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New study to explore role for the arts in generating economic growth in the North


A new study to explore how universities can work more closely with the arts and humanities sector across the North to generate growth and address a diverse range of research questions has received funding.

The N8 Research Partnership, a collaboration of the eight most research-intensive universities in the North (Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York), has received funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to carry out a pilot study to identify ways in which academics, practitioners in the arts and humanities and local authorities can collaborate to stimulate reinvention and influence economic growth across the North.

The N8 already has a strong track record in bringing about pioneering research collaborations in science and engineering through forging strong links with industry, matching demand from the private sector with the world-class research being carried out in the N8 universities. However, this kind of collaboration is relatively undeveloped in the arts and humanities sector.

As part of the project, which is called ‘New thinking from the North’, the N8 and its partners will hold a series of workshops addressing four key themes:
•    Digital North – looking at how digital is being used to create and sustain culture, identity and community in the
•    Heritage North – looking at the heritage economy in the North and how heritage-based regeneration affects
•    Sustainable North – looking at how the economic, social and environmental development of the North are
      connected and how they can be made sustainable and resilient
•    Imaginative North – looking at how the imagination is being used to influence social and cultural development in
      the North.
The project is being co-ordinated by the University of Liverpool. Professor Dinah Birch, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research & Knowledge Exchange at the University of Liverpool, said “This is the first time that the N8 Research Partnership has engaged with the arts and humanities research community.
“The cities represented by the N8 university partners include several of the giants of the Industrial Age. These cities have a history of self-reinvention; and have dynamic economies and vibrant arts scenes. Culture can fuel the process of reinvention, helping people to adapt to change and generate ideas for sustainable and fair models of development – and these workshops will explore how this can be achieved.

“I am delighted that Liverpool has been able to lead this successful bid to the AHRC, which represents a fresh opportunity to collaborate on a range of themes within this diverse research area.”

The study will build on the N8’s existing partnerships with local authorities and local enterprise partnerships and will investigate opportunities for creating employment through start-up businesses and supporting economic development at a community level. The project is supported jointly by the AHRC and all N8 university partners.

Professor Mark Llewellyn, Director of Research at the AHRC, commented:  “The N8’s plan to extend their collaborations to include the arts and humanities is an exciting development. The AHRC is pleased to be able to support activities that will stimulate new ways of bringing arts and humanities researchers together across the north of England to think about heritage, digital cultures and creativity.

"In developing the N8’s successful experience engaging researchers and partners across sectors, academics in the arts and humanities will be able to challenge and debate their own role in regional cultures, communities, growth and regeneration.”

The outcomes of the research will be presented as a policy report for local authorities, and is expected to be published in 2014.

published on: 6 June 2013