Social Responsibility Awards, Round 2 (2021-22): Project Abstracts
Written/compiled by Anke Bernau
We are delighted to share abstracts (see below) for some of the projects that received Social Responsibility (SR) / Cultural Engagement Awards in the second round of applications for this year. We hope that this will give a good sense of the wide range and reach of SR-related work being undertaken across the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures (SALC), as well as providing helpful examples for those interested in putting a project together in the future.
If you have any questions or ideas you would like feedback on, contact your departmental SR representative in the first instance, and/or get in touch with Simon Parry (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Anke Bernau (email@example.com).
Dr Jenna Ashton (Art History and Cultural Practices)
‘Our Green and Pleasant Land’
The project responds to an emerging opportunity to connect with North Manchester residents who are currently disconnected from any kind of environmental action or climate conversations. Residents in North and East Manchester have led the ‘St George’s Day Parade’ for 17 years, halting for 2 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The core organisers are again holding the parade on 24 April 2022. We propose to create a creative environment-focused section of the parade (the first of its kind) with the organisers and regular resident participants titled, ‘Our Green and Pleasant Land’. Climate and environment campaigners are rarely connecting into patriotic discourses or groups, usually due to clashing political and ideological reasons. Climate awareness or understanding, therefore, tends to continue to ‘preach to the converted’ within residential areas. The parade offers an opportunity to connect into different community perspectives and experiences of land, belonging, care, and initiating climate awareness as part of a resident-led patriotic activity.
Dr Sophie Everest (Institute for Cultural Practices)
‘Contemporary Community and Creative Collecting with Platt Hall’
The aim of this project is to share knowledge, ideas, and experience about contemporary community and creative collecting to inform the future collecting policy at Platt Hall (Manchester City Art Galleries). Platt Hall is the former Gallery of Costume, which closed to the public in 2017. The building still houses a historically important dress and global textiles collection alongside collections of everyday ephemera such as dolls and sewing. In the last two years the staff at Platt have begun to open the museum’s doors in a new way, actively consulting with local residents and communities to explore how Platt can become a vital and creative space at the heart of its local neighbourhood (see Platt Hall and a film produced by Belle Vue for more info). Collections are at the heart of this consultation, inspiring regular collections chats with residents and a new community garden space run by volunteers in the museum’s grounds. Staff have now begun to think about the role that contemporary collecting might play in strengthening community relationships and connecting the global collections at Platt with the heritage and experiences of local residents and groups. Platt Hall, situated in Platt Fields Park on the borders of Rusholme, Moss Side, and Longsight, also shares a geographical location with our student community and this project aims to build new relationships between students at the University of Manchester, Platt Hall, and its constituent community.
Dr Melanie Giles (Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology and Egyptology)
‘Vestiges: Crafting Connections through the Heritage of the Peak District’
Sheffield Museum Trust’s Weston Park Museum have approached the private investigator to draw on their academic expertise and outputs from the 2020-21 SALC and Creative Manchester Cultural Engagement project ‘Stories of Discovery‘, to enrich a major exhibition and events programme on the antiquarian Thomas Bateman, running from 27th May 2022 to 15th February 2023, entitled ‘Brought to Light: The Remarkable Bateman Collection’. This project will work with the museum curators to embed select poems and artworks from Stories of Discovery within the exhibition, in a creative response to landscape, material culture and collecting practices. The research team will contribute to an exhibition film as interviewees, whilst the Geographic Information System StoryMap will be embedded in the exhibition as an interactive display and through a website. Finally, the project will deliver public events, in the form of a round-table discussion on Bateman and the heritage of the Peak Park, a lecture at the Derbyshire Archaeology Day and a museum-based workshop, inviting members of the public to try their own hand at poetic and artistic responses to the past.
Dr Victoria Lowe (Drama and Screen Studies)
‘Save Hulme Hippodrome: Developing Practices of Intangible Heritage Safeguarding’
The Hulme Hippodrome is a 120 years old Grade II listed Edwardian theatre in Hulme (M15 5EU), one mile south of Manchester city centre and adjacent to The University of Manchester. The Save Hulme Hippodrome (SHH) campaign was set up in 2020 to rescue the building from developers and raise funds restore it to community use. Due to the slum clearance programme around 1965, which devastated Hulme communities, there is a significant gap in existing archives of the social histories and resident experiences connected to the Hippodrome, a crucially important venue for working-class communities. Likewise, contemporary experiences in recent decades have not been identified due to uninterested private ownership. This project seeks to involve SALC academics in delivering a programme to support the sustainability of SHH through building capacity and the skill sets of its members. The project lead, Dr Victoria Lowe (Lecturer in Drama and Screen Studies), and the project advisor, Dr Jenna C. Ashton (Lecturer in Heritage Studies), are both active supporters of, and advisors to, the Save Hulme Hippodrome campaign, contributing skills, expertise, and volunteering and mentoring time. Members of the SHH have identified a need to develop their research skills to support archiving, documenting, and much needed evidence-collecting of the use and value of the Hippodrome with Hulme communities and residents, past and present. The ability to collect and archive stories and materials would enable a parallel practice of intangible cultural heritage safeguarding alongside the campaign to save the Hippodrome building itself. This intangible aspect is urgent given the ages and health of some of the residents that holds memories and stories.
Dr Emma Martin (Art History and Cultural Practices)
‘Defining and Developing the UK’s First Arts and Culture Community Land Trust through Community-led Research’
This project supports the initial development phase of the UK’s first Community Land Trust (CLT) dedicated to arts and mental health, based in Wirral, Northwest England. CLTs are democratic, non-profit organisations that own and develop land for the benefit of the community. Typically, they provide affordable homes, green and civic spaces, and energy schemes. As the first CLT with a remit for community arts and mental health, the Wirral Arts and Culture Community Land Trust (WACCLT) will have a nation-wide role in determining what an arts-based CLT means for the wider CLT scheme. Using Community-Led Research methods (CLR), Institute for Cultural Practices academics and WACCLT trustees will collaboratively design and deliver a series of closed and public workshops. The aim is to establish with and for the community the priorities of the WACCLT and consider the Trust’s role within the Wirral and it wider implications for the CLT scheme.
Dr Joanna Taylor (English and American Literature and Creative Writing)
‘Walking with Dorothy Wordsworth’
Dorothy Wordsworth was a prodigal recorder of her local landscape. Across journals, letters, pedestrian travelogues, and poetry, she documented a unique record of the Lakeland environment in the early nineteenth century. Joanna Taylor is part of the core team who have co-curated Wordsworth Grasmere’s current major exhibition, ‘Dorothy Wordsworth: Writer, Sister, Friend’, which celebrates Wordsworth’s 250th birthday and showcases Wordsworth’s life and writing, including a focus on her pedestrian achievements. To complement this activity, Taylor and Cowton are collaborating with the Grasmere Women’s Institute on a walking app, which aims to extend the museum space – and visitor engagement with Wordsworth’s writing and environmental perspectives – out into the local landscape. This project will facilitate the app’s completion, and adapt its material for pedagogical uses. At Manchester, this material will be especially relevant for the L2 core course, ‘Romanticism’, and the L3/Master’s module, ‘Literary Landscapes’.
Dr Biyun Zhu (Institute for Cultural Practices)
‘Building Cultural Diplomacy into the Agenda of Cultural Sustainability: A Collaborative Project with Manchester Based Artists and Cultural Institutions’
This project positions cultural diplomacy as the heart of cultural sustainability and adopts a framework of four elements (intergenerational equity, intragenerational equity, cultural diversity, and interconnectedness) to assess the current operational environments, challenges, and approaches of bottom-up cultural diplomacy to inform future practice of local cultural organisations and practitioners. Cultural diplomacy, at the community level, plays a key role in preserving and communicating local culture (intergenerational equity); empowering artists and small to medium-size organisations (intragenerational equity); facilitating intercultural dialogue (cultural diversity); and enhancing social cohesion and economic development (interconnectedness). However, exchanges and mobility as a key of cultural diplomacy have been hindered by the long-lasting effects of COVID, which presents great challenges to individuals and organisations with small budget and limited experience to handle the changes. Geopolitical factors (e.g., Brexit and tensions between the UK and some countries in the Global South) have further complicated the situation in terms of increasing visa restrictions for artists and decreasing international collaboration schemes. This research project aims to help local cultural organisations and artists navigate these changes and envision a new future through lesson-drawing from successful experiences.
Duration of SR projects round 2: 2021-2022
SR Directors: Simon Parry (Director for SR, SALC) & Anke Bernau (Associate Director for SR, SALC)
Audiences involved: SALC staff/students & wider public
SR funds: SALC Social Responsibility Award & Creative Manchester Cultural Engagement Award