Taking Yourselves Seriously

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Education

Abstract

This project aims to create useful knowledge from a research project called 'Co-producing Legacy' that looked at what artistic understandings and knowledge contributed to research within the Connected Communities programme. The original project found that ways of doing things from artistic practice could inform community oriented research. These ways of doing things include methodologies that were founded on tacit, experiential, visual and linguistic knowledges that are open to change and can be experimental. Artists can produce paintings, write poems and create sculptures; they can also challenge or question how people think about the world and approach everyday experience from a 'slant' perspective. Methodologies stemming from these approaches can enable the production of poetry, visual art and film as outputs as well as create a questioning space where failure, experimentation and different ways of knowing are brought to the fore. These could be described as 'methods' but not in a social scientific mode of enquiry. Artistic methodologies might be open -ended, non consensus seeking and involve tacit and materially situated forms of knowledge creation. We are going to trial these methodologies within three projects with a focus on social cohesion within communities, and explore how research methods generated from creative and artistic sources can support and enable community researchers to do their own research. We will be producing resources from our work with three projects drawing on the 'Co-producing Legacy' research project, but with a new focus on social cohesion.

The project team will work collaboratively with a national community research organisation, ARVAC (the Association for Research in the Voluntary and Community Sector) together with social cohesion experts from Sheffield City Council and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council to embed artistic methodologies into community research through a series of focused projects. The projects will take place in a school in central Rotherham, a community context (British Asian Women's groups) and an adventure playground in Pitsmoor in Sheffield, UK.

The aim is to support sustainable and participatory research within communities that draws on artistic methodologies. The outcome will be a set of downloadable resources on the ARVAC website that can inform community researchers about the potential of this sort of research and ways of approaching such research, drawing on case studies and providing concrete examples of practice so that researchers can try out their own ideas.
This resource will be disseminated through the national networks that ARVAC can supply together with experts within the field of social cohesion. Our aim is to create a resource that disseminates the power and value of artistically informed research within communities to new audiences and can enable community and voluntary groups concerned about social cohesion to conduct their own research and disseminate this within communities.

Planned Impact

1. Community researchers from the voluntary and community sector who wish to do research within communities but lack access to resources that inform them about artistic methodologies will benefit from the research. The most common methodologies that are most recognised in non academic i.e. community settings include questionnaires, interviews and case studies alongside quantitative surveys. Methodologies that draw on artistic notions of research, e.g. experimentation, uncertainty, visual and experiential knowledge and ways of knowing that are divergent and complex are less commonly understood outside universities. This project aims to draw on knowledge created in the 'Co-producing Legacy' project in order to support researchers in communities do research that benefits their communities. Our resources for community researchers will be produced in collaboration with the project team and developed and written for clarity and ease of reading by RA Goldstraw, who links to the partner organisation, ARVAC (The Association for Research in the Community and Voluntary Sector).
2. ARVAC will benefit, by having access to a body of knowledge that adds to their existing toolkit: 'Community Research: Getting Started' which provides researchers with ideas about ways of approaching research in community contexts. ARVAC aims to act as a resource for people interested in research in or on community organisations. This project will enable such researchers to access artistic methodologies.
3. The research will benefit schools who work with diverse pupils who wish to create innovative projects that support social cohesion through language. We have chosen to focus specifically on social cohesion following widespread concern after the Brexit vote and in the context of increased migration within the communities where we have chosen to work. The projects are all concerned with social cohesion across sites, spaces and generations and will generate research based knowledge that to support others to do similar research and carry out similar projects. Our aim is to produce resources, available on the project website to support schools who wish to develop ways of working in this way. Co-I Mcmillan will be instrumental in developing these resources.
4. We will also develop resources to support researchers working with British Asian women who wish to create an alternative language of success through artistic methodologies. A book of ideas on artistic methods to support narratives of identity with British Asian women will be produced with Co-I Rasool.
5. HEI's who work with community researchers to do co-produced research will benefit. During the year ARVAC aim to hold a number of regional based events in partnership with HEIs including Manchester Metropolitan University, Nottingham Trent University, University of East Anglia, University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University, Edge Hill University and through their connections with academic partners universities in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the other English regions. In addition through their trustees they have direct access to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), a number of CVS organisations and the Voluntary Sector Studies Network. The University of Sheffield has links with N8 work on Co-production.
Community researchers will have access to resources that support artistic and creative types of research. The three projects will be able to trial approaches that are artistic including poetry, visual art, film and stories, in order to find out how the arts can support social cohesion. In their letter of support, ARVAC confirmed that the resulting research resources will be disseminated by them and they will be keen to make other researchers aware of the work. The resulting resources will be useful for schools, community groups, youth groups and researchers working in diverse communities who wish to undertake innovative community research.

Publications

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Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
AH/P009573/1 01/02/2017 31/12/2017 £79,535
AH/P009573/2 Transfer AH/P009573/1 01/01/2018 31/01/2018 £16,799
 
Title Adventure Playground - Film by Steve Pool 
Description This film describes the 'Taking Yourself Seriously' project at the Pitsmoor Adventure Playground. It gives a feel for the positive context of the project and the relationship between artistic methods and social cohesion in action. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact This film has been watched by policy makers and funders. New funding from the Big Lottery was secured from this project. 
URL http://takingyourselfseriously.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/adventure-playground-film.html
 
Title Adventure Playground - pleasure palaces 
Description This was a film that was produced in responses to the 'Fun Palaces' movement, during the time of the 'Taking Yourself Seriously' project. It was based at Pitsmoor Adventure Playground and made by artist Steve Pool. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact The film has had 40 views on YouTube. 
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvZYIIcmxa4
 
Title Booklet - 'Taking Yourself Seriously' 
Description This was a booklet put together by the young people in the Taking Yourself Seriously school project. This included poetry and art work by the young people. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The headteacher came and admitted that he had not realised how wonderful the project was, and how much it had improved the confidence of the young people. He invited us back to talk to his senior management team. 
 
Description This project was a follow- on project from an original project that looked at how artists work within communities. These are our key findings on this project:At the end of the project, the project team gathered together in Sheffield to reflect on the findings and to consider what we learned. We were joined by a Trustee, from ARVAC. We came together as one group, enacting social cohesion in practice. You can see the visual record of the writing retreat on the ARVAC project pages. The purpose of the writing retreat was to explore what everyone had been working on and how it all fits together. It was an opportunity to listen to each other and to hopefully learn more together about the ways in which artistic methodologies can inform social cohesion.
Towards the end of the retreat we developed reflective points that we felt would be helpful to others who might want to develop their arts based practice to encourage social cohesion. These reflective points, in the collaborative and discursive manner in which the Taking Yourselves Seriously Project is themed were developed as a group and reflect the collective thoughts of the Taking Yourselves Seriously writing retreat team.
We have used the thinking on this project to develop a new GCRF/AHRC network called, Belonging and Learning: using participatory arts with street connected and refugee young people in Uganda, Kenya and Democratic Republic of Congo' which explores the use of arts methodologies with street-connected and refugee young people. We have also put the findings from the project on the ARVAC website.
Exploitation Route We would like community workers to think carefully about employing artists in instrumental ways, and instead listen and work with artists to realise shared objectives.We also advocate linking BAME artists in community contexts with wider networks to support them. Safe spaces can only be created if the project teams are able to articulate and share values, but room for disagreement is important. Co-production is key to community cohesion. Working with artistic methods can help us think about the following:
? Issues of power and trust in communities
? Whose knowledge counts?
? Where do we locate our understanding? In our bodies, and feelings?
? How can the arts build reflective practice in communities?
We have argued that the arts offer the potential to explore divergent and experiential ways of knowing that policy makers might learn from.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Education

URL http://arvac.org.uk/projects/
 
Description We have briefed the Office for Civil Society at the DCMS with some of our findings concerning the marginalisation of BAME artists within communities and the need to create support networks for those artists. We sent a submission to the Lords Select Committee on the social impact of participation in culture and sport. Our work has been visible on the ARVAC (Association for Research in the Voluntary and Community Sector) website. We have also briefed officers from the Big Lottery and the Big Local research teams. Our work has influenced the direction of the Cohesion, Migration and Integration Strategic Group (chaired by the chief exec of Sheffield City Council). We have also briefed in person members of the Lords Select Committee on Civic Engagement. We did this in person and through their online submission process. In the school where we conducted the project, the children produced a book and we have been invited to brief the senior leadership team of the school about the project. In the adventure playground a new piece of play equipment was built as a result of the project, from external funding. In the Muslim women's group a new book has been produced for use in adult and community education across Rotherham. We have briefed the 'Stronger Communities' forum in Rotherham. We also put the whole project on the ARVAC website for use by other researchers.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Funding for play equipment for Pitsmoor Adventure Playground
Amount £3,540 (GBP)
Funding ID A4465 
Organisation South Yorkshire's Community Foundation 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2017 
End 12/2017
 
Description Collaboration with the Sheffield City Council Cohesion Advisory Board 
Organisation Sheffield City Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The Taking Yourselves Seriously project worked with Mike Fitter Co-chair of Sheffield Cohesion Advisory Group and Strategic Adviser and Enabler to Cohesion Sheffield. He was the convenor of the Critical Thinking Group that worked with the Taking Yourself Seriously project and helped steer its course. The work done on this project informed work done within Sheffield.
Collaborator Contribution Mike Fitter and his colleagues Waheed Akhter and Mubarak Hassan brought an understanding of some of the challenges facing the City of Sheffield during the time of the Taking Yourself Seriously project. Information about the Taking Yourself Seriously project was disseminated to wider colleagues at an event at the Circle, in Sheffield, in July 2017.
Impact We have a co-created report from our last away day which is up on the Web and reported elsewhere. Colleagues from Cohesion Sheffield report that TYS developed and focused their ideas about enablers and barriers to a cohesive city. In particular, the session on "Exploring what social cohesion means to us" was said to be creative and significant. This fed into local government thinking and policy via Cohesion Sheffield (www.cohesionsheffield.co.uk) - and in particular through Panni Loh (Development Coordinator) and Mike Fitter (Strategic Advisor). A particular influence of Cohesion Sheffield has been the response to the government Green Paper on Integration on behalf of the city council and partners across all sectors - see http://www.cohesionsheffield.co.uk/documents/. Also significant has been the development of partnership working within and across sectors in line with the principles of the Cohesion Strategic Framework - an example of this in a challenging area of work is the consortium of community anchor organisations, joined by Pitsmoor Adventure Playground (PAP), in a successful funding bid to set up a VCS-led Community / Youth Development project. This will help develop the evidence base leading to establishing multi agency incident response with a skilled and connected workforce. TYS collaborations enabled sharing learning from PAP and to recognising its contribution locally and wider.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Partnership with ARVAC (The Association for research in the voluntary and community sector) 
Organisation Association Research in the Voluntary and Community Sector
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This was a partnership that involved the following:1. Regular meetings with key people within ARVAC including Sharon Hutchings and Jayne Humm. 2. Events that were co-orgsnied including a seminar in May held at the University of Sheffield and a writing retreat held in Sheffield in December. 3. Regular blog posts that informed the project team and the ARVAC team, hosted on the ARVAC website. 4. A dissemination strategy that informed policy initiatives such as the Big Local.
Collaborator Contribution ARVAC hosted the Taking Yourself Seriously blog posts during the year of the project. Key findings were disseminated from this website.
Impact The project collaboration resulted in an awareness of the potential of the arts to create safe spaces in communities and to empower young people.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Blog post on the 'ARVAC' Website - Using artefacts to stimulate memories 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a blog post that described, for the ARVAC audience, work that used objects to stimulate discussions and oral histories with three generations of Muslim women.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://arvac.org.uk/using-artefacts-to-reimagine-memory/
 
Description Blog post on the 'Taking Yourself Seriously' project describing the writing retreat for the ARVAC website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This blog post for the ARVAC website presented the findings from the Writing Retreat held in Sheffield in 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://arvac.org.uk/writing-retreat-for-taking-yourselves-seriously/
 
Description Blog post on the ARVAC blog - young people's research activity 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This blog post is concerned with the findings of the 'Taking Yourself Seriously' project with a particular focus on the young people's project in a school.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://arvac.org.uk/inside-outside-outside-inside/
 
Description Blog post on the ARVAC website - Using artistic methodologies with Muslim women 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a blog post that explored how artistic methodologies had been used with Muslim women on the 'Taking Yourself Seriously' project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://arvac.org.uk/artistic-methodologies-to-explore-muslim-womens-layered-experience-of-identity-i...
 
Description Blog post on the ARVAC website: Creating a legacy 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This blog post was part of the partnership with 'ARVAC' by which the findings of the 'Taking Yourselves Seriously' project were disseminated on the ARVAC website.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://arvac.org.uk/taking-yourself-seriously-creating-a-legacy/
 
Description Co-Creating Cities and Communities 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a workshop run by the 'Taking Yourself Seriously' team for the 'Co-Creating Cities and Communities' event in Bristol in July 2017. A number of members of third sector organisations came and the discussion sparked a number of reflections on the nature of community cohesion, arts methodologies and adventure playgrounds.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://connected-communities.org/index.php/about/co-creating-cities-and-communities-conference/
 
Description Exploring what social cohesion means to us 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact 'Exploring What Social Cohesion Means to us' - generated at initial residential - used to inform Cohesion, Migration and Integration Strategic Group (chair is chief exec of Sheffield City Council)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Findings from the literature review - Blog Post on the ARVAC website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact This was our summary of our findings from the Literature Review. The summary was put on on the ARVAC website.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://arvac.org.uk/reviewing-the-themes-from-the-taking-yourselves-seriously-project/
 
Description How Do We Hold Divergent Voices Together? Blog post for the 'Taking Yourself Seriously' project. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a blog post that described the 'Co-Creating Cities and Communities' workshop that was held in Bristol in July 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://arvac.org.uk/how-do-we-hold-divergent-voices-together/
 
Description Introduction to the "taking Yourself Seriously' project on the ARVAC website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This is a description of the 'Taking Yourself Seriously' project which was placed on the ARVAC website.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://arvac.org.uk/projects/
 
Description Presentation to members of the House of Lords select committee on civic engagement 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The event involved a visit by members of the House of Lords on the 16th November to Sheffield. This was organised by Professor Mathew Flinders. who were involved in the Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement. Two members of the 'Taking Yourself Seriously' project met the Lords in a school in Pitsmoor in Sheffield. They were able to discuss key aspects of the project, and to explain some of the findings. There was an interesting discussion about the nature of social cohesion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/citizenship-and-civ...
 
Description Presentation to members of the social cohesion team, Rotherham MBC September 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This was a presentation by Mike Fitter, from the Taking Yourselves Seriously project, about the findings of the project, to members of the social cohesion team at Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Seminar on the 'Taking yourself Seriously' project in partnership with ARVAC 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a workshop hosted by the University of Sheffield which was co-organised by ARVAC (The Association for Research in the Voluntary and Community Sector). It involved showing a film about the Pitsmoor Adventure Playground and disseminating the key emerging findings. Discussion and questions about the project was lively.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://arvac.org.uk/blog-2-taking-yourselves-seriously-artistic-approaches-to-social-cohesion/
 
Description Showcase event at the school 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact This was a showcase event for the 'Taking Yourself Seriously' project. The children involved made a booklet which was handed to staff members. The staff came and admired the art work and the presentations. The headteacher invited the Taking Yourself Seriously team to present at a meeting of his Senior Management team. He reported a change in his opinions about the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Submission to the Lords Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic engagement 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This was provided in response to a request for a submission for written evidence on citizenship and civic engagement from the House of Lords select committee, in September 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/citizenship-and-civ...
 
Description Taking Yourself Seriously - What Do We know? Blog post on the ARVAC website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a blog post for the ARVAC website exploring the nature of knowledge creation practices on the 'Taking Yourself Seriously' website.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://arvac.org.uk/taking-yourselves-seriously-what-do-we-know/
 
Description Taking Yourself Seriously blog post on the TYS website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact This was the Website and Blog of the 'Taking Yourself Seriously' project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://wordpress.com/post/takingyourselfseriously.wordpress.com/108
 
Description Taking Yourself Seriously final report disseminated by the Connected Communities website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was the Taking Yourself Seriously final report from their final Awayday, which was disseminated on the 'Connected Communities' programme website.It was also tweeted to over 2000 followers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://connected-communities.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/tyswritingretreat2017ia-final-web.pdf