Sunday, 19 February 2012

Working with Museums: Leeds and Rochdale

The monthly Classics in our Lunchtimes talks series at Leeds City Museum, which has received very favourable feedback from participants, has attracted sufficient numbers of attendees to be extended at the museum's request to September 2012 from July 2012.

I have just completed a trial pair of workshops comprising a short academic introduction followed by theatre workshop for Touchstones Rochdale's Link4Life. The second of these workshops ("What did the Romans Laugh at?" with talk by Dr Regine May) was picked up and advertised by the BBC's "things to do" feed. The feedback received has been very positive with attendees being inspired to further learning, greater confidence and return visits to the museum. Touchstones has proposed a number of ways forward ranging from drop-in "talks days", talks linked to objects in the collection, family activities and further workshops for different age groups. The intention is to investigate what kinds of activities with an academic dimension attract attendance and are most appreciated, with some attention being paid to relating to groups who are under-represented in attending museums or cultural events.

Classics Talks

The Classics Talks website (supported in this pilot phase by a University of Leeds EKT Innovation grant) is now up and running, and attracting viewers and subscribers from across the globe.

The process of uploading talks is ongoing, with the focus on having podcasts from the Classics in our Lunchtimes talks series up-to-date. The full programme of talks to September 2012 is now available.

Research Project Overview: Light Night

Funding was secured from Leeds City Council and the Leeds University Cultural Committee in order to deliver a second Light Night project (this time based upon the research of a single academic, Emma Stafford): In the Footsteps of Hercules.

Two presentations of the underpinning concept and rationale prior to the event:
"Classics in the City", August 2011, Vitae Public Engagement Competition
"Classics in the City", August 2011, Secret Bettakulcha
Resulted in some impact consultancy work with reference to activities in museums to promote research projects and an invitation to present "Hercules as Leeds' hero" at the Magic Loungeabout Festival, Broughton Hall, July 2012.

During the course of Light Night 10,000 people engaged with the project and since Light Night there have been:
1 request for a virtual tour (in the form of a talk to Leeds Psychogeography Group, 31st January 2012, picked up on and advertised by the New Statesman)
1 request for a version based in Dublin (Classical Association of Ireland: Teachers)
1 invitation to perform a version at the Gateshead International Theatre Festival
3 attendees at the new Classics in our Lunchtimes talks series in Leeds City Museum on the strength of advertising on the Light Night event maps.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Research Project Overview

Now that the project is well under way and results of its three strands are identifiable, it seemed a good time to start a blog that could be updated with events etc. as they happen.

The Visiting Research Fellowship
I am currently undertaking research into the role and scope of performance-based activities in knowledge transfer and public engagement for Classics, both as a discipline and as a university department.
Through undertaking such activities the project aims to build a network of contacts with local arts, museum, theatre and cinema organisations. By identifying mutually appealing opportunities, it will seek to develop these contacts into partnerships that will result in enhanced local activities relating to classics and capitalising on the Department's research interests. Funding oportunities to support such activity and further opportunities will be explored.
It is hoped to establish collaborative events that will become a feature of the Leeds calendar.

Activity to date
November 2009-December 2010
This has fallen into three distinct areas: performance-based 'edutainment', cross-faculty collaboration (theatre), and museums/galleries networking/collaboration, each of which now has its own page.

January 2011-April 2011
Activities have focused on cross-faculty collaboration (theatre), including knowledge transfer from Classics researchers to Performance and Cultural Industries students (as part of an assessed performance of an adaptation of Euripides' Orestes), a joint widening-participation school's day; pre-performance talks and a public masterclass. This combination of events has been confirmed as the model for on-going collaboration between Classics and PVAC around ancient drama.

April 2011-May 2011
Activities will focus on museums collaboration in preparation for the submission of funding bids relating to performance-based 'edutainment' in the form of a factasy walk entitled 'In the footsteps of Hercules' for Light Night 2011 through the University of Leeds internal bidding system (for an exhibition and stopry-telling in the university) and Leeds City Council's opening call (for activities in the city centre and Leeds City Museum).