Learning and Participation Research
- 1 - Arts & Health
- 2 - Arts and Health
- 3 - Older adults
- 4 - Younger People
- 5 - Arts & Mueums
Our Research and Learning & Participation departments often work closely together in researching and evaluating our extensive participatory programmes in music and dance.
The research spans a range of topics including arts and health, older adults, children and young people, and arts and museums, as well as engaging with questions about how to demonstrate and disseminate the different kinds of impact of participatory arts.
Trinity Laban has been involved in a number of research projects in recent years which have sought to measure the impact of dance and arts within community settings.
(2022-2023) Uses arts-based methods to explore the lived experience of chronic pain. The co-produced pilot study involves an arts facilitator, occupational therapist, academic, and experts by experience (people living with chronic pain) to set the research agenda, identify research priorities, and co-design the project. Project lead: Dr Rebecca Stancliffe.
(2022, 2016) Beyond the Walls is an innovative piece of interactive choreography for public performance which conjures the lived experience of Reminiscence Arts activity in a dementia care home. The work offers an alternative, person-centred and democratised means of generating and disseminating research data, notably through the performance’s capacity to spark various modes of empathy and to enact the idea of ‘embodied selfhood’.
(2019-2021) considered the distinctive aesthetic, artistic and creative contributions that dance can make to health and wellbeing. The collaborative research found that dance impacted on health and wellbeing in key areas including sense of identity, belonging and feelings of self-worth. Factors such as touch, vulnerability, affect, presence, trust and embodiment were identified as key issues in dance for health, but little understood and worthy of greater attention. The research calls for co-research with participants and more cross-sector research involving dance and health partners. The need for new scales and methodologies that measure and capture dance on its own terms was highlighted, along with better use of film and individual testimony to illustrate the benefits of dance to a wider audience.
(2021) comprised programmes for people living with long-term lung conditions, chronic pain, and Parkinson’s Disease. Evaluation findings include the impact of singing on wellbeing, singing as a coping mechanism, and reflections on in-person, online, and hybrid delivery. The programme was a development of Trinity Laban’s Singing for Lung Health (2019, 2020), a community singing class aimed at people living with long-term lung conditions which was delivered in partnership with Greenwich and Lewisham NHS Trust. This study aimed to capture the physical, psychological and social impact of weekly singing class for people with long-term lung conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), asthma and pulmonary fibrosis. The study was undertaken by Professor Emma Redding and Dr Rebecca Stancliffe with the Learning and Participation departments.
In Spring 2020, Trinity Laban’s participatory arts programmes moved online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Research conducted by Dr Rebecca Stancliffe explored how video conferencing tools transformed practices of teaching and learning. Mediating experience: Online community arts participation, a postphenomenological framing (Stancliffe, 2021) published in Performance in a Pandemic contemplates how Zoom and digital media both extend and disrupt participant experience and argues for the potential of remote delivery for widening participation in the community arts.
Dancing for Health is a weekly creative dance programme for adults who have experienced an acquired brain injury (ABI) or stroke that focuses on creativity and ability over disability. Research (2017) explored participants’ experiences and the perceived benefits of the programme. The research was a collaboration between King’s College London’s Academic Department of Physiotherapy in the School of Population, Health and Environmental Sciences (SPHES) and Trinity Laban’s, supported by the Cultural Institute at King’s.
Research exploring older people and the participatory arts has tended to focus on notions of biomedical impact, often coupled with appeals to evasive notions of ‘‘well-being.’’ Rather than suggesting such approaches are invalid, Beyond health and well-being: transformation, memory and the virtual in older people’s music and dance (2015) proposes the need for their extension and proposes an alternative, critical approach to analysing older people’s experience of arts participation.
In Spring 2020 the delivery of Trinity Laban’s classes, workshops, and projects moved online in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This research seeks to understand more about how video conferencing tools, such as Zoom, influenced and transformed practices of teaching and learning. The project examines two key areas: the lived experience of remote participation in community arts practice and the agency of digital tools and objects in co-constituting arts practice.
Research Article: Mediating Experience: Online Community Arts Participation, A Postphenomenological Framing (in press)
Author: Rebecca Stancliffe
Abstract: During the COVID-19 pandemic, performing arts activities moved from studios and practice rooms into people’s homes with the adoption of video conferencing tools. Focusing on an arts and health singing programme and a community arts class, this chapter examines how the digital media involved in remote delivery and participation shapes and transforms lived experience. Adopting a postphenomenological lens, an empirical methodology that examines human-technology relations, Zoom is revealed to be a non-neutral mediator of experience. Triangulating data from participant observation, interviewing objects, and semi-structured interviews draws attention to the role of the screen in spatial orientation, how the mute button transforms singing, and the impact of latency on conversational flow. The chapter contemplates how Zoom and digital media both extend and disrupt participant experience, and argues for the potential of remote delivery for widening participation in the community arts.
Author: Dr Kate Wakeling
Abstract: This article explores the role of the ‘reflective practitioner’ in participatory arts projects with older people, as articulated by creative practitioners themselves. Research into participatory arts activity with older people which focuses on the process rather than the outcome of such activity remains sparse, as does scholarship which engages closely with artist-practitioners themselves as a rich source of knowledge and insight in this field. Supported by theory concerning the development and utility of reflective praxis (Schön 1983, Neelands 2006), the article foregrounds the perspectives of a range of experienced artist-practitioners, as obtained through interviews and the findings of a ‘reflective learning group’ practitioner CPD programme.
Research found that the creative practitioners consulted had developed a range of diverse reflective practices in order to engage and nurture the older participants they worked with, including: highly flexible and dialogic approaches; seeking ‘kinaesthetic empathy’ with participants; applying a form of ‘micro-responsiveness’ to participants; and fostering strong reflective practices among participants themselves. These findings hold important implications as to how we understand the processes by which practitioners enhance participant experience in the participatory arts, how creative practitioners are best supported in their work, and for the design, management and evaluation of participatory arts projects.
Literature Review: Creativity and Subjective Well Being among Older People: A Literature Review
Abstract: This literature review explores research that investigates the relationship between creative participation (with a focus on music and dance) and the notion of subjective well‐being among older people. The review examines the growing body of research that has sought to establish the specific benefits of participatory arts activity on older people’s well‐being, but is particularly focused on what might be cautiously termed more ‘active’ forms of creative engagement, such as devising and improvising. In highlighting this particular form of creative participation, the review also seeks to explore and unpick the somewhat slippery notions of ‘creativity’ and ‘wellbeing’ more critically. It will review a range of theoretical approaches to these concepts and identify a variety of more exploratory qualitative methodologies that have been (or might be) applied in the investigation of this field.
The ‘Inspired not Tired’ programme of work was created in 2011 by the Learning and Participation teams (Music and Dance) at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance and is funded by Lewisham Council. The programme is specifically targeted at older people aged 60 and above from Lewisham and includes a mixture of music, dance and combined music & dance groups, providing regular opportunities for participants to take part in creative activity, interact socially and develop new skills.
Sessions are led by experienced practitioners from the Trinity Laban’s Learning and Participation department, supported by a team of project managers. Each group in ‘Retired not Tired’ has a creative focus: practitioners work with participants’ ideas, skills and creative talents (on whatever level these may be and including those beyond solely music and dance) to produce their own creative outputs. Groups have been specifically programmed in different geographical locations around the borough and reach a range of different sub-groups of older people, in terms of age, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.
Evaluation (2012 – 2015)
Qualiative research (2017-2019) assessed to impact of an extra-curricular music programme funded by Youth Music. The partnership between a secondary school and a conservatoire on the musical engagement of young people in challenging circumstances.
Dancing Ahead was a collaborative research project between Trinity Laban’s Dance Science and Learning & Participation (dance) departments. This report (2015) documents the dance science research findings, which was one element of a larger evaluative report on the dance participatory project titled Dancing Ahead. Dancing Ahead is funded by Headstart Lewisham, an initiative supported by Big Lottery, to improve the emotional wellbeing of 10 to 14 year-olds. Lewisham is one of 12 areas in England to receive a grant. Trinity Laban’s dance science research of Dancing Ahead was conducted alongside a larger evaluation commissioned by HeadStart Lewisham whose findings are yet to be published.
Hosted by The Greenwich Dance & Trinity Laban Partnership, the 2015 Co Motion performance platform brought together inclusive contemporary dance performances and newly-created dance films from a variety of mixed-ability dance groups and companies. Participating groups included Cando2, Magpie Dance, ImPULSE Youth Dance, Trinity Laban’s Dance Ability groups and Youth Company, alongside participants from Charlton Park Academy and local Greenwich primary, Foxfield school. The platform included a number of new works specially commissioned by the partnership and the screening of two new dance films.
The Dance & Museums Working Together Symposium took place at the Horniman Museum and Gardens (‘the Horniman’) on Thursday 27 November 2014. Its purpose was to bring dance organisations and museums together to share learning and ideas and to explore the opportunities and challenges presented by collaboration. The Symposium was produced by the Horniman and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance out of a desire to share learning from their own five year partnership and from an external evaluation of their most recent collaboration, Horniman’s Curious Tea Party.
Symposium Report: Content Analysis & Recommendations January 2015
Author: Emma McFarland, Consultant eMc Arts
Two of our Inspired not Tired facilitators, Zoe Gilmour (artist, musician) and Natasha Lohan (composer, musician), have been curating a blog, Pause and Replay, reflecting on creative activity, lifelong learning and what it’s like to be delivering arts programmes during Covid19 lockdown.Read the blog
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Our public programmes attract participants of all ages, whatever their background or ability.