through multiple approaches – often in isolation.

“Artists in this arena place their work in many different contexts, from social activist through researcher and educator to community and socially engaged arts practice.

“The Artists Working within Higher Education discussion event hopes to bring artists and academics together to explore this diversity and make connections between approaches that on the surface may look very different.”

The day will include presentations by Pahl and Pool, who will introduce their research and talk more broadly about artists working within HE. They’ll be joined by project team member James Oliver who will discuss the idea of practice as research.

Other speakers include: Professor Vanessa Toulman (Head of Cultural Engagement, University of Sheffield) discussing what universities look for when working with artists; Steve Swindles (Professor in Creative Practice, University of Huddersfield) looking at new ways of working between artists and higher education; and a-n’s Executive Director Jeanie Scott, discussing how a-n engages with HE institutions.

There will also be chances throughout the day for delegates to share their own experiences of working with HE institutions.

a-n  is offering two writer’s bursaries to enable artists to attend the event and report back. To apply, please book your place and then email an expression of interest to [email protected] with ‘Writer bursaries’ in the subject field, before 5 January 2015.

Artists Working within Higher Education, 21 January 2015, 11am-4pm, New Art Spaces Federation House, Manchester. This event is free but booking is essential. For more information, including travel bursaries to attend the event and how to book a place, see

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Connected Communities study: exploring the role of artists