The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has launched four Knowledge Exchange Hubs for the Creative Economy to connect researchers with the UK’s vibrant creative sector, giving a £16m boost to the UK’s Creative Economy.
One of the four hubs is led by University of West England – Bristol and is called Research and Enterprise in the Arts and Creative Technologies – REACT. UWE is leading a consortium that includes the Universities of Bristol, Exeter, Bath and Cardiff and the Watershed Arts Trust. REACT will also work closely with creative businesses, including SMEs, arts and culture organisations and other agencies.
REACT is directed by Professor Jon Dovey and based in Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio, enhancing its existing partnership with UWE’s Digital Cultures Research Centre. This unique city-centre studio, which was established in 2008, brings together artists, technologists and academics to explore the future of creative technologies.
Professor Dovey said, “Our Creative Economy Hub is all about building new relationships between academics and businesses. REACT is off to a flying start with six projects already in production taking humanities research and creating inspiring experiences for heritage visitors. Our projects combine academics and business to make innovative digital services. Research is finding new audiences and creative economy businesses are developing new products. We’re aiming to change the culture so that academics and creatives become part of one another’s world.”
The UK’s Creative Economy, which includes the creative industries as well as museums, galleries, libraries, orchestras, theatres, is, relative to GDP, probably the largest creative sector in the world. As the major focus of AHRC’s new knowledge exchange and impact strategy for 2011-2015, the Hubs will encourage significant interactions between research and the Creative Economy which will generate wider social, economic and cultural benefits.
Over the next four years an investment by the AHRC of some £16m will enable the KE Hubs to build new partnerships and entrepreneurial capacity in the Creative Economy and increase the number of arts and humanities researchers actively engaged in research-based knowledge exchange.
David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science said, “The AHRC’s four KE Hubs represent an incredible opportunity for the UK’s innovative and world-leading creative sector to collaborate with the excellent arts and humanities research at our higher education institutions. This interaction between businesses and universities is crucial for driving growth. The work of the four Hubs will enable businesses and organisations to benefit from our world-class research base as well as enrich the creative industries.”
Speakers at the launch event in London included Sir Adrian Smith (Director General, Knowledge and Innovation), Jude Kelly OBE (Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre), Professor Sir Alan Wilson (Chairman of the AHRC), and Professor Rick Rylance (Chief Executive of the AHRC).
Professor Rylance said, “The UK is outstanding at many things and leads the world in some. Of these the quality and innovation of our research and the dynamism of our creative economy are two that stand out. These AHRC Knowledge Exchange Hubs for the Creative Economy offer the opportunity to unite these sectors to the benefit of both sides and the country as a whole. We look forward to working closely with them over the next four years and to welcoming the results of their work.”
After the four-year period of AHRC funding each KE Hub will have made arrangements to develop the legacy of its work, including sustaining partnerships, delivering economic impact and continuing other major benefits.
The other three lead institutions are the University of Lancaster, The University of Dundee and Queen Mary, University of London.