Prof Katy Shaw and Dr Lauren Baker from the AHRC Creative Communities team joined the Creative Fuse NE Conference this week, with Katy opening the first day of the two-day conference at Middlesbrough Town Hall.
Creative Fuse North East (CFNE) is a unique partnership between the North East’s five universities – Newcastle, Durham, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside – dedicated to exploring innovation and growth for the region’s creative, digital, and IT sector. The collaborative aspects of CFNE, where academics work alongside industry, cultural organisations, charities, and the public sector is an example of the collaborative R&D the Creative Communities team is seeking to uncover and champion.
Spread across two days, the conference was presented in a decentralised format, inviting businesses, academics, and creative practitioners to respond to conference themes including creative places, levelling up, co-creation and collaboration, and how creativity can shape identity and innovation.
— Professor Katy Shaw (@ProfKatyShaw) September 14, 2022
On day one the conference was hosted at Middlesbrough Town Hall, where Katy participated in a panel on ‘Creative Places, the Urban, the Rural & Levelling-Up’ that included Professor Jonathan Sapsed from Newcastle University, and Jorge Velez-Ospina and Professor Bruce Tether from the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre. The panel unpacked how ‘microclusters’ of creative communities are living and working across the devolved nations and region of the UK, and the impact of the Levelling-Up agenda on place-based creativity.
Other exciting sessions included ‘Evaluation in the Cultural & Creative Sectors’, led by Dr Ladan Cockshut and Professor Mariann Hardey of Durham University, who shared insights on the complexities of cultural evaluation. This included a community-based programme titled Street Museum, where arts organisation East Durham Creates and the County Durham community of Blackhall collaborated to interpret and display objects from the Durham University collections in the homes of community members, taking the universities collections out of the institution and to the local community.
Day two was hosted at Northumbria University and featured lots of rich discussion around some of Creative Communities key themes, including co-creation and establishing trust in collaboration. Highlights included Dr Nkumbu Mutambo and Dr Julie Crawshaw of Northumbria University hosting a panel discussion on ‘Knowledge Exchange in the Creative Industries’, where the conditions for creativity and interdisciplinary fusion were explored with Andrea Carter and Rose McMurry from D6: Culture in Transit. In the afternoon, Dr Emma Coffield of Newcastle University led on ‘Making Space For Collaboration’, a panel including Ed Banks from Newcastle City Council, Mandy Barker of Sail Creative, and Sarah Bird of Dwellbeing Newcastle, with the group reflecting on experiences in establishing trust and collaboration when working in temporary, pop-up & ‘meanwhile’ spaces.
Reflecting on her time at the conference, Lauren states:
‘Creative Fuse is an amazing example of academic collaboration, but the conference really provided an opportunity to meet and hear from some of the communities, organisations, and businesses that have had to the opportunity to work with the CFNE team over recent months and years, and those are the stories we really want to hear at Creative Communities.
What has been the role of this programme in these peoples lives, and where would they like to see it go in the future?’
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