Create, Connect and Sustain

Lead Research Organisation: Sheffield Hallam University
Department Name: Faculty of Arts Computing Eng and Sci


This project brings together social enterprises that use creative practice as a way of promoting sustainable soicial development, together with art, design and community researchers.

Working in partnership, we shall design and execute a collaborative research project around a shared set of concerns.

Recognising that creative practitioners are often more comfortable communicating through and around their work than they are using abstract language to discuss research design, we shall be using creative practices as a way of opening up our discussions of the domain, exploring the priorities of the different stakeholders, and developing our detailed research plan.

Planned Impact

The immediate beneficiaries of this research will be:
* The professionals (& the academics) involved as partners who will develop skills and knowledge
* The networks within which those partners operate;
* The geographical communities that community partners serve in Leeds and London;

Sharing learning across academic and practice based communities will be integral to the design of the project, and there will be immediate impact of co-developing a shared research practice between the academic researchers and the participating organisations, developing deep connectionsand enhancing the research capacity of all partners. The experience will enable partners to develop their practice as participatory community research professionals and to share that learning with other professionals and organisations in their extensive networks.

In the medium term, (non academic) beneficiaries are likely to be other Social Enterprises, particularly those that are centred around creative practice, but also to others who may be may see the potential to use creative practice as part of their mode of working. Additionally, the novel approach that we are adopting to co-design, co-research and co-production will serve as a model for other Academic / Social Enterprise collaborations enhancing the potential for Arts & Humanities research to contribute to social development.

We will achieve this by disseminating our collaboration model, our reflections and our findings during phase 2 of the project. We will do this by connecting to events and social media used by major Social Enterprise networks e.g.: The School for Social Entrepreneurs, UnLtd, Co-opsUK, the Plunkett Foundation and SocialEnterpriseUK. We will also present findings via groups associated with sustainability issues (e.g. Transition Towns). These routes will provide the opportunity for major impact, given the recognised importance of Social Enterprise in achieving the social transformation that the UK needs, and the strong links from these networks to policy making.

In the long term, this research will ultimately contribute to the nation's health, wealth and culture, and the aims of the Connected Communities programme by:
* Enhancing quality of life, health and creative output through increasing the creative and research capacity of Social Enterprise in general;
* Developing support networks of organisations and professionals around the UK sharing learning and collaborating in co-research and in Creative Social Enterprise;
* Improving the economic competitiveness of two urban centres by stimulating creative and sustainable social enterprise;
* Increasing the effectiveness of public policy through better understanding of the potential of creative social enterprise to engage people in sustainable activities and trade.


10 25 50
Description There is a large and diverse group of micro organisations working who combine creative, community and sustainability goals. These organisations are highly valued by the communities where they work and the organisations that we worked with were able to gather substantial evidence of the positive impact that they were achieving. These micro-organisations would welcome support to enable them to meet, exchange ideas and develop their research capacity. Small investments by policy makers in this sector could result in significant benefits.
Exploitation Route This sector has significant potential to provide social benefits, but is currently underresearched.

We are now taking the results forwards in collaboration with fair trade craft businesses and with design researchers in Indonesia
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Retail

Description The legacy for Antiform is threefold in: the opportunity to better connect with their community and further develop a two-way dialogue about the deeper issues they are addressing; allowing Antiform to develop tools and methods for this type of inquiry, which can be built on in the future; and providing key insights into Antiform's impact, creating a foundation on which to develop the project's future. For Makerhood This research has had multiple benefits for Makerhood. It provided insight into why and how people engage with Makerhood and their motivations around making in the community. This is valuable for understanding impact, planning future activities and providing evidence to stakeholders. It has supported reflection on what making means to members and supported the growth of shared understandings. It has tested integration of research into Makerhood's ongoing activity which Makerhood will use in future. And it has connected Makerhood to a range of peers that will help strengthen its work.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Retail,Other
Impact Types Societal,Economic

Description AHRC Follow on funding for Impact
Amount £24,000 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/P006035/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2016 
End 10/2017
Description NESTA Digital R&D fund
Amount £38,620 (GBP)
Organisation Nesta 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2014 
End 03/2014