How do you approach place-based work?

Published: 24 November 2022

As we launch our programme questionnaire, Liz Robson explains why an open Call for Evidence is an integral part of our research into how the Arts and Humanities contribute to place-based work.

As we launch our programme questionnaire, Liz Robson explains why an open Call for Evidence is an integral part of our research into how the Arts and Humanities contribute to place-based work. 

Places are an important part of our everyday lives, where we live, work and play. The connections we feel to these places - the meanings, activities, and qualities that we associate with them - shape our lives in all sorts of ways. From our social lives, to our health and well-being, our economic and educational opportunities, to our cultural experiences and leisure options, places can inspire and connect us, make us feel safe and at home.

The AHRC-funded Place-Based Research Programme is exploring how Arts and Humanities approaches can contribute to positive outcomes for places, for people in place, as well as informing place-based polices and practices. We are doing this in several ways. Firstly, we are working collaboratively with nine knowledge exchange projects from across the UK. These projects are designed to improve access to Arts and Humanities research expertise, with a view to informing and supporting the development of plans for local regeneration. In addition to these new projects, we have also been looking at UKRI databases (the Gateway to Research and REF Impact Case Studies 2014 and 2021) to identify on-going and completed projects with a place focus. Based on these records, we have been analysing what sort of Arts and Humanities place-based work has received AHRC funding to date and how those projects have articulated their impact. It is a complex and varied picture, but we also know it is not the whole story. For that reason, the third aspect of our research is an open Call for Evidence.

This Call for Evidence is an important part of our research approach. It is focused on gaps in our understanding and questions that have emerged from the knowledge exchange projects and the review of previously funded work. It will help us to:

  • Delve deeper into the processes of change and how Arts and Humanities approaches achieve impact;
  • Understand some of the systemic issues that influence how impact is captured, communicated, and sustained;
  • Include areas (disciplines, geographies, approaches) and groups that are marginalised or under-represented within the overall place-based portfolio; and
  • Identify emerging directions and future opportunities for Arts and Humanities to contribute to place.

The Call for Evidence will draw on the experiences of our knowledge exchange partners, but we also hope that it will be of interest to and engage a wide range of actors who are using Arts and Humanities approaches in place-based work. It will consist of a series of linked activities over the coming months that aim to gain a breadth of responses and achieve a depth of understanding through deeper, follow up conversations. These activities will help us to better understand how a range of people – researchers, professionals, creative practitioners, community groups, volunteers – draw on the Arts and Humanities in their place-based work. 

As the first stage in our Call for Evidence, we are delighted to today be launching an online questionnaire. This short survey is open to anyone who is using Arts and Humanities approaches in place-based work. ‘Place-based work’ is broadly defined and includes aspects of spatial planning and design, cultural assets, working with people in place, relationships to place and/or processes of place-making.  

 By completing the questionnaire, you will be helping to build a body of evidence for the important role the Arts and Humanities can play in meeting the needs and priorities of different places and groups.  So why not tell us how you approach place-based work? We’d love to hear from you!

 The call for evidence questionnaire is now closed.

Dr Liz Robson is an inter-disciplinary researcher with a professional background in community development. Her research interests include collaborative knowledge production, people-centred methods, and participatory heritage management, placemaking and planning processes. As Post-Doctoral Research Associate for the Place-Based Research Programme she is primarily evidencing the breadth of place-based work funded by the AHRC, along with the KE projects, to help build our understanding of the role and value of Arts and Humanities within the place-based agenda.


First published: 24 November 2022