Create to Collaborate: using creative activity and participatory performance in online workshops to build collaborative research relationships

Malpass, A, Breel, A ORCID: 0000-0001-6262-7413, Stubbs, J, Stevens, T, Maravala, P-J, Shipman, E, Banks Gross, Z and Farr, M (2023) 'Create to Collaborate: using creative activity and participatory performance in online workshops to build collaborative research relationships.' Research Involvement and Engagement, 9. e111. ISSN 2056-7529

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Background:- Creative methods/practices have been highlighted as helpful to develop more collaborative, equitable research partnerships between researchers and communities/public-participants. We asked artist partners to design four online workshops, one on each research priority area: school environments and mental health; wellbeing within the Somali community; air pollution; health data. We aimed to understand whether creative processes can enable public-participants and researcher- participants to meet in a neutral space to discuss a research theme and begin to build collaborative relationships through more equal engagement. Ideas could be taken forwards with seed funding, providing opportunity for collaboration to continue beyond initial workshops. Methods:- Different artist partners designed and facilitated four workshops. Evaluation data was collected on each workshop using participatory observation and fieldnotes, alongside chatlog data, and one-to-one interviews with 21 workshop participants, providing a contextually rich, comparative evaluation across four diverse workshops. Analysis was thematically driven. Results:- Artist partners took different approaches to designing workshops. The workshops began with introductory games and activities, and there was less emphasis on introductions of people’s roles, with the intention to avoid hierarchical dynamics. Whilst public-participants enjoyed this, some researchers found it challenging and reported confusions over their workshop roles. Disrupting usual practice and challenging norms was not always an easy experience. There were examples where emergent, co-created knowledge was enabled. However, it was more challenging to facilitate longer-term collaborative research projects from the workshops due to different stakeholder priorities, and lack of staff time/ less sense of ownership for further work. Conclusions:- Creative activities can influence and impact the types of conversations between public-participants and researchers in a way that changes and challenges power dynamics, shifting towards public-participant driven discussion. Whilst deconstructing hierarchies is important, supporting researchers is key so that any discomfort can be productive and experienced as a vital part of co-production. Longer term collaborative research projects were limited, highlighting a need for facilitation beyond initial workshops, and a sense of ownership from workshop participants to take things forwards. Workshops like these may lend themselves well to research prioritisation. However, taking community-led ideas forwards within research funding landscapes remains challenging.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: creative activity, collaborative research, creative partnerships, public engagement, public involvement, participatory performance
Divisions: Bath School of Music and Performing Arts
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Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2023 13:10
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2023 13:18
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