An Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded research project entitled The Hidden Story: Understanding Knowledge Exchange Partnerships with the Creative Economy – which maps the ways in which universities support the creative sector – has been published.
Led by Kingston University, in collaboration with institutions from the University Alliance group, it looks at how universities help to build cultural infrastructure, developing a new taxonomy for these activities, which are supported by nearly £50million of public funding each year.
The research places these knowledge exchange activities in twelve distinct categories which include commercialisation, festivals, place-making and curatorial investigations.
Examining the drivers for successful partnerships between higher education and the arts, the findings emphasise cross-disciplinary approaches and the importance of building resilient regional networks, adapted to the creative economy ecosystem which is characterised by a high proportion of microbusinesses and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Making recommendations for policymakers on how universities and the arts can work together to create more value for creative industries, the report calls for greater diversity in funding opportunities and awards to reach the smallest firms, alongside the development of new curricula to support creative leadership. It also introduces a new evaluative tool to measure the impact of individual projects in local growth and wellbeing.
Policy briefing documents, including for regional contexts, are being published alongside the research report to support the dissemination of the project’s findings and the research was recently presented at a Creative Industries Federation event.
Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Kingston School of Art Professor Anne Boddington said the new report opened up many hidden stories that highlighted the importance and vitality of effective knowledge exchange for intelligent university partnerships and the creative economy. “It signals fresh methods and opportunities for further research and curricula developments which can inform policy and strategic funding decisions,” she added. “These will ensure creative communities of all sizes are appropriately supported and universities can continue to accelerate growth within the wider creative economy.”
University Alliance Chief Executive Maddalaine Ansell said that knowledge exchange in the creative economy was usually associated with large funded projects. “This research, though, sheds light on a much wider range of interactions which have previously been less well understood,” she explained.
“The evidence will support institutions and policymakers by highlighting the factors which promote a dynamic ecosystem in which the creative industries can thrive. We hope that it will underpin productive engagement between universities and the arts and will help funders to build a stronger evidence base for supporting a wide-range of research at different scales.”