The Distributed University

Dementia Connect: working together to build a dementia innovation ecology (Tim Senior, UWE)

The AHRC’s Creative Economy Hubs programme (2012-2016) did much to uncover the value-driven, myriad, and nuanced roles of “creativity” in tackling important challenges of our time – economic, social, and cultural. With substantial Creative Industries funding now available through the UK Industry Strategy, there is risk we may lose sight of the learning from this pioneering programme, whether a commitment to a broader conception of the Creativity agenda, or the need to temper innovation with a critical stance on maintenance, repair, and re-use.

Take Dementia: At the moment, there is no cure – pharmaceutical interventions are limited and expensive, with outcomes modest at best. With a renewed focus on maintaining quality of life, it is significant that people’s artistic, imaginative and emotional capacities can remain strong for years after diagnosis. A growing body of evidence underscores the importance of arts and cultural interventions in elevating people above the stresses of dementia, delaying degeneration and improving memory, thinking, social interaction, and communication.

In our programme ‘Dementia Connect’ we bring together people living with dementia, their loved ones, healthcare service providers, voluntary and public sector organisations, business partners, and university researchers to explore what a thriving innovation ecology might look like. Our research points towards a Hub model that isn’t university- or industry-led, but rather fully embedded or distributed within communities. In this paper, we will present the findings of Dementia Connect and argue that this final move is necessary if we are to deliver on the promise of the Creativity agenda.

A view from the edge: changing approaches to university and cultural sector collaborations (Rachel Pattinson, Newcastle University and Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books)

Navigating a challenging funding landscape, arts and cultural organisations are increasingly collaborating to make their resources stretch further and engage new audiences. Universities are similarly turning to partners, who can help to demonstrate impact beyond the academy, support challenge-based research funding bids and enhance the student experience.

Now, new approaches are emerging to manage and co-ordinate collaborations between the two sectors. This session will explore a range of emerging roles, structures and initiatives which focus on knowledge exchange.

Then, through a case study focussing on the Vital North Partnership between Newcastle University and Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books, the paper will investigate how the changing structure of this relationship has supported teaching and research at the University across disciplines and has enhanced Seven Stories’ work.

Can these collaborative roles and structures emerging within academic and cultural anchor institutions change our creative economy? And, what’s the view like from the edge?

Playful responses for serious problems (Marcus Willcocks (presenting), University of the Arts London and Cameron McAuliffe, University of Western Sydney)

How can interventions which are co-created between universities and urban communities help lever ongoing grass-roots level agency, amid intensifying neoliberal urban development? PlayParramatta is a practice-led research activity conducted between two universities, citizens and organizational stakeholders in the City of Parramatta (Western Sydney), exploring what space there can be for communities to use playfulness as a means to ensure diverse publics (Iveson, 2007) are empowered in designing, and being integral to, the growth of their urban fabric which grows rapidly around them.

Whilst the academias of place making, urbanism or urban studies may pride themselves in social or community-connected concerns, public space can very rarely accommodate all the different people who might use it and this constitutes a “wicked” problem, as defined by Rittel and Webber (1973) and Buchanan (1992). In this terrain, there is need to reframe issues relating to public space – to better accommodate growth in diversities among people – not just in theory but in practice-led, collaborative and creative ways which work towards increasing agency among those not typically empowered by ‘regeneration’ or ‘development’. This paper draws upon workshop inputs and on-street research experiments initiated in Parramatta, Western Sydney between Dr. Cameron McAuliffe (WSU) and Marcus Willcocks (UAL). In this presentation, Willcocks will explore how playfulness can helps reframe wicked problems towards enabling new connections and affordances in public space. He will review how such strategies may aid a broader range of participants to playfully address serious problems, to encounter and inform city spaces in new ways.

Chair: George Lovesmith, UWE Bristol

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