Creative Engagement Fellowship

The Creative Engagement Fellowship was developed to demonstrate the benefits of collaborative partnerships between the arts and research to enhance engagement within research.
The interdisciplinary collaborations allow for greater diversity and inclusion within studies, ultimately making research more accessible. While the Fellowship champions the importance of engagement within research, it also provides open spaces for early career researchers and developing artists to exchange vital skills. 

The Fellowship was developed through the work accomplished by U.matter, an engagement project focused on supporting community health, and funding supplied by the Wellcome Trust’s Institutional Strategic Support Fund, which supports research within health and biomedical sciences towards interdisciplinary research and public engagement.
In 2021, Phase 1 was launched exploring the topics of either ‘Racial Equity 2020’ or ‘Beyond Ableist’. Each project was selected based on their ability to allow co-creation and adhere to the core themes. Phase 2 is underway in 2022 with 5 projects over 6 months – learn more about them below.

Creative Engagement Fellowship: Phase 2

Phase 2 aims to build upon what we learned through Phase 1, this includes extending the original timeframe from 3 months to 6 months, increasing the funding opportunities to £10k per project.

For the scheme, each project is proposed by the academic but developed with the creative practitioner for effective public engagement. The creative practitioner will be found through our staff at Attenborough Arts Centre, utilising our networks of working artists across Leicestershire and the UK.

Although each project has freedom within their approach to their projects and areas of study, each project must create a digital output at the end of the 6 months. Explore our 5 Fellowship projects below as we update their findings and work as the months go by.

Everywhere & Nowhere: Exploring Histories of Disability Across the National Trust

Researchers: Sarah Plumb, Richard Sandell, Suzanne MacLeod
Artist: Christopher Samuel

“The project asks: How can we identify histories of disability across National Trust sites and present them in ethically informed ways that enrich everyone’s understanding of both our sites’ histories and their contemporary resonance? How can we carry out this work ethically and inclusively, placing expertise derived from lived experience of disability at the heart of the process? How can we share disability stories in ways that reflect leading edge accessibility practice? The Fellowship will centre on collaborative processes of ethically, equitably and creatively re-interpreting and presenting these histories of disability in the form of a digital public facing output.”

Learn more about the project and its outcomes by clicking here.

Exploring Cultural and Traditional Perceptions of Natural Remedy Use in Leicester based South Asian Communities 

Researchers: Shabana Cassambai, Leonardi Sophie, Nasima Miah
Artist: Azraa Motala

“One of the key aspects of engaging with patients and carers from ethnic minority backgrounds, such as South Asians (SAs), is being able to understand and relate to cultural and traditional practices. In order to engage with this community and understand why medication adherence is often so low, it is important to understand the motivation behind the use of these natural remedies and how it affects their decision making process when it relates to management of their diabetes. This project proposes to produce an engaging piece of artwork, which centralises community discussions and links researchers to South Asian (SA) communities, with the aim to build long lasting relationships with these communities.”

Addressing ethnic participation biases in human genomics

Researchers: Noemi-Nicole Piga, Chiara Batini, Barbara Czyznikowska, Winifred Ekezie, Katherine Fawcett, Laura Venn
Artist: Vishal Joshi

“Human genomics studies show a typical participant profile: white, female and middle aged. Participants of European ancestry constitute ~79% of the samples despite being only ~16% of the global population. Reasons for this bias may have roots in several factors including structural racism, socio-economic classism, exploitation, insufficient cultural competence among researchers, and general lack of trust. This multifaceted lack of diversity makes it difficult to translate discoveries into personalised healthcare and precision medicine for underserved populations, exacerbating existing health inequalities. Being the second ethnic minority in Leicester, we want to understand the perceptions of Black communities about taking part in genomic research. We believe art can be a common language to enable a fair dialogue between researchers and participants.”

Geoscience in Pixels

Researchers: Ed Thomas, Anna McGairy, Manlin Zhang
Artist: Rosa Francesca

“An exploration of digital techniques and technologies in the geosciences and how they can be used to remove barriers to participation for people with mental health conditions, learning difficulties and the neurodiverse. Through the theme of palaeontology in particular; can examples be set which build digital confidence in the museum and heritage sector, improve inclusivity in the geosciences, and lead to a more creative and innovative research culture?.”

Geoscience in Pixels is matchfunded by the University of Leicester’s Institute for Digital Culture, led by Professor Ross Parry.

“The institute looks to how we interact with culture and heritage today, leading the global shift to socially transformative museums and heritage to transform how we tell our history. Partnership and collaboration are key; the institute will work with the Arts Council England, and the Smithsonian Institution (the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex).”

Long Covid Stories

Researchers: Chris Brightling
Artist: Anthony Overend, Isobel Hoskins, and Michal Lach from GraffWerk

“Long COVID is an emergent condition and as such, is poorly understood. Working with an artists we can offer participants effected by long COVID an opportunity to express their thoughts, feelings and experiences through a different media potentially in the absence of established modes of expression that are accessible to people learning to live with a better understood condition or disability.”

To learn more about Phase 1 of the Creative Engagement Fellowship and the projects we supported, click here to read our Final Report on Phase 1 of the scheme on the University of Leicester Figshare.

To the left, watch the completed webinar by Dr Marie Nugent on Phase 1 of the Creative Engagement Fellowship scheme.