Taking Yourselves Seriously and the Association of Researchers in Community and Voluntary Sectors (ARVAC)
This was a discussion between Jayne Humm from ARVAC and the research team from Taking Yourselves Seriously.
We started by discussing the Big Local. Jayne Humm (ARVAC) informed the group about the Big Local project: £240 million, covering 150 areas, to be spent by 2027. A series of partnerships will take place, involving local residents, to make local areas better places to live in. The Big Local project is funded by the National Lottery. The initiative involves £1 million worth of funding per area, provided directly to residents so as to allow them to pull together partnerships and find out what their community wants and for them to decide how to spend the money, and come up with a plan spanning 10 years: people from the community helping people in the community. It is taking time to work the whole thing out, though, due to some people having led flagship projects, some being slow to get going, and some needing to engage the community more before they commence.
The question is: how do we capture some of what we are doing?
We discussed evaluation of community projects. The TYS Project comes alive when we talk about it, more than the written word or filming it, and the challenge will be in capturing that. As part of the evaluation it will be important to: look at spaces for participation, partnerships and decision making; look at community spaces; unpack and analyse the project, and establish how it gets converted into something meaningful.
Furthermore, it is important to evaluate the continuation of communities who have started fantastic projects but then are moved somewhere else when the experts have moved on. It is also important to tell the stories which wouldn’t have happened if money hadn’t been there and the power dynamics of people coming together to create and influence change.
The project will enable the catalytic vitality of interaction and experience change in people at a face-to-face level, enabling conversations which bring the project to life.
A research network of unpublished knowledge will be inspiring and, moreover, destabilise what research is: it is about moving into a different space and identifying what a different mode of research looks like.
Arts methodologies for social cohesion involve:
- Complexity/multiple perspectives
- Dispersed subjectivity – collective creative work, e.g. Zanib’s interviews
- Relational work that moves between ideas and doing things
- Non-linguistic forms of knowledge production – making, drawing, embodied articulation, feeling
- Belonging and site specific work as key to practice
- Re-framing perceptions, making meaning differently