The Pobol Prism Residency built on previous participatory research projects that Inga Burrows had produced over the past decade in the South Wales region. The over-arching objective of this series of community specific projects has been to explore ways in which a process of creative engagement can lead to the co-production of a visual art work. One that is authentically expressive of the collective imagination of the host community and that could also offer fresh insights into the value of producing and experiencing contemporary art. In this instance she chose to work with participants who are fictional characters, in the hope that the mask of character would liberate the community to interact with artist in a direct and open manner.
The project took place in the BBC studios Roath Lock, Cardiff in 2014, with the kind permission of Ynyr Williams the Producer of Pobol y Cwm, and funded by Arts Council of Wales and University of South Wales.
Plot and Measure, currently under consideration by Seren, explores space and place in a way that reflects contemporary thinking and the geo-cultural context of Wales. Some of the poems and short prose pieces came out of the site-specific ‘In and Between’ project in which I participated with colleagues from USW. The opening prose poem ‘If You can Think of a Place’ emerged as a reflective response to observing Jodie Allinson and Inga Burrows as they explored the abandoned tidal pool at Barry Island in preparation for filming their witty and evocative installation ‘On Vocation’. I was intrigued by their nuanced, layered, multi-faceted interrogation of the site, which seemed to me simultaneously sensual, critical, aesthetic and playful. It allowed me to see that what we mean by ‘place’ is a melding of multiple frames, discourses, intuitions, perceptions and projections; is at once bodily, cerebral, ideological, linguistic and geographical; is illimitable, shifty, permeable, unstable. At the same time it is crucial to identity and even to survival.
As Jodie and Inga looked and felt and walked and crawled and touched and listened, I saw in their practice something akin to ritual: the performance involved in marking and making a place, drawing the imaginary lines that separate it from generic space. Here was a re-enactment of the immemorial human process involved in turning terrain into territory. Plot and Measure owes a great deal to that day I spent observing, with something like wonder, my colleagues at their richly suggestive work. With this in mind I dedicated a poem to each of them: ‘At Bay’ to Jodie; ‘Silent’ to Inga.
My sense that there was something ritualistic in Jodie and Inga’s procedures, and that they were remaking an ancient inscription – no less contemporary for being so – is reflected in poems that delve into the mythic and legendary origins and determinations of place. The sequence which closes the collection draws on a Norman hagiographical account of the 5th-6th century saint, Cadoc (aka, Catwg, Cathmael, Cadfael), after whom sixteen churches, two wells and one river in south-east Wales, two churches in Glasgow, one in Cornwall and an island in Brittany are named. He was an early contender for patron saint of his native land; he established one of the two earliest seats of learning in Britain (at Llancarfan in the Vale of Glamorgan), yet he is little remembered today and the traces of his existence found in place-names are now all but devoid of cultural resonance. In this sense he is a figure of the fraught relationship between history, legend and place, and of the loss of meaning implied by the slippage between contemporary experience and ancient boundaries and place-names. The recognition, constitution, marking-out and naming of places characteristic of hagiographical lore (and playing a significant role in St Cadoc’s ‘Life’), serve to highlight the viral derealization of place in an age for which Christian names have worn out.
Perhaps works like ‘On Vocation’ and ‘Frame and Flow’ (the poetry film collaboration between Wyn Mason and Philip Gross which formed another strand of ‘In and Between’) help us to remake/re-mark ‘place’ today; serve, maybe, to reinscribe on the landscape of modern Wales the provisional boundaries that shape our sense(s) of identity, however polymorphic and flickering they might be. Plot and Measure tours such hazy perimeters in poetic modes, forms and language that seek to reflect both the irreducibly linguistic character and the infinite plasticity of place.
Interweaving film, poetry, performance and critical reflection, this collaborative practice-as-research (PaR) project involved academics and creative practitioners working in the Faculty of Creative Industries and Faculty of Business and Society, in association with the Centre for the Study of Media and Culture in Small Nations and the Border/Lines Group.
Duration: February 2011 – September 2012
Funding: USW Research Investment Scheme
Research team: Alice Entwistle (Principal Investigator), Jodie Allinson, Inga Burrows, Philip Gross, Stephen Lacey, Wyn Mason, Kevin Mills. With additional administrative support from Huw Jones.
The project aimed to investigate the context in which new, mutli- and inter-disciplinary arts practice can occur and be theorised. It looked to promote and evaluate the synergies and potential for exchange and collaboration between working practices across and between different media, and explored methods of recording and documenting creative practice.
The project resulted in two collaborative artworks:
A third strand involving Alice Entwistle, Kevin Mills and Stephen Lacey drew the two projects together via a series of critical-creative responses. The critical-creative responses and documentation relating to the making of the artworks can be found on project’s Wiki-site.
To establish a critical engagement with the artworks a series of workshops were planned. These aimed to explore the relevant creative/critical cross-currencies and suggest new modes of reflections that could, in turn, influence the development of different outcomes.
The first workshop took place at the ATRiuM on 3 March 2012. Critical friends were invited to preview the two works-in-progress. The workshop also involved a roundtable discussion on the process of collaboration and how the project could develop in the future.
A final symposium was held at the ATRiuM on 12 September 2012. Professor John Schad (Lancaster University) gave a keynote lecture, and audiences were give the chance to view the completed artworks. Alice Entwistle, Kevin Mills and Stephen Lacey also discussed their creative-critical responses to the work. The day ended with two panel discussions – one on creative collaboration, the other on how to establish a critical/creative dialogue – involving academics and creative practitioners.
This report by Dr Paul Carr for the Higher Education Academy follows on from the author’s earlier research on the problems facing the live music industry in Wales. Drawing on a review of recent literature, an online survey and face-to-face interviews with key stakeholders, it considers what training live music practitioners need, how they wish to access it, and how higher education, government and the music industry can better address these needs.
The live music industry in Wales is currently worth about £60 million per year – about 4% of the UK total. Yet, according a report by Dr Paul Carr for the Welsh Music Foundation, Wales is hampered from taking a greater share of the UK’s live music industry, currently worth £1.5 billion, by a lack of specialist venues, slow ticket sales, poor relations between local authorities and promoters, and a shortage of skilled technicians and event managers.
In this new research for the Higher Education Academy, Carr picks up on the issue of how the live music industry can work with higher education to overcome some of these challenges.
The research addresses the following research questions:
A review of literature surrounding issues of employability, government policy and current thinking in the live music sector was initially undertaken. This was accompanied by the implementation of an online questionnaire – in which a range of stakeholders in the Welsh and to a lesser extent the UK live Music Industry were asked to participate. A number of face-to-face interviews with were also arranged with key stakeholders within the Welsh music industry and related sectors.
The final report pointed to research by Creative and Cultural Skills, a government advisory body, which suggests that many graduates are leaving university without the skills and experience the music industry needs. It called on Welsh universities to investigate partnerships with industry to address this skills gap, and highlighted the example of the University of Bolton, which has teamed up with The Backstage Academy, a rehearsal studio with strong industry links, to provide a 15 month foundation degree in Live Events Production.
The report also flagged up a demand amongst those surveyed for more part-time, distance learning and particularly ‘accelerated’ training courses, as well as strategic work placements with industry.
The report has informed policy debates about the training needs of the live music industry. Its findings were initially presented at the 21st Century Music Conference at the University of Kingston on 2 May 2012, and the Interesting Times for Live Music Conference organised by the Live Music Exchange at Leeds College of Music on 4 May 2012.
The report’s call for more flexible, distance-learning courses and strategic work placements was also discussed by a special panel on Skills and Training at the Live Music in Wales Conference, organised by the Live Music Exchange and the Centre for the Study of Media and Culture in Small Nations, at the ATRiuM in November 2012. The event involved representatives from the Welsh Government’s Creative Industries Panel, the Welsh Music Foundation, the Arts Council of Wales, and Creative and Cultural Skills, as well as professional musicians, venue managers and promoters.
This baseline report by Dr Paul Carr for the Welsh Music Foundation examined the issues surrounding the live music industry in Wales, including issues of inward investment, training provision needs, examples of best practice, sales and marketing issues, and the Welsh language sector. Based on questionnaire data and face-to-face interviews with key music industry personnel, it identified the factors which prevent Wales from having a greater share of the UK’s live music industry.
The Welsh live music industry currently constitutes around 4% of the UK total – around £60 million per year. With a population of around 3 million, Wales makes up around 5% of the UK population – so it could be argued that this division of profit seems about right. However, in a globalised economy, Wales as a nation (as opposed to a region of the UK) has an opportunity to focus on specific areas of the live music industry, that would facilitate a greater cut of the £1.5 billion live music currently generates.
This project therefore aimed to identify the factors which prevent Wales from having a greater share of the UK’s live music industry and suggest ways which these could be overcome.
The first stage of the research involved an online questionnaire targeted towards the Welsh music industry. This was closely followed by a range of face-to-face interviews with key industry personnel, who were given the opportunity to elaborate on and introduce specific factors that were relevant to the Welsh music industry. The preliminary findings were then taken into four forum meetings in locations across Wales – Cardiff, Swansea, Caernarfon and Aberystwyth – where the industry at large was given the opportunity to discuss many issues in depth. These forums followed an initial open panel discussion in Newport to launch the research.
The report found that Wales is hampered from taking a greater share of the UK’s live music industry by a lack of specialist venues, slow ticket sales, poor relations between local authorities and promoters, and a shortage of skilled technicians and event managers. It called for better skills and training, seed grants to support bands and promoters, and a more constructive dialogue between industry and local councils. It also called for improved mapping of the live music sector in Wales.
The report was first presented at the Business of Live Music conference organised by the AHRC’s Live Music Exchange at the University of Edinburgh in April 2011. It was also discussed at a number of industry and policy events, including the Hay Festival, the Brecon Jazz Festival and a special coffee-shop debate organised by the Institute for Welsh Affairs, Wales’s leading independent think tank.
The report’s findings have helped to inform the Welsh Music Foundation in its ongoing work in developing the music industry in Wales by way of specialist business support and industry-led representation. The call for a mapping exercise on the live music sector in Wales is currently being implemented as part of the Welsh Government’s Creative Industries Strategy. A follow-up report by Paul Carr for the Higher Education Academy (HEA) also outlines strategies for improving skills and training within the live music industry in Wales.
This project examined the production of television history programming through empirical research of a specific case study, BBC Wales’ The Story of Wales (Green Bay for BBC Wales, 2012). It analysed the commissioning, production and presentation of a landmark national history programme within the specific context of a small nation (Wales) to provide insights into how television intervenes in the construction, revision and remembering of the national past.
In May 2011, BBC Wales issued a commissioning call for a new landmark series on the History of Wales, the first in over 25 years. The Centre subsequently convened a symposium of television commissioners, producers, media scholars and historians to discuss the challenges involved in making a new series on the nation’s history. This drew particular attention to the differing interpretations of Welsh history which the series producers would need to negotiate.
The commission was awarded to Green Bay, an independent television production company based in Cardiff, and its six-part series, The Story of Wales, was broadcast on BBC One Wales in March 2012 and subsequently on BBC 2 across the whole of the UK network in August/September 2012. During the making of the series, Blandford and McElroy were invited to observe how the series was put together. This provided a unique opportunity to examine how programme-makers are involved in the (re)construction of the nation’s past.
The production of television history programme is a rich site for examining the dynamic relationship between history and memory. This project focused on two key research questions:
The research involved a period of non-participant observation of the pre-production stage of The Story of Wales series at Green Bay’s production offices in Cardiff. It also involved semi-structured interviews with key personnel.
The research highlighted the importance of scheduling to the production of The Story of Wales. The decision to commission broadcaster Huw Edwards, a figure who possesses a 'natural’ authority and trustworthiness from reading the news, to present the series was shown to be integral to its strategic aim of connecting with a primetime BBC One audience. Other strategies identified to make complex historical processes more televisual included the use of historical artefacts, reconstructions using actors, and computer generated images (CGI) – each of which carried both risks and benefits to the integrity and appeal of the series.
The research underlined the role of national histories in the construction of memory and national identity at a time when the legitimacy of nations and states is under question and when governmental and political settlements are shifting within the UK.
Further research aims to investigate just how memorable the series proves to be and the kind of relationship with a wider audiences that the programme-makers manage to achieve.
The research resulted not only in traditional research outputs in the form of a journal article and conference paper. It also led to the development of new teaching material for students and offered insights for the programme-makers themselves.
John Geraint, Green Bay’s Creative Director, said: “We are delighted that Professor Blandford and Dr McElroy have been observing our editorial and production processes in the making of a major commission for BBC Wales. It’s important that academics teaching in the area of television studies experience practical issues and choices faced by programme makers. In turn, they will be able to feed their insights back to us which will inform our practice.
“We would certainly work with this team/department again as they have an exemplary approach to matters of trust and sensitivity, as well as being highly experienced in the field.”
Steve Blandford and Ruth McElroy presenting at the
Narratives and Social Memory Conference, University of Minho, Portugal 2012.
This major report for the BBC Trust and Audience Council Wales examined the representation of Wales in landmark BBC television drama made in Wales. Published in March 2010, the report draws on interviews with audiences and textual analysis of popular shows like Dr Who and Torchwood, to shed light on the complex relationship between television production, its locations, and the impact of local, regional and national identity.
Duration: January 2009 – March 2010
Funding: BBC Trust/Audience Council Wales
Research team: Steve Blandford (Principal Investigator), Stephen Lacey, Ruth McElory, and Rebecca Williams (Research Assistant)
In 2008, the King report on BBC news coverage described Wales as 'the invisible nation’ on UK television screens. Screening the Nation directly addressed the Audience Council Priority for 2009/10, adopted by the BBC Trust in January 2009:
The Trust should investigate ways in which the BBC might better portray the full diversity of the UK’s nation and communities in the regions of England, across its Network services, significantly enhancing the cultural representation of the English regions, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In January 2009, the project team was granted £20,000 by the Audience Council Wales to conduct the research. This covered the cost of employing a Research Assistant, conducting focus groups and other project expenses. Researchers’ time was covered by the University.
The research involved a variety of qualitative research methods. These included: a review of literature on media representation and national identity in small nations; eight focus groups across Wales; an online questionnaire of 200 respondents; a systematic review of local, national and UK-wide press coverage of Doctor Who and Torchwood; textual analysis of individual programmes and series. The research was conducted over 12 months, during which time regular progress reports were made to the Audience Council Wales.
The findings of the research were published in a 40,000 word report entitled: Screening the Nation: Wales Landmark Television. A Master Copy and Executive Summary of the report are available to download.
The core findings were as follows:
In this video, Professor Steve Blandford, who led the research, talks to Arun Midha of the Audience Council Wales in more detail about the research and its findings. (Produced by the BBC Audience Council Wales).
The report was launched on 5 March 2010 at a special seminar chaired by Chitra Bharucha, the Vice Chair of the BBCTrust. Responses to the report were given by Professor Máire Messenger Davies (University of Ulster), Dr Enric Castelló(Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Catalonia) and Dr John Cook (Glasgow Caledonian University). Members of our focus groups were also invited to take part in the seminar.
Janet Lewis-Jones, BBC National Trustee for Wales, said at the launch: “The University of Glamorgan has conducted very interesting research on the issue of portrayal, involving both internet based research and eight face-to-face focus groups in various parts of Wales. Their report offers a perspective which will contribute to the work of the ACW and the Trust during the months and years to come”.
The report is mentioned in the BBC Audience Council Wales Annual Reviews 2008-09 (p.6) and 2009-10 (p.6), and received coverage on the BBC News Website, the Western Mail, the South Wales Echo, and the Mail on Sunday. The report’s findings helped to inform the Centre’s submission to the National Assembly for Wales task and finish group on the future outlook of the media in Wales.
As well as producing a final report for the BBC Trust/Audience Council Wales, the research team have collaborated on several outputs for the academic press:
This public engagement project led by Dr Paul Carr looked at ways of increasing music participation amongst young people of Wales. Based on interviews and focus groups conducted by student outreach workers, the project helped to secure the long-term future of the Welsh Junior Rock Music Academy, based at the ATRiuM in Cardiff.
Duration: January 2009 – September 2009
Funding: Beacons for Wales (part of Beacons for Public Engagement)
Research Team: Paul Carr. With support from University of Glamorgan students.
The Welsh Junior Rock Music Academy was established in 2008 to provides talented students who would not others be able to afford music tuition the opportunity to participate in instrumental lessons, ensemble workshops and technology classes at the ATRiuM in Cardiff. The Academy is run by University of South Wales Faculty for Creative Industries in partnership with Roland UK.
This research project looked at ways of increasing participation in the Junior Rock Music Academy project amongst 11 to 19 year olds.
University of Glamorgan students, under the supervision of Paul Carr, went into four schools in Cardiff and Rhondda Cynon Taf and conducted interviews and focus groups with the pupils aged between 11 -19 years old. Afterwards, the pupils were invited to ATRiuM and partake in workshops and activities, including recording a small project.
Watch a video of the students at work: https://youtu.be/p9Cfu-bsIyU
The project enabled local school children to lean about the work which goes on at the ATRiuM. According to Paul Carr, it helped to demystify the university experience for children:
“The prime object of this project was to attempt to break down any barriers that are there, and it was surprising how many children were either considering any or already taking GCSE music who were not even aware of the ATRiuM’s existence.”
The project helped secure the long term development of the Junior Rock Music Academy and gave University of Glamorgan undergraduates the opportunity to gain valuable teaching experience. One student has since been accepted onto a teacher training college, while others were offered work in one of the participating schools.
The University of Glamorgan itself has also benefited from the project. Staff and researchers have been able to build relationships with both school teachers and their pupils as a result of the project.
This project focused on Independent Local Radio (ILR) in Wales. By exploring how radio stations relate to their localities and to questions of public interest, it examined how ILR can assist in the achievement of public and social policy objectives in a post-devolutionary climate. It analysed the relationship between ILR and the communities it serves by investigating the history, regulation, institutional structures and broadcast output of selected radio stations in Wales.
Duration: December 2001 – July 2003
Funding: ESRC (Ref. 000223668)
Research team: David Barlow, Philip Mitchell, Tom O’Malley (Aberystwyth University)
The project relied on archival research (e.g. public policy documents, parliamentary debates, newspapers); qualitative individual and group interviews (e.g. personal at ILR stations, business sponsors, volunteers and community organisations); and qualitative and quantitative content analysis of the broadcast output of all the selected stations.
The findings of the project were disseminated through academic outputs (see below) and presentations at the following conferences:
Barlow’s research on independent radio has supported the Centre’s subsequent research on community radio in Wales. This work has provided extensive benefits for community radio stations, their workers and volunteers.
The models of community participation established by the members of the Centre, in partnership with Glyntaff Tenants and Residents Association, contributed to the development of Wales’ first community radio station, GTFM. The station, based in Pontypridd, is listened to by 27% of the town’s population, and provides training and broadcast experience for local residents, improving skills and social capital in an area of high deprivation.
Building on this experience, members of the Centre have taken a lead in establishing, with support from the Welsh Government, the Welsh Community Radio Stations Network, through which to share expertise and best practice throughout Wales and the UK. They have also helped develop community radio stations in other small nations, such as Laos, where staff were invited by UN Development Programme and the Laos Government to deliver community radio workshops at the National University of Laos.