15 Lisa Stansbie installation

ROTOЯ – Engaging new audiences through cultural arts programmes

Researchers based at the University of Huddersfield have, supported by Arts Council policies and funding, introduced new audiences to contemporary art and design through the ROTOЯ programme of exhibitions and events.

As well as raising awareness, inspiring curiosity and providing
cultural enrichment, the programme has initiated changes to local authority policies on providing cost-effective, high-quality cultural services. The impact ROTOЯ has had on the community has been a prime example of local authority and university sectors working together to offer innovative public services whilst generating and measuring engagement.

A push for growth in the arts sector

In 2010 a Work Foundation report warned that the UK’s creative industries were at risk of failing to fulfil their potential to drive growth and innovation. The drive for greater engagement and collaboration has been supported by Arts Council policy goals aiming to attract and inspire new audiences to ensure the arts sector is sustainable.

Drawing on research to inform exhibitions

Launched in 2012 in partnership with Huddersfield Art Gallery, the ROTOЯ programme aimed to address these concerns by providing a broad spectrum of exhibitions to engage and involve a wide range of new audiences with the UK’s diverse creative and cultural industries. ROTOЯ is underpinned by and continues to nurture research into public engagement and impact measurement, particularly in relation to how practice based research can be communicated effectively beyond academia.

From model aeroplanes to mining culture

ROTOЯ exhibitions have covered a diverse range of forms and subject material, including Flight, an exhibition of work by Dr Lisa Stansbie exploring the idea of ‘flight’ through sculpture, film and the use of re-appropriated Airfix model aeroplane kits, Insufficient Allure, a curated exhibition by Dr Kevin Almond and Kathryn Brennand investigating historical and contemporary aspects of creative pattern cutting, and Mining Couture, an exhibition by Claire Barber and Professor Steve Swindells exploring conceptual connections between coal mining and fashion through the metaphor
of ‘seam’.

The first programme of exhibitions attracted over 14,300 visitors, increasing access, opportunity and understanding of the arts for a diverse range of new audiences.

Through a programme of exhibitions developed and delivered in partnership with the local authority, ROTOЯ has transformed public views on the significance of contemporary art and design and initiated change to local authority policy decisions to provide cost-effective, high-quality cultural services. It has also generated practical models, good practice and further research on public engagement strategies for partnerships between universities and cultural sectors.

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