Creative Partnerships for Video Games: European Workshop – Last Chance To Book A Place

1234 by KalasMannen CC BY-SA 2.0The AHRC is one of the organisers of a one-day workshop for games developers and researchers from the arts and humanities to explore creative ways of working together. The workshop will take place on 20th March from 9am until 4.30pm in at Nesta, 1 Plough Place, London, with a drinks reception and networking event on the evening of the 19th for those who are arriving earlier and staying overnight. However, if you’re interested in attending you’ve only got until 1st March to book a place.

Why should I attend?

The workshop will provide:

  • Opportunity for game developers and researchers from the arts and humanities to explore creative ways of working together
  • Create synergies and partnerships between complementary areas of expertise
  • Identify priority areas where academic/business collaboration can support for the future development of the video games industry
  • Identify appropriate funding streams to support follow up
  • Inform the development of the UK Creative Industries Strategy (Technology Strategy Board)

Who are they looking for?

Priority will be given to arts and humanities researchers in the following areas:

  • Interactive storytelling
  • Creative writing
  • Artistic design
  • Interactive performance
  • Cinematography
  • Music
  • Theatre
  • Communities and audience interaction

The event follows an AHRC funded project which led to the development of the innovative storytelling-focused computer game Dear Esther in 2012. That game demonstrated that there is a market for games whose focus is on interactive storytelling, and this workshop gives arts and humanities researchers and games developers the chance to explore these possibilities further.


If you’re interested in attending you’ll need to act soon – registration closes at the end of this week on the 1st March. Visit the workshop page on Eventbrite to register and find out more.


AHRC Announce Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships

Together We Are by Mommy Peace CC BY-NC-SA 2.0AHRC has recently announced the outcome of its first collaborative doctoral partnerships (CDP) competition. Twelve organisations and consortia with a strong track record in running Collaborative Doctoral Awards (CDAs – joint PhDs between arts, culture and heritage organisations and HEIs) have been successful in this round of funding.

In total 55 CDAs per year will be distributed across the successful CDPs over the next 3 academic years, each of which will be a collaboration between a non-HEI and academic partner.

The full list is below:

Partner Organisation/Consortium Consortium Partners Annual Studentship Cohort Awarded
Science Museum Group Science Museum, Museum of Science
and Industry, National Media Museum,
National Railway Museum York,
National Railway Museum Locomotion
Shildon, BT Archives
The British Museum 7
TATE Includes all Tate Museums 5
British Library 6
Thames Consortium National Maritime Museum, National
Portrait Gallery, National Archives
Victoria and Albert Museum 4
Imperial War Museums 3
National Gallery 3
Glasgow Life Includes all departments and
organisations within Glasgow Life
Scottish Heritage Consortium National Museums Scotland, RCAHMS,
Historic Scotland, National Galleries of
English Heritage Includes all English Heritage branches 3
RGS-IBG and Royal Society Royal Geographical Society (inc
Institute of British Geographers), Royal

The CDP is a new scheme which ran alongside and ahead of the standard CDA call. The idea was to give organisations with a strong track record in the annual CDA call more certainty and ownership over how to allocate and distribute awards. It was created in response to feedback from assessors and applicants in previous rounds of the CDA. The deadline for CDPs was October 2012. The CDA scheme, which this year was limited to two applications per HEI, closed last week.

I’ve got an idea for a CDA: how do I get involved with CDP organisations?

In short, you need to talk to them. AHRC have said they will advertise a list of relevant contacts at each of the institutions/consortia, so that academic staff from universities with potential projects can approach CDPs to discuss further. Most organisations are also carrying out an internal review process to identify potential existing relationships with academia which can be developed within this new tranche of CDAs.

The process of actually securing funding is a little more complex than usual: although the award will actually be made to HEIs, applicants wishing to work with CDPs should contact the organisations directly with project proposals, rather than go through the AHRC. Following this the organisation will approach AHRC with a list of nominated CDA projects and, once approved by AHRC, the HEIs will submit CDA forms via Je-S. All of the award is paid by AHRC directly to the HEI.


Wellcome Trust Hub Award – Medicine & Health intersecting with Humanities & Social Sciences

Science_artAs part of the Wellcome Collection Development Project Wellcome Trust are making available a specially designed, flexible space within the building for a research team to be resident for up to two academic years. The Hub Award is the way teams can apply to use this space and request funding for the project.

The Hub at Wellcome Collection aims to:

  • enable a truly outstanding interdisciplinary team to work on a project that is linked to our vision of improving health and to support this team with all the rich and unique resources the Wellcome Trust has on offer
  • be a pioneering location for creative work that explores what happens when medicine and health intersect with the arts, humanities and social sciences
  • nurture a thriving culture of exchange, in which the public is connected to the innovative ideas of The Hub through a vibrant programme of public engagement
  • foster work that is original, creative, intelligent, impactful and openly accessible
  • catalyse outputs that generate new insights, new forms of engagement, new methodologies, new interventions and new knowledge.

In addition to the use of the space within The Hub, you can apply for funding of up to £1 million over two years. This can include salary costs (or replacement) for your Core Group of around three to five individuals as well as for any associates you may choose to include in your project such as fellows, research assistants, visiting artists or other residencies. It also includes ongoing operational costs such as for equipment, materials, travel, events and public engagement activities.

For further details and how to apply, see the Wellcome Trust website.


AHRC Wants Your Views on Draft Strategy “The Human World”

The AHRC is seeking comments on its recently published draft 5-year strategy, subtitled “The Human World” (presumably as a nod to its emphasis on international collaboration in arts and humanities within the strategy):

AHRC Strategy 2013-2018 draft published for comment

If you want to have your say you’ve got just under a month to fill in and submit their online survey (deadline: 8th November 2012).

In a nutshell: What are the key messages?

The strategy leads off with a series of “affirmations”, statements of intent for the AHRC over the next five years. Bear in mind that this is a strategy, so this is less operationally-focused than the delivery plan released last year. Nevertheless there are useful pointers to AHRC’s future priorities. Amongst the affirmations you’ll find commitments to:

  • “focus on excellence” and “build capacity through partnerships”;
  • support cross-disciplinary research addressing grand challenges (although they are careful not to use that term)
  • increase impact of arts and humanities research to stimulate economic and public benefit
  • enhance the global contribution and reputation of arts and humanities research by cooperating in international funding schemes

At the core of the strategy are six priorities which are unpack throughout the document, these are:

  1. Research: where it goes without saying the emphasis is on funding the best ideas, but also supporting larger, more collaborative projects.
  2. People: there is a threefold agenda here to support PGRs, early career researchers and enable leadership through fellowships and thematic projects
  3. Partnerships and Knowledge Exchange: this is a key part of the strategy and AHRC emphasise the fact that knowledge arises “between” different types of organisations, not just within universities
  4. International: another theme which comes across strongly with an emphasis on co-funding, an example of which can be seen in the recent HERA call
  5. Advocacy and Leadership: an interesting mixture of impact, partnerships and bringing together “dispersed information”
  6. Efficiency: responding to the challenging financial environment

Among the challenges and changes facing the arts and humanities, according to the strategy, is the need to bring researchers together in cross-disciplinary networks and multi-funder partnerships. This is highlighted as one response to the increasing breakdown between old disciplinary barriers, and to ensure that UK research can respond to complex problems and maintain its high status internationally.

There is a (re-)commitment to the 5 thematic areas which have been established over the last few years – Care for the Future, Digital Transformations, Science in Culture, Translating Cultures, and Connected Communities. This is reinforced by recent news that themed large research grants in these areas are now available in these areas.

Among disciplinary areas to be prioritised are: design, heritage, digital technology, and performing arts. These are seen as key areas where formation of partnerships with non-academic bodies can lead to greater impact on the economy and society.


Digital R&D Fund for the Arts

The £7 million Digital R&D Fund for the Arts is a partnership between the Arts Council England, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Nesta.

It will support research and development projects that use digital technology to enhance audience reach and/or explore new business models for organisations with arts projects.

The Fund is open for application 2012-15 (on a rolling application basis), Organisations with arts projects based in England, Technology providers and Researchers or research teams are invited to form collaborative relationships and make joint funding applications.

The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts has been designed to accommodate a range of innovation projects which will include key themes identified in collaboration with the arts sector:

  • User generated content and social media
  • Distribution and exhibition
  • Mobile, location and games
  • Data and archives
  • Resources
  • Education and learning

For further details see the NESTA website or our previous blog post highlighting the launch of the call.


Digital R&D for the Arts Launched

The AHRC, NESTA, and Arts Council England have joined together to launch a £7 million digital R&D fund for the arts.

Arts Digital R&D Fund

The fund will “support research and development projects that use digital technology to enhance audience reach and/or explore new business models for organisations with arts projects.” I’ve included further details on what the fund is looking for and how it will work below.

The fund is open for applications now and there are two upcoming briefing sessions for those who want to find out more about the scheme:

23rd July: Briefing session in Sheffield

2nd August: Briefing session in Brighton

What are they looking for?

The Digital R&D fund has highlighted a number of thematic areas which they want to see addressed under the overarching aim of using digital technologies to enhance arts projects. These are:

  • User generated content and social media: harnessing the power of the internet and social media to reach audiences and to give them a platform for discussion, participation and creativity
  • Distribution and exhibition: using digital technologies to deliver artistic experiences and content in new ways in online and place based environments, including exploring international distribution and exhibition
  • Mobile, location and games: developing a new generation of mobile and location-based experiences and services, including games
  • Data and archives: making archives, collections and other data more widely available to other arts organisations and the general public
  • Resources: using digital technologies to improve the way in which arts organisations are run including business efficiency and income generation and the way in which they collaborate with each other
  • Education and learning: developing interactive education and learning resources for children, teachers, young people, adult learners and arts sector professionals
According to the FAQs on the website the maximum size of project is £125K, but they’re also willing to fund smaller projects. Projects should be up to a year in length. Over and above the funding received, it’s likely that projects under this scheme will accrue other benefits related to engagement, impact and external partnership formation.

How does it work?

The fund supports three-way collaborations between organisations with an arts project, technology providers and researchers. There are further details on the website about what constitutes each of the three categories of project partner. There are three strands for Expressions of Interest relating to the three different partner types eligible for the funding:

Group A: These are proposals for projects where a three-way partnership has already been formed between an organisation with an arts project, technology provider and researcher (at a UK institution eligible to receive AHRC funding). The EoIs under this strand need to be led by an organisation with an arts project and must fall under one of the fund’s thematic areas.

Group B: These are proposals for projects where a two-way partnership has already been formed between an arts project and technology provider, but not a researcher. EoIs under this strand need to be led by an organisation with an arts project and must fall under one of the thematic areas highlighted above. Successful applicants will be required to collaborate on a full proposal with a researcher/research team which has been successful in Group C.

Group C: These are proposals for projects from researchers who have not yet formed a partnership with an arts project or technology provider. EoIs under this strand need to be led by a researcher/research team at a UK institution eligible to receive AHRC funding. Successful researchers will be invited to a one-day collaborative workshop to form partnerships with arts organisations and technology providers who were successful in Group B.

Expression of Interest applications must be made via the correct form and can be made at any time from now until the scheme closes on December 31st 2013. Note that they will take up to 7 weeks to assess EoIs and there are five phases for full stage applications spread throughout the period from now until early 2014 when they are accepting the last full stage bids.


Thinking about impact, collaboration and postgraduate researchers

ASHPIT (Arts, Social Sciences & Humanities Policy and Practice Implementation Thinktank) is holding a think tank day on May 28th at University of Oxford. This will bring together research development professionals with academic staff to talk about themes of collaborating in consortia, impact, and preparing postgraduate researchers for careers in academia.

On impact, the focus will be on linking RCUK impacts articulated in the Pathways to Impact parts of grant applications with REF impacts. This discussion will also inform the theme of engaging postgraduate researchers in academic careers, where the questions will be around how to encourage postgraduates to work ‘impactfully’ in collaboration with academic staff.

Here’s more from the ASHPIT blog:

Speakers will include representatives of the Research Councils, as well as academics and researcher developers, and we hope that the event will provide both useful information about and a forum for discussion of some of the most important facets of those topics.

Those interested in attending the next event should send email details of their name, role and institution to by Friday 11th May, indicating whether or not they require support for travel costs.

The full provisional timetable is available here.


Cultural Encounters – HERAnet Releases €18M Call

HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area – a network of European funders of humanities research) has just released a new call for proposals from researchers in the arts and humanities to address “cultural encounters“. This theme is inherently interdisciplinary and touches on research in history, social change, politics, cultural identity, conflict, communication and economic development. More details on the call are available on the HERAnet website:

HERA Joint Research Programme 2012: Cultural Encounters

The call will fund a consortium of researchers from at least three eligible European countries to carry out a research project over a maximum of 3 years, for up to €1M. UK participants will be funded under standard AHRC rules at 80% of Full Economic Cost. This is a two-stage call and the outline proposals are due by 4th May 2012, 14:00 CET (13:00 GMT). To apply you need to fill in the template form [.doc] and submit via the online HERA submission system.

Because the domain covered by “cultural encounters” is potentially so vast, the call for proposals [.pdf] document picks out three key focus areas, listed below. These are intended as a guide. Applicants are free to address topics which cut across one or more of these areas, or to propose an entirely different approach as long as it falls within the scope of the overall programme:

  1. Cultural Encounters over time and space: “The focus here is on the role of cultural encounters from historical and geographic perspectives, where cultural change may have played a complex role as an agent of, and response to, encounters among people with different languages, literatures, religions, institutions and traditions.”
  2. Social and political dimensions of cultural encounters: “This area focuses on how societies and policies have attempted to manage cultural encounters and diversity in different ways. This may include the analysis of concepts and models of the co-existence of cultural differences from historical, philosophical, theoretical and social perspectives, where phenomena such as migration, displacement, and the formation of multicultural communities will be important. It could include analysis of the cultural and political values that shape these concepts and models, and the institutional structures that support or challenge them.”
  3. Practices of translation, interpretation and mediatisation in relation to cultural encounters: “The third area focuses on how cultural expressions in different forms are interpreted, translated, and/or transformed across cultures, languages and sectors. This spans everyday life as well as professional and artistic practices, and includes virtual encounters on the internet as well as in encounters in real life (e.g., media, museums, literature, art, music). It embraces analysis of cultural texts as well as analysis of behaviour and professional practices in different cultural settings.”

Potential applicants should note that European added value is an important part of the assessment criteria. This means that the research carried out should be of higher quality and have more impact than if it had been a unilateral project. It does not mean all proposals need to address EU-specific topics or themes, although these could of course form part of a research project in this theme.

There is a matchmaking event on 21st February in Berlin to find potential partners for the call, but unfortunately the deadline has passed to be included in that. However, the AHRC are running some of their own UK-based information days on the Cultural Encounters call on the 13th March (Edinburgh) and the 15th March (London). More details are available on the AHRC website.

Please get in touch with us at an early stage if you need advice and guidance on developing an application.


EPSRC Wants Innovative Solutions to Flood Risk

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Council are looking for an interdisciplinary mix of researchers to attend a “sandpit” event on Innovative Solutions to Flood Risk in April 2012.

Sandpits are collaborative residential workshops where small groups of researchers (20-25 people) from a range of disciplines work together over a number of days to generate project proposals for a specified theme. The benefits of taking part are significant: you get to collaborate with other leading researchers on a relevant topic, and there is a relatively high chance of proposed projects being funded. More details are given in the call for participants [PDF]:

The scope of the Sandpit will address the three Risk Themes identified in the report:
• Understanding Risk
• Managing Probablility
• Managing Consequence

It is not expected that these themes will operate in isolation as there are many issues which may be seen to cut across these themes. The Sandpit intends to explore the engineering and physical science aspects of these key areas whilst recognising that this is a multidisciplinary area.

The call document strongly emphasises the fact that EPSRC are not focusing on one particular disciplinary area: “Applications are encouraged from diverse research areas across engineering, physical sciences, natural environment, life sciences, the social sciences and the arts and humanities”. Nor is track record in flood risk management or engineering solutions to flooding essential to success: “Please note that we are not looking for your academic publication or research track record but rather evidence of how you might approach multidisciplinary problems in a novel area.”

The assessment is based on the following criteria:

  • The ability to develop new, adventurous and highly original research ideas
  • The potential to contribute to research at the interface between disciplines
  • The ability to work in a team
  • The ability to explain research to non experts

To participate you need to fill in a two-page expression of interest form and send to by 20th February 2012.