Report emphasises the importance of people and place in policy

An arrangement of colorful pins linked together with string on a pale blue background suggesting a network of connections

The report, from the University of Glasgow, considers the need to balance the focus on the geographic and economic dimensions of place with the lived and felt.

Entitled ‘Developing a People-Centred, Place-Led Approach: The Value of the Arts and Humanities’, the report explores how to advance a people-centred, place-led approach to policies and practices.

It details the findings of phase one of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC) Place-Based Research Programme, led by Rebecca Madgin, Professor of Urban Studies at the University of Glasgow.

Creative approaches and inclusive processes

Professor Christopher Smith, Executive Chair of AHRC said:

We welcome the work that Rebecca and her team in the Place-Based Research Programme are doing, which engages with the very fabric of how we live in this country and how we live equitably across the globe.

The MAP approach of meaning, creative approaches and inclusive processes is an enormously valuable way of thinking about arts and humanities and how they can be harnessed to better understand places and ultimately to collaboratively build better places.

It is an important contribution to AHRC’s and UKRI’s work on place, and the MAP approach is an exemplar which also offers lessons for how we do research more generally.

Places matter

Professor Rebecca Madgin, the Programme Director for the Place Programme and one of the report’s authors, said:

Places matter because they are the foundation stone of individual and collective life and a repository of emotions, experiences, meanings, and memories.

Place is therefore more than a geographic location to which economic resource can be allocated.

The report focuses on the value of the arts and humanities within advancing a people-centred, place-led approach.

It does so by outlining the innovative ways in which the arts and humanities can help us to creatively and sensitively understand the multiple, hidden and contested meanings of place and to use this information to achieve positive outcomes for people and place.

Achieving a balance

Research has shown that there is increasingly a need to balance the traditional focus on the geographic and economic dimensions of place with the lived and felt.

This can be seen in the ways that ‘social fabric’, ‘social infrastructure’, ‘pride in place’, ‘belonging’, and ‘satisfaction’ are being explored within a UK government context. And the move towards recognising experts by experience within a Scottish context.

However, challenges remain in devising, delivering and evaluating people-centred, place-led work.

A unique position

The report shows that the arts and humanities is uniquely positioned to advance people-centred, place-led approaches and in so doing overcome some of the perceived barriers and challenges within existing systems and practices.

To achieve this, the report outlines three interconnected aspects of a people-centred, place-led work encapsulated in the acronym MAP (meaning, approaches, processes):

  • foregrounding place as a centre of meaning
  • embedding creative approaches within place-based work
  • developing inclusive processes, based on equitable partnerships

In so doing, MAP ensures that the intimate, everyday, and embedded relationships that people have with their places are centred within place-based policies and practices.

Place-based analysis

The findings have emerged from the analysis of place-based AHRC-funded projects since 2011.

These include impact case studies from the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 and REF 2021 along with responses to an open call for evidence.

In addition, the Place Programme has also supported nine knowledge exchange projects working across the four nations of the UK.

Each of the projects have worked with local, national and community partners to advance people-centred, place-led work and whose work is featured within the report.

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