Conserving and Sharing Community Media: The Connected Communities Collection (CCC)

Lead Research Organisation: Northumbria University
Department Name: Fac of Arts, Design and Social Sciences


This project is to build an archive to store and share media produced under the auspices of the AHRC's Connected Communities (CC) programme, with linked guidance for researching with communities using media and the means of branding the outputs of this research as part of this archive. Across the Connected Communities (CC) programme, many projects are producing media, either to document their work or as a more integral part of addressing their research questions. Projects are using media in different ways leaving a legacy of documentary material, some of which may be useful for communities themselves, some for researchers on related projects and some offering potential for future historical investigation. Further, the Connected Communities programme is coinciding with a time of rapid change in media forms and uses of production and distribution tools, so this last audience of future historians could find themselves in possession of a contemporary Mass Observation archive of tweets, blogs, audio and video pieces, showing everyday life and the permeation and perturbation of media in the decade of 2009-2018 and on.

The media output of the CC programme is substantial, with nearly 200 projects to date and rising, many of whom are producing some documentation in audio-visual digital form. But, as things stand, even resources which are intended to be shown and used by research and community audiences are fractured. Most projects are working unilaterally. While this independence is entirely appropriate during the research process, aggregating CC outputs on completion of these artefacts would offer greater visibility of related work to members of the programme, while promoting the outputs more generally to communities interested in the potential to express themselves and see what others have achieved. It would be possible to exploit opportunities for learning, to develop synergies and potential for impact by assembling this work, drawing out links, storing it in a long-term, non-proprietary home and branding it clearly as an output intended to support and inform community development.

This project builds an archive to give a long-term home to these media and also produces guidance in the production, storage and sharing of media made with communities. It looks at ethical, legal and practical matters so that sensitivity can be shown to making media, and then an audience can be found any pieces that are appropriate for sharing. Community partner, the Community Media Association, is firmly embedded among community radio and TV producers and will conduct much of the work in consultation with the research team and the wider research and community context in which the Connected Communities programme operates.

Planned Impact

The archive and guidance is as much aimed at communities interested in documenting their practices and at broadcasters as it is at academics.

Light (2011), a study commissioned by the Community Media Association (partnered to this project - see letter), showed that community radio makes few programmes that are not based on individuals' talk and music with the occasional phone in. In other words, most programming is live. However, where recorded arts/community material exists it is used enthusiastically by the radio stations and enjoyed by the listeners to these stations, especially where there is a local connection. The CMA is already in the process of making programmes available nationally through its GetMedia website, which will be developed to have a Connected Communities channel.

For community audiences, the media collection can be inspiration for what is possible and the guidance gives a framework for preparing it.

For broadcasters, as noted, the archive provides highly visible material that might interest local people in their catchments.

The visibility of community media can have the longer term effect of showing how communities can have agency in representing themselves and sharing best practice.

Light, A. (2011) Community Media Association's Connect Project: an Independent Evaluation - an assessment of community radio and how do develop it using socially engaged arts practice.


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Title Media Collection 
Description Connected Communities Media Collection houses the media outputs of the CCP as uploaded and labelled by the different research teams, following making media with and about communities. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact This is still emerging, though it was used as one part of the application for capital spend from BIS this summer. 
Description The project has provided a means of linking all media output from the CC programme to preserve it, promote it and make it accessible to its multiple potential audiences of researchers, community groups and broadcasters. It has also brought together guidance on media-making practice for researchers working with communities from ethical, legal and practical perspectives.
Exploitation Route We are working with the Connected Communities research community and the funding council to find ways of integrating the collection and the guidance more fully into the programme and exploring its value to wider communities.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy

Description We have early signs that the presence of resources that can be used in community media and by community media stations is raising the profile of programme making and arts programming. With the Connected Communities programme, there is growing awareness of the resources, the potential to use media and the need for support in doing so.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy
Impact Types Cultural

Description Archive engagement event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact The engagement day was aimed at bringing in a diverse group of potential stakeholders who could suggest or provide a future for the media collection produced by the project and some further uses for it. Many ideas were forthcoming from academics, community representatives, archive specialists and research council.

These are still being processed and solicited as they event took place two weeks before this submission.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014