AHRC announces EDI engagement fellowships

City centre crowd walking across a road

Ten arts and humanities researchers will receive funding to further the impact of their equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) research.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) is pleased to announce

Fellows will work with communities to explore topics including:

  • the loneliness epidemic in LGBTQ+ communities
  • the forgotten relationship between the city of Bath and Ethiopian culture.

The fellows will be supported by a total investment of over £850,000 which will be used to engage diverse audiences with their outstanding research.

Engaging audiences with EDI research

The AHRC EDI engagement fellows include:

Dr Shawn Sobers

Dr Sobers will host a series of events including an opera performance and art exhibition celebrating Bath’s role as home of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I.

Professor Anna Fox

Professor Fox will host a series of innovative workshops and mentorship activities to drive awareness of women’s unheard stories using photography and story-telling practices.

Dr Patricia Noxolo

Dr Noxolo’s work will include three artistic provocations designed to provoke discussion about everyday negotiations between security and insecurity that different races experience.

Connecting with communities

Research into the arts and humanities can bring new perspectives to the way we think about contemporary challenges.

When such research is rooted in engagement with the communities and issues affecting the public, it can drive real-world change. This funding will enable EDI engagement fellows to develop a range of exciting engagement opportunities including community workshops and a bespoke festival.

These opportunities will connect existing academic research with communities across the UK to deliver research with a tangible impact on society and help shape future EDI policies.

Professor Christopher Smith, AHRC Executive Chair, said:

Learning about our heritage and culture and participating in the arts can deepen our perception of our history and of ourselves.

These fellowships will enable researchers to connect their scholarship with diverse communities across the UK and bring about positive change.

Arts and humanities research has tremendous potential to help people to embrace different viewpoints and to build a fairer, more inclusive society.

Further information

AHRC has a longstanding commitment to upholding the principles of EDI in all activities and AHRC is committed to creating a more inclusive research and innovation environment.

The AHRC EDI engagement fellows

Dr Manuella Blackburn: overcoming sonic stalemates – representing cultural diversity in sample packs

This fellowship will use the completed Instruments INDIA sound archive with its five hours of recordings of 28 Indian instruments as a central resource to engage others with diversity.

This will be achieved by creating sample packs using sounds from the archive for use amongst the wider sample-based music community.

Sample packs have a history of placing ‘world music’ labels onto their non-Western sound offerings and many conform to stereotyped notions of what is regarded as Indian music.

In addressing these outdated and often prejudiced perceptions, important conversations can take place between musicians, creators, and their audiences.

Professor Anna Fox: Fast Forward, Women in Photography, putting ourselves in the picture

Professor Anna Fox is one of the most acclaimed British photographers of the last 30 years. In 2016 she founded Fast Forward: Women in Photography, a research and development project which promotes equality, diversity, and inclusion for women through photography.

This fellowship will build on the Fast Forward project to support a community of marginalised women in collaboration with:

  • Impressions Gallery, Bradford
  • National Galleries of Scotland
  • Women for Refugee Women
  • Work Show Grow
  • Autograph ABP.

Through a series of innovative workshops and mentorship activities, the aim is to increase awareness of women’s unheard life stories using photography and story-telling practices.

Dr Charlotte Jones: The beat of our hearts – staging new histories of LGBTQIA loneliness

Many LGBTQIA people in Britain have been subject to exclusion and isolation as a result of explicit discrimination and hostility, as well as more diffused cultural bias.

Loneliness is one of the most significant emotional and psychological expressions of this marginalisation, and can lead to serious difficulties in mental and physical health. Unfortunately, it is also an understudied and under-discussed phenomenon.

This project will engage audiences with the history of loneliness and solidarity in LGBTQIA communities, reconnecting them with queer lives of the past.

The fellowship will transform existing research by Dr Charlotte Jones and Dr Fred Cooper into a programme of creative workshops in Devon and Cornwall in partnership with the Intercom Trust, and culminate in the development and staging of an original performance at Exeter’s Northcott Theatre, written by playwright Natalie McGrath.

Dr Churnjeet Mahn: EDI in Scottish heritage

This fellowship is designed to create vital capacity to address EDI issues in some of Scotland’s largest and most influential heritage organisations, including Museums and Galleries Scotland.

How do we democratise access to Scottish heritage organisations so we hear more voices and perspectives?

By working with the heritage sector in Scotland to map challenges, address inequalities and build links with diverse communities, this fellowship provides an opportunity to curate more diverse and inclusive accounts of our past, in order to challenge inequalities in the present.   

Dr Patricia Noxolo: creative approaches to race and in/security in the Caribbean and the UK (CARICUK)

This project is a year-long collaboration between artists and educators, which aims to transform discussions about race and anti-racism in UK higher education.

It aims to highlight everyday negotiations between security and insecurity (in/security) in the Caribbean, and also to set up negotiations around anti-racism between the UK higher education sector and Britain’s black communities.

It will include three artistic provocations, three short films and a publication experiment.

Each of these is designed to provoke discussion about Caribbean and racialised in/securities, which will each be followed by public discussion events.

Additionally, an online learning pack for schools will lead into a large-scale arts participation and exhibition.

Professor Sandeep Parmar: race and reviewing in the UK – The Ledbury Poetry Critics

Although publishing by UK poets of colour has risen sharply during the previous decade, poetry reviewing has largely lagged behind.

This year-long project will build on Professor Sandeep Parmar’s previous research on race and UK poetry and the Ledbury Poetry Critics programme by expanding the existing group of poetry critics and working further with commissioning editors, art organisations and academics.

A programme of workshops, public events with panel discussions and one-on-one mentoring will feed into a critics residency at Ledbury Poetry Festival in 2021.

Additionally, paid editor residencies throughout the year will partner critics with editors to develop editorial skills.

Two postdoctoral fellows, Alycia Pirmohamed and Dave Coates, will also oversee the programme alongside Professor Parmar and expand Ledbury Critics’ reach and sustainability in 2021.

Professor John Ravenscroft: CVI and ART, (CVIART) – sensing things differently

Cerebral Visual Impairment (CVI) is the most common form of childhood visual impairment in high income countries.

This fellowship provides a bridge between academic work concerning CVI and the understanding of CVI needed by parents, carers, and professionals as well as children themselves.

This will be achieved through the interweaving of theory and the creative areas of art, music and dance.

It aims to provide for the very first time through music, dance and art, ways of explaining and understanding CVI, and more importantly understanding what a child with CVI may perceive.

Professor Amanda Ravetz: social artists for equality, diversity and inclusion (SAFEDIS)

This fellowship challenges the exclusion of under-represented artists and artists who work with under-represented communities (social artists) from the visual arts.

Research shows that the arts are failing to reach people already routinely excluded on the basis and intersections of race and ethnicity, disabilities, gender, sexuality and socio-economic background.

It also shows that social artists are not properly supported to help these communities to tell their stories.

This fellowship will bridge knowledge between under-represented artists, social artists and the mainstream visual art world, to benefit all and make sure community voices are respected and heard.

To achieve this, in partnership with national organisations Axisweb and Social Art Network, six art projects in diverse UK sites will work with artists, people from under-represented communities and partner organisations to better understand barriers to culture and creativity.

Dr Shawn Sobers: Freedom in the City Festival of Learning

The city of Bath is primarily known for its Roman and Georgian roots, and as the home of novelist Jane Austen. Yet Bath was also home of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, who is considered God incarnate by members of the Rastafari faith.

This interdisciplinary project uses the legacy of Emperor Haile Selassie I and his connection to Bath as the basis of a seven-month series of events celebrating openness and cultural inclusivity.

It will build connections between local communities and encourage conversation and cross-cultural connections.

Professor Hannah Thompson: inclusive description for equality and access (IDEA)

Audio introductions are used by many theatres to provide blind and partially sighted theatre-goers with essential information about a play’s setting, costumes, props and characters.

References to actors’ or characters’ protected characteristics such as race, gender, sexuality, disability and age in audio introductions though are not always made in inclusive and equitable ways.

This fellowship aims to change this by engaging theatre professionals, audio describers and blind and partially sighted people with the creation and promotion of inclusive audio introductions which celebrate actors’ diversity.

Top image:  Aerial view of a crowd walking across the pedestrian crosswalk (credit: Dmytro Varavin/Getty Images)

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