A critical review of the Creative Partnerships archive: How was cultural value understood, researched and evidenced?

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Education


Creative Partnerships (CP) was the biggest and longest running arts and education intervention in the world. It operated in England from 2002-2011 and worked intensively with over 2,700 schools, 90,000 teachers and over 1 million young people. It touched 1 in 4 schools in the country, and over 6,500 national arts and creativity organisations were involved in CP. Because 70% of the funding went to support creative practitioners, Price Waterhouse Coopers estimated that each CP£1 generated £15.3 of economic value.

CP produced an enormous range of artefacts, ranging from literature reviews, research reports, publicity and promotional materials, demonstrations in the form of films and posters, to the annual plans and evaluation reports that each funded school had to submit. To date there has been no analysis of this material to assess what understandings it might have to offer. The archive, now housed at The University of Nottingham, has the potential to contribute further to international understandings about creativity, culture, reform, learning and organizational change.

CP understood itself as making a cultural offer. It supported teachers and young people in extended cultural experiences - working on a project with an artist (for example a dancer, sculptor, film-maker, story-maker) or a company (from the Royal Shakespeare Company to a local community arts organization) or a public institution such as a gallery, library or museum. It was presumed that through these projects young people would both learn creatively and learn to be creative. Within CP there were strongly held views that the cultural offer supported children and young people to develop imagination, critical and reflective thinking, leadership, confidence and motivation, wellbeing and a strong sense of responsible empowerment. They were thus able to learn successfully, act as good citizens in their schools and communities and were prepared for 21st century life work and life (Thomson et al. 2009).

This project will systematically examine, for the first time, the CP archive in order to see what its literature reviews, research reports and annual plans and evaluation reports might have to offer the AHRC cultural value rubric. As its considerable body of research used highly diverse approaches, this project will use an interpretative approach to critically assess a range of key texts. The project will investigate and document how a cultural experience was understood, and what methodologies and methods were used to investigate CP's cultural offer and the cultural experience of teachers and young people, and will show what kind of data the various approaches produced. On this basis, the project will then offer an assessment of the value of particular kinds of research methodologies and methods, and identity any areas for possible further investigation. It will also offer a synthesis of the various ways in which cultural experience was theorised.

The PI for this project is uniquely positioned to undertake this work. She directed the largest national CP research project on school change, was commissioned to produce a literature review on change, and directed two other research projects funded by CP.The signature pedagogies project is one of three legacy projects which offer ongoing information about artists working in schools. She has co-edited an international handbook, a research methods text and a book series for teachers on creative learning, together with more than twenty peer reviewed papers.

Thomson, P., Jones, K. and Hall, C., 2009. Creative whole school change. Final report. London: Creativity, Culture and Education; Arts Council England. See also http://www.artsandcreativityresearch.org.uk.

Planned Impact

Many organisations, artists and schools who were involved with CP are curious about what might come from the various projects that they were involved in; they hope that its lessons will be remembered rather than be victim to policy amnesia. There are loose national networks of such people connected via interlocking social media, community organisations and personal associations. The PI is well connected with these networks.

Key regional and national cultural organisations such Arts Council, Cultural Learning Alliance, the RSA, bridging organisations and key community arts companies, all of whom were involved in CP, have been tasked or have volunteered to carry on its work. Importantly, it is not narrowly educational work that they seek to maintain and extend, but rather the more general cultural offer and the emphasis on creativity. Galleries, museums, community arts organisations and national priority arts organisations more than ever see education as an arena in which they need to be active: education has become a key priority for many cultural organisations. As such the review will offer a missing synthesis of the learnings of the CP programme to inform their current work. it will provide robust evidence of impact and benefits, as well as a highly useful assessment of the potentials of various research methodologies. Both of these critical review 'products' will be of immediate and longer term use to the sector.

The review will achieve this impact by producing:
(1) a very readable summary of key aspects of CP's works, specifically around the notion of a cultural offer, cultural value and evaluative and research approaches,
(2) a community oriented research and evaluation approaches summary available in downloadable pdf form from the project blogsite; this will connect to relevant web based resources on research methods
(3)a project wordpress blog, linked to a range of university websites and the PI's own blog and twitter account. The blog will be publicized via social media, community organisations and personal associations,
(4) a para-professional publication will also be produced for an appropriate outlet: the timing is such that the proposed new TATE learning open access journal with which the PI is associated, may well be operational by the end of the project.
(5) press releases will also be issued via the Nottingham marketing team should the results of the critical review be of sufficient general public interest.
All materials wil be available on the CCE website, and the PI's own website.

The PI also hopes to work with the AHRC cultural value project to bring the findings of the critical review to the attention of key international bodies including the NEA in the USA, and the OECD which has an ongoing interest in creativity and education.


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Description The archive analysis showed robust research evidence of the impact of creative practitioners in schools in 'soft' areas such as citizenship, wellbeing, work-related learning, motivation and participation. Teachers learning also appears to be validated through sponsored research. There was less robust evidence about students learning and a missed opportunity to research the specific effects of arts learning.
Exploitation Route The study points to the need for longitudinal studies of the learning of students and teachers in and through the arts.
The evidence of 'soft' learning including vocationally oriented skills, will be of interest to those in the creative industries.
Sectors Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://cparchive.wordpress.com
Description The study has been presented to the Warwick Commission on cultural value. It has also been presented to Creativity, Culture and Education, the organisation that runs Creative Partnerships. Both bodies will use the findings of this study in their wider policy recommendations. Findings about citizenship were presented to the recent Creative Citizens conference where attention was drawn to the lack of connection by the CP programme and its researchers with the wider literatures on citizenship and democracy, and with international approaches to youth participation. The study is now cited by people such as the Cultural Learning Alliance and RSA in support of advocacy for arts education.
Sector Creative Economy
Impact Types Cultural

Description Arts Council Research Grants
Amount £296,000 (GBP)
Organisation Arts Council England 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2015 
End 09/2018
Description ESRC CASE studentship
Amount £76,000 (GBP)
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2016 
End 09/2020
Description ESRC collaborative studentship
Amount £8,900 (GBP)
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Department ESRC CDRC
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 09/2021
Description Nottingham Contemporary arts learning 
Organisation Nottingham Contemporary
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution ESRC CASE studentship to examine learning outcomes associate with teacher CPD in gallery. Addressee the gap in research identified in the review. \
Collaborator Contribution Co -supervision, nomination of research sites, negotiation with sites.
Impact None yet
Start Year 2016
Description Tracking Arts Learning and Engagement 
Organisation Royal Shakespeare Company
Department Education Department
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We are three partners in a longitudinal study of outcomes of teacher CPD with the two arts organisations
Collaborator Contribution They share project governance, have dominated and liaised with sites. Both are offering additional networking for teachers involved in the TALE project
Impact Nothing to day other than blog posts.
Start Year 2015
Description Tracking Arts Learning and Engagement 
Organisation Tate
Department Tate Education and IT
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We are three partners in a longitudinal study of outcomes of teacher CPD with the two arts organisations
Collaborator Contribution They share project governance, have dominated and liaised with sites. Both are offering additional networking for teachers involved in the TALE project
Impact Nothing to day other than blog posts.
Start Year 2015
Description Conference presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Australian Association for Research i Education, November 2017. Audience included teachers, artists and academics. Paper is now in press in an academic book, Creativity Policy, Partnerships and Practice in Education, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017