Arts Connect

By Annette Naudin on October 1st, 2016

Cultural Landscapes is a research project commissioned by Arts Connect, a ‘Bridge’ organisation for the West Midlands that seeks to improve the access and engagement of children and young people 0–19 in arts and culture. The focus of Cultural Landscapes is to address issues of quality, availability and use of data by arts and cultural education providers. Arts Connect’s ambition is to reduce the inequality gap in children and young people accessing and engaging in arts and cultural opportunities across the West Midlands.

Our research proposal addresses this concern by providing an analytical and critical perspective on current cultural provision, engagement and creating a user-friendly planning resource for Arts Connect and Cultural Education Partnerships across the West Midlands region. We explore the challenges of using data visualisation as a methodology for supporting cultural organisations who seek to address inequalities in cultural provision, specifically for children and young people. This project highlights the challenges and limitations of data visualisation as a means analysing cultural engagement with implications for policy makers and cultural organisations.

Our aim with the project is to interrogate the development of a methodology for collecting and presenting data, as a means of addressing inequalities in children and young people’s cultural engagement. In creating a data visualisation tool, we are concerned about the robustness of the data, the ‘story’ it presents and how this is used and interpreted by cultural organisations. Our approach is to gain an overview of existing data, including data collected by Arts Connect from Arts Award and Artsmark, to establish a baseline position. This initial scoping will inform a pilot data visualisation of the quantitative data and an opportunity to engage with potential users, such as members of a Cultural Education Partnership. Based on our findings from the scoping activity and initial case study, we propose to address the need to produce further case studies, using publicly available information and by collecting new data.

Working collaboratively, we work with Arts Connect will inform policy makers and cultural organisations exploring data visualisation as a methodology for capturing inequalities in cultural engagement. The final project phase will be the dissemination and promotion of our findings in collaboration with Arts Connect.

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