Place is an important focus for current and future government research and development strategy. The government has committed to publishing a research and development places strategy. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is leading on the development of the strategy and UKRI is working closely with the department on it.
There is a clear opportunity for AHRC to develop its own programme of investments which could help inform and respond to the new research and development places strategy, ensuring that arts and humanities research is embedded and ready to respond.
As a first step, alongside scoping work to identify areas where arts and humanities research can make valuable contributions, there is the potential to cultivate new and amplify existing connections between arts and humanities research and researchers and local policymakers, stakeholders, and strategy development.
What arts and humanities research can offer to the UK research and development places strategy
Place is a research topic at the heart of many arts and humanities disciplines, from archaeology and architecture to history and literature. Research that offers breadth and depth of local knowledge is needed in order to ensure that place-based investments beyond AHRC are duly sensitive to history, heritage, art, local identities and skills and to build the evidence-base for the value added by such knowledge with a view to shaping an effective places research and development strategy.
Some of our research is about place. Arts and humanities research sheds light not only on the history and heritage of urban and rural settlements, but opens new avenues of investigation into the role of place in generating local and national identities, in connecting people to their natural and built environments and in uniting communities in shared appreciation of their localities, culture and heritage. This makes AHRC a natural partner for local cultural organisations and for local and regional authorities, developers and others thinking about the challenges of, for example:
- the role of cultural assets in well-being
- the role of local (historical and other) knowledge in good planning decisions and of building local consensus around them
- the ups and downs of arts-based regeneration
- how to bring the benefits of belonging to hard-to-reach or marginalized communities.
By generating nuanced local knowledge that helps decision making, arts and humanities research occupies a critical position in helping to target a wide range of place-based research and development spending so it is maximally effective.
The AHRC place programme
AHRC will be investing in two funding opportunities in 2021/22. The first is this opportunity for a programme director who will play an important role in shaping AHRC’s broader, longer term approach to place research and knowledge exchange, as well as bringing together a coherent programme of existing and new investments.
The second opportunity, which will be launched soon, is for small knowledge exchange projects which cultivate connections between arts and humanities research and researchers and local and regional authorities and other relevant local stakeholders.
The aim is to help inform the strategic direction and planning of local and regional authorities, for example with respect to local regeneration and development, by providing access to relevant arts and humanities research and expertise and building capacity in local authorities to make use of this in, for example, accessing relevant funding from beyond AHRC.
Further investments and the future direction of the programme will be determined by AHRC drawing on the work of the programme director.
Town hall meeting
We will be running a town hall event between 13:00 and 16:00 on Monday 26 July 2021. This will provide participants with the opportunity to:
- find out more about our broader plans for supporting place-based research and knowledge exchange and its links to the levelling up agenda, including this opportunity
- hear from researchers, local government officials and others how arts and humanities are contributing and could contribute to local and regional place and levelling up agendas
- network with others working in this area from a variety of sectors (for example research, policy, third sector)Sign up to the town hall event.