Conferences · Education · RESEARCH:inthepark

Workshop – Engaging with Publics in the Cultural and Creative Sector 

Today I helped facilitate a workshop at ‘Engaging with Publics in the Cultural and Creative Sector’ at the Royal Northern College of Music. This was a one-day event sponsored by the AHRC-funded North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership (NWCDTP). Our workshop addressed the question ‘What is the value of our research to cultural organisations and how can we collaborate productively?’.

I was invited to contribute to this workshop due to the REALab project I am currently undertaking with Rachel Smith at the Whitworth art gallery in Manchester. You can read more about this research project RESEARCHinthepark. Rachel and I are working with the Whitworth as a cultural sector partner so we, along with Rosalinda from REALab, created and facilitated today’s workshop event with that experience in mind.

After breaking the ice and introducing ourselves to the group, the workshop participants each spoke about their current positions and any previous engagement. With a group of approx 20 participants, half were current PhD students, while the rest were academic or cultural partners.

We asked the group to break off in to smaller groups of 4, and gave them a list of scenarios to choose one to focus upon as a group. These were fictitious briefs, but were based upon similar REALab projects.


Once each group had picked a project brief, we did a quick fire brainstorming activity using post-it notes. We asked each individual to spend two minutes in silence writing as many ideas on separate post-it notes as possible.

Each team then fed back their research design, thinking about how this could be beneficial for the PhD student, and then the cultural partner.

We then concluded the session by answering three questions:

What is the value of engagement for PhD researchers?

What value can researchers bring to cultural partners?

What does it mean for a collaboration to be productive?


The workshop formed part of and engaging and productive morning at the Royal Northern College of Music. The workshop participants were full of ideas and all contributed enthusiastically. As this was the first workshop I have written and facilitated in an academic setting, I was nervous. However, we managed to do all the activities planned in the time we had, learning more about our own research in the process.

I would like to thank my co-facilitators Rosalinda (also for inviting us to get involved with her) & Rachel, the conference organisers at the RNCM, and AHRC NWCDTP.

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