quality practice, partnership working

Engaging the public through art-research collaborations: New resource informed by the sector

updated on 05 Oct 2023
2 minutes

'What works' guide: Exploring how researchers and artists are working together to engage the public with research.

People being creative

06 / 09 / 2021

Increasingly, artists and researchers are working together to engage the public with research. These relationships have the potential to open up new opportunities to learn, reflect and develop new ways of thinking. 

The NCCPE, together with the University of Leicester and a wider network of artists, researchers and engagement brokers, have co-developed a new expert resource, exploring the current landscape of art-research collaborations, and how they can enrich and challenge our approaches to public engagement with research. It aims to guide you through setting up your own collaborations that have the potential to transform understanding of art, science and research, and the experiences of participants.

‘What works: Artist and Researcher collaborations'

The guide covers:

  • Getting started - a useful flow chart detailing the key stages of developing an art-research collaboration
  • Why might artists and researchers collaborate? - a focus on the motivations behind these collaborations, the process, outputs and benefits 
  • Approaches to finding artists and researchers – listing different approaches for finding a potential collaborator, and some of the pros and cons of each
  • Building your collaboration – exploring some of the key ingredients and barriers to setting up your collaboration 
  • Project planning – To ensure that a partnership continues well, it helps to plan well. Some top tips and tools. 
  • Stakeholder mapping - Recommendations for mapping and engaging with stakeholders, amidst different stakeholder priorities. 
  • Funding - Includes a guide to costing artist and researcher collaborations and some of the funding opportunities available 
  • Legacy - The legacy of your collaboration should be considered from the beginning of thr project so it is important to define what this looks like early on 
  • Tough stuff A-Z - Collaborative working can be joyful but also a challenge! We help you to navigate and learn from some of the pitfals of collaborative working 

There are also stories of collaboration thoughout the guide to help ground the advice and resources within current practice. A huge thank you to all the contributors working across the sector for their time and expertise. 

The guide was produced using the ‘what works’ process, which crowdsources intelligence and resources around different engagement topics to then synthesis into a useful guide.

Building on this work and process, the Attenborough Arts Centre (led by Dr Marie Nugent) and the Wellcome Trust have developed the Creative Engagement Fellowship. The scheme connects academics and artists to enable interdisciplinary approaches, and co-explore barriers, to research and engagement, for the betterment of society. Find out more about the Creative Engagement Fellowship and the current projects it supports