Our new university network, Creative @ Cardiff, met for the third time yesterday. We explored knowledge exchange and the lessons learnt from Cardiff University’s involvement with the REACT project. We were lucky enough to have an opening talk from Jo Lansdowne and Katherine Jewkes, Producers from Bristol’s Watershed who have worked closely on REACT with all five partner universities.
In calling this talk ‘Lemon Jousting in a Lecture Theatre’ they invited us to step away from the traditional academic seminar and understand a bit more about the free-thinking approach to knowledge exchange encompassed in Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio and REACT. For those that are wondering, lemon jousting involves attempting to keep a lemon on a wooden spoon, whilst knocking other people’s lemons off their spoons. We’ve seen it; it certainly gets people engaging with one another!
Between the insights into the creative process of REACT from Jo and Katherine, and specific examples of projects by Cardiff University academics, Anthony Mandal and Jenny Kidd, a number of key lessons seemed to emerge. All of our speakers were keen to emphasise the positives of these partnerships between academics and the creative economy, articulating the richness in learning from each others’ skills and experiences. The academics explained the ways in which knowledge exchange can inform research and send you in new directions, and the way that this form of collaboration is a journey that both challenges and benefits people’s working cultures.
Whilst not many in the room were currently engaged in this kind of collaborative activity a large number of attendees expressed an interest in taking part in knowledge exchange or transdisciplinary working. Between us, we identified a number of key factors in taking this enthusiasm and turning it into opportunity. As academics and creative industry practitioners we need a more developed awareness of the kinds of funding available for this kind of work.
We also need the spaces within which it can be carried out – Anthony in particular was keen to emphasise the positive role that Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio played in allowing creativity to develop in an environment that exists outside the parameters of the traditional university space.
We can also learn more about the role that Producers like Jo and Katherine can play in developing and nurturing these relationships between sectors that have traditionally been rather removed from one another, helping to find routes around the inevitable challenges that partnership working throws up. REACT has set a precedent and there is clearly an appetite to learn from these examples and make exciting things happen.