All entries for Thursday 05 December 2013

December 05, 2013

A message from one of the founders of Warwick Creative Exchange

What do the arts, especially the performing arts, and education have in common? In my experience creative imagination, collaborative working, fluency and conviction in communication, attention to detail, ability to meet deadlines.

The recognition of this commonality of experience between the theatre and the academy has been a significant feature of Warwick’s teaching and research since its foundation in the 1960s with the Department of English and the Institute of Education in its Drama and Education courses at the forefront of work in this area, joined by colleagues in the exploration of creativity and performance in its application across the disciplines. So the establishment of the Warwick Creative Exchange in 2011 was the next step on a journey for the University (and for me), following on from the work of the CAPITAL Centre ( and more recently WBS Create at Warwick Business School, with which I have been involved as administrator since 2005.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council’s call for proposals for Knowledge Exchange Hubs for the Creative Economy in April 2011, made us look with fresh eyes at the work going on at Warwick and encouraged us to take the opportunity to formalise the partnerships and projects that had been so fruitfully developed in the region with, for example, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Sante Theatre, Talking Birds, China Plate, the RSC. Although we weren’t selected as an AHRC hub we didn’t want to lose the momentum we had gathered from the enthusiastic support of arts practitioners and organisations. The most practical way forward to facilitate partnerships and projects to the mutual advantage of all in terms of knowledge exchange was to create a more formal network. So the Warwick Creative Exchange (WCE) was established in autumn 2011, with the aim of bringing together Warwick academics and West Midlands cultural organisations to identify and encourage interdisciplinary research and knowledge exchanges between the University and the regional cultural community.

What essentially drives all WCE partners, whether academic or cultural, after our core activities and commitments, is funding to support our ideas, dreams, and practical needs. How do we get the support we need to do what we want to do? How do we persuade funders that we are worthy of that support? How do we evaluate what we do so we know – and our funders know - that we have made a difference to the audiences we serve whether in the theatre, the classroom or the academy. Talking to each other helps to develop ideas and strategies but I think practical actions help more. Warwick’s expertise in cultural policy, digital innovation, education and training is there to be tapped by our cultural partners and their expertise in audience development, community engagement, creative interpretation can inform and inspire the University. Having recently retired, I am outside WCE looking in, but I continue to believe that WCE’s success will come from making real work that capitalises on those strengths. I look forward to seeing the results!

Susan Brock

Formerly Administrator, the CAPITAL Centre; Academic Project Manager, WBS Create.

The curiosity of academia together with the creativity of the arts

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s mission statement is to be one of the world’s leading large-scale international dance companies Achieved through… 1. Promoting outstanding creativity and artistic excellence 2. Being a model of good management practice 3. Serving a global range of constituencies and communities 4. Maximising arts development opportunities 5. Increasing understanding of the cultural and social importance of the arts To achieve this we are constantly reflecting on our work and developing the learning to strive for excellence in all that we do. Being involved in activities and discussions with Warwick Creative Exchange enables us to bring the rigour of academic interrogation into our work. The curiosity of academia together with the creativity of the arts will enable new and exciting developments to emerge with circles of influence spreading far and wide. Birmingham Royal Ballet is delighted to be involved in this exciting venture.

Pearl Chesterman

Director for Learning, Birmingham Royal Ballet

December 2013

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