We use digital technologies and the arts to support people to imagine and develop ideas about social change, prototype new approaches, and share the learning across the UK and beyond.
We use these tools as part of an ‘action research’ process – a specific approach to research that does not start with a fixed ‘hypothesis’ to test but with an idea that could be explored further. The research process is about trying out, expanding and refining that idea through dialogue and creative exchange, with a range of people, who are all involved as co-researchers rather than as ‘researchees.’ We understand ‘socially engaged arts practice’ as a type of action research that involves supporting people to do the things that they want to do, which may not necessarily be what is expected.
We are home to Bristol Living Lab and our research projects follow the framework of The Bristol Approach: rather than ‘pushing’ technology or pre-determined ‘solutions’ onto people, we work with local people, artists, technologists and other partners to ‘pull in’ the resources we need to develop ideas and tools for tackling local challenges and creating new opportunities.
The action research process also generates ‘actionable insights’ that are then articulated, not only through the practical products of a project, such as exhibitions and events, but also through written products. Our published research on policy and practice across the arts, digital technology, participation, community development and regeneration can be downloaded or accessed in the sections on the right.