CHEAD Research Alliance Strategy Group. First Meeting Reflections: December 2020

January 5, 2021

On 15th December 2020 the newly formed Research Alliance Strategy Group held its first meeting.

Following a call for members, our newly elected representees from the wider research alliance responded with enthusiasm and vision. Our virtual meeting was attended by 19 members, CHEAD’S two Directors, Anna Maloney and Sandra Booth, and was chaired by our two Co Directors of the Research Alliance, Professor Jake Kaner and Professor Sunil Manghani.

The forming of the Strategy Group represents a step-change in our democratic approach at the same time as meeting online has enabled us to be more inclusive, open and transparent. We are committed to co-creating the aims and actions of the Research Alliance via this representative community of practice ensuring that more voices can be heard and CHEAD can continue to be member-led, relevant and responsive.

The group is extremely diverse and is drawn from all types of institutions including Russell Group, Post 92s and specialist arts universities, (including pre RDAP institutions) and is open to all levels of researcher from ECRs, mid-level researchers, pre- and post-docs, professors and highly experienced Research Leaders.
In order to fully reflect relevant Units of Assessment in REF 2021, we have engaged researchers across a breadth of disciplines and with a wide range of perspectives from fine art, curatorial practice, industrial design and more!

Quote from Judit Bodor, Baxter Fellow, DJCAD.
It is a unique opportunity to join the Strategy Group at a time when the socio-economic context is rapidly changing and where researchers need to find new resilience to thrive. As a contemporary art curator recently appointed as a Baxter Fellow at the University of Dundee, I represent a distinct voice of the early-career female arts practitioner-researcher and I am looking forward to working with and learn from my colleagues in the Group. In the next two years, one of my priorities will be to advocate the Alliance’s work on issues around gender equity in academia. Throughout my career, I have worked professionally across the academic and cultural sectors, so I am also hoping to support the work around furthering collaboration between HEIs and industry. Finally, I feel that the Strategy Group can be instrumental in developing a programme that helps to articulate the different values of practice-led research in art and design and opening up conversations with policymakers and funders around how these values might align with future funding.

What the Group holds in common is agreement on the need for CHEAD to focus on the post REF environment where a broader, more ambitious landscape for art and design research can be fully realised within the Industrial Strategy, cultural recovery, climate change, health/wellbeing and a more equitable society.

The Research Alliance Strategy Group members are developing an ethos which brings together a distributed and broad-based group of research practitioners and leaders from all four nations to deliver a national profile for the art and design research base in Higher Education.

Topics covered included;

  • Refreshing Terms of Reference
  • Reviewing the recent Funding Landscape event
  • Future scoping of events and priorities
  • Integrity and ethics
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Industry/organisation and partner collaboration and knowledge exchange
Research is a key pillar within the CHEAD Strategic Plan within which the group has a number of objectives;
  • Promote the visibility, standing and impact of art, media and design research strategically.
  • Catalyse research networks, encourage interdisciplinarity, multi and cross-disciplinary research.
  • Grow research capacity and capabilities and disseminate research practice.
  • Develop research leadership and support early career researchers
  • Shape and communicate a coherent narrative of the achievements and contribution of art and design HE to culture, society and economy by demonstrating agency and innovative multi-dimensional solutions to complex challenges.
The Group acts as an advisory board and reports through to Trustees via the Co-Chairs for Research.
It was very positive to see such enthusiasm from the group members who brought valuable contributions to the meeting raising some promising areas of interest that we will drive forward together. It feels like we are a cohesive group with much purpose and direction. I believe that we have an opportunity here to make a step change for CHEAD and the sector to raise the profile of UK research in Art and Design and identify priorities that can really make a difference for all in our disciplines, at a time when we are engaged with multiple challenges and consequent new opportunities”.
Professor Jake Kaner Associate Dean, Research for the School of Art and Design, Nottingham Trent University.For next year the Group is working on a Research Funding member event, a Post REF Research Environment member event and a longer-term strategy to engage with policy and funding decision makers within key organisations and government departments.

CHEAD Research Alliance will be a collaborative, entrepreneurial partner in the UK’s creative and cultural economy – demonstrating how our research creates impact by shaping practice, activating innovation and informing policy. The Alliance aspires to influence policy through research, practice and advocacy, keeping curiosity and exemplary arts processes at its core.

If you have any questions about the Research Alliance, please contact Director of Membership and Operations, Anna Maloney via:

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