CCSE’s Colombian PhD student and associate researcher, Greis Cifuentes has – at the age of 31 – been chosen as the new Development Director for the Fundación Nacional Batuta (FNB) in Colombia. Batuta has a presence in all 32 of the country’s administrative departamentos. FNB serves more than 38,000 children and young people from vulnerable populations providing first-rate musical training which focuses on collective practice from a perspective of social inclusion, rights and cultural diversity. Participation in FNB programmes provides an outlet for creative energies, distraction from challenges arising from surrounding societal difficulties and the constructive development of skills in music alongside complementary improvement of abilities in social engagement. Ultimately, involvement with FNB contributes to improved quality of life for its beneficiaries and their families.
To date, Greis’s professional and academic trajectory has been hugely impressive. Prior to her FNB appointment, she could already boast an outstanding career in the cultural and educational sector working in the public sector and international organisations such as the Fulbright Commission in Germany and Colombia, the Colombian Ministry of Culture and the Colombian Consulate in New York.
Among the challenges of this new position, the diversification funding sources for the Foundation and expanding its coverage and the number of beneficiaries participating in FNB activities are priorities. In addition, in her new role, Greis will need to guarantee the continuity of Batuta’s most significant projects across the country.
Greis firmly believes in the transformative power of music and the methodology used by Batuta as a tool for strengthening social capital. The FNB’s pedagogical model promotes peaceful conflict resolution approaches among its beneficiary groups, utilising dialogue as a vital element of the effort to assist participants’ integral development and to strengthen the bonds between children taking part in FNB programmes; a process which, in turn, encourages them to expand their social networks.
FESTSPACE is our recently commenced multi-institution collaboration led by our Deputy Director Professor David McGillivray. The project will examine the ways in which festivals and events enable or restrict access to, and use of, public spaces, including the extent to which they might effectively host interactions and exchanges between people from different cultural, ethnic, socio-economic and socio-demographic backgrounds. The project is designed to explore how festivals and events affect the inclusivity of Europe’s urban public spaces. The focus of this funded work is on Western European cities; consequently, we will be conducting field research in Glasgow, London, Dublin, Barcelona and Gothenburg.
It is our hope that the research and analysis we’ll be undertaking will disclose novel and exciting insights into the contemporary role of festival spaces in and around some of Europe’s most vibrant city spaces. As part of CCSE’s remit is concerned with defining and investigating processes of cultural (and culture-led) regeneration in and around Paisley and Renfrewshire, it is important for us to look at ways in which this large piece of HERA-funded research work can be of benefit to the bold policy and practice agendas that places like Paisley are driving forward. While FESTSPACE is city-focussed, it is nevertheless useful for us to be mindful of the ways in which towns and other smaller urban settings utilise festivals and events. It is also worthwhile to consider how CCSE can ensure the effective inclusion of places such as Paisley – i.e. a town in the greater Glasgow area – in the knowledge generation and exchange which is a crucial part of the FESTSPACE dissemination strategy.
The FESTSPACE project will include a number of public engagement events and non-academic outputs which are intended to promote inclusivity across the widest range of stakeholder groups. It will be interesting to reflect on the efficacy of these efforts to promote broader engagement as well as valuable to keep this process in mind over the lifetime of the project.
FESTSPACE will be hosting a symposium at the University of the West of Scotland on Friday June 14th, 2019. More details can be found here: https://bit.ly/2vqK3cj
Last week the British Council published ‘The Art of Peace: the value of culture in post-conflict recovery’ as part of their Policy Insight series which is intended to further debate and understanding of the role of cultural relations in international affairs. The booklet is a summary document deriving from earlier work undertaken by CCSE which was commissioned on the basis of a successful response to a British Council tender opportunity. The full-length report ‘A Review of the Contribution of Arts and Culture to Global Security and Stability’ comprises a wide-ranging review of both academic and grey literature examining the ways in which arts and culture can be leveraged to address security, stability concerns and, feed into to processes of conflict resolution and reconciliation. In addition, 3 country case studies are discussed. These shed light on the practice-based approaches that have been utilised in the chosen settings (Rwanda, Columbia and Syria); here, we were able to draw upon the specific expertise and interests of two of the University’s doctoral researchers. Finally, we produced a mapping document, intended to function as a point of reference and insight into work ongoing globally in related areas.
This original report has been well received and we’ve been pleased to hear that it’s been widely distributed and positively impactful both within the British Council and across their network of colleagues, partners and collaborators. However, if we’re honest, we can also admit that the readership for this research is never likely to be particularly large. It is for this reason that we are very pleased that the British Council has produced ‘The Art of Peace’ which is presents a concise, accessible summary of our research work and situates it clearly within the context-framework of its own activities and remit.
This process is greatly beneficial, not only for us as researchers interested in ensuring an audience for our work; it also provides food for thought. For instance, what is the most appropriate way for us to package and present our work so that others might read, enjoy and engage with it (and, perhaps, with us)? And, what’s the most efficient and effective way for us to approach this conundrum? These questions are of significance for CCSE as co-production and partnership are very deliberate elements of our collaborative approach. These are questions that arise on a regular basis for us and, we’re always searching for ways to answer them. On this occasion, the British Council has highlighted one of the possible responses.
We’re delighted with this short visual reminder of our launch event which was a great opportunity to increase awareness of CCSE and its activities, bringing together stakeholders from across the Renfrewshire and Glasgow regions with policy makers, community members, creative industry and academic participants active locally and nationally. Our panel discussion developed into a thought provoking debate drawing on examples of success and giving due consideration to the challenges and opportunities to be negotiated if cultural regeneration is to be a positive experience for all.
The new Centre for Culture, Sport and Events was launched officially on 21st March, the event was attended by almost a 100 local, national, policy, community and practitioner stakeholders. Representatives of Glasgow School of Art, NHS Scotland, Skills Development Scotland, Create Scotland and Scottish Government were in joined contributors to Ferguslie Park community arts projects and PhD students from UWS and Edinburgh University. A discussion exploring the challenges and opportunities encountered in attempts to encourage cultural regeneration featured Create London’s Hadrian Garrard, Professor of Cultural Policy at the University of Glasgow, Kate Oakley and Glasgow-based community artist, Mandy Macintosh.
The speakers gave insights into their work in practice, policy and research at local, national and international levels, leading to a wide-ranging discussion with members of the diverse audience. We were reminded of the importance of the inclusion of the target audience and community members in the process of cultural regeneration and, the perils of the failure to recognise that places have culture even when they have not been the subject of specific interventions!
The occasion of the launch provided the opportunity to celebrate the reciprocal relationships that have been successfully built up between community, practitioner, policy-maker and researcher groups in and around Paisley and Renfrewshire. The Centre for Culture, Sport and Events represents an attempt to continue to foster and learn from these relationships and, to find ways of feeding local and community knowledge into the ongoing process of Paisley’s cultural regeneration.
In addition to the work being undertaken with partners at Renfrewshire Council, the research and dissemination that forms part of the Centre’s wider remit was also on display. Both The Paisley Daily Express and Insider.co.uk featured write ups of the launch.