Guest Blog: Professor Anne Douglas’ AHRC Funded Research ‘Cultural leadership and the place of the artist’

In this guest blog from Professor Anne Douglas, Gray’s School of Art, Anne explains the significance of her team’s current AHRC funded research Cultural leadership and the place of the artist (2015-16) and emphasises the importance of European collaboration in conducting this research. To see more on this funded work visit:–2015-16/

“Thinking Public”

On the 22nd June, the day before the referendum, RGU Senior Research Fellow, Jon Price, delivered the keynote of European Network on Cultural Management and Policy’s (ENCATC) 6th policy debate focusing on our current AHRC funded research into Cultural Leadership and the place of the artist. ENCATC is one of four partners in our current research On The Edge (OTE)  which also includes Creative Scotland and Clore Leadership Foundation. The debate was attended by a number of prominent figures from arts and culture throughout Europe including a number of policy officers from the European Commission.

Looking back, this was a poignant moment in the UK’s relationship with Europe. It marked one of many extraordinary opportunities to engage in discussion with European partners, widening our horizon of understanding across national borders, expertise and experience. This opportunity for debate now seems remarkably precious.

OTE’s research into leadership in the arts and culture from 2006 onwards has, in all of its three phases, been mindful of the social, cultural and political conditions in which the discourse on leadership has unfolded. The research has evolved in three distinct phases.

The first phase of AHRC funded Artist as Leader research (2006-9) emerged in response to the Cox Review (2005) that had been commissioned to foreground the role of creativity in industrial growth. Critical of the economist and instrumental values of the Creative Industries reflected in that report, our research at the time drew attention to the missing voice of the artist and opened up leadership to a different perspective– What might leadership mean to the arts? Might the experiences of artists enrich and extend the meaning of leadership in new ways?

The second phase, The Discourse of Cultural leadership (2016), Jon’s doctoral study, drew the findings of the Artist as Leader research into a new context in which the rhetoric of growth was now displaced by a new rhetoric of resilience, represented in part through a significant reduction in public funding, particularly to the arts and culture. This economic change required us to think differently about leadership. The artist needed to be placed i.e. imagined in relation to everything else, to be conceived as part of a much greater and more complex cultural dynamic that we had previously envisaged.

To this end Jon has provided us with some key concepts. Drawing on the work of Hannah Arendt, he traces leading as a movement in which there is a beginning that necessitates a following through, or completion. Leadership therefore cannot be atomised in the persona of ‘the strong man.’ It is a process, one that is subject to the boundlessness, unpredictability and plurality of life itself, concepts that Arendt laid out in her key text The Human Condition (1958). The originality of Jon’s thinking lies in tracing the implications of these characterisations for new possible ways of being in civic space in 21st century and its particular conditions.

This brings us to the present. At no point in the history of UK’s politics has political leadership been more absent, along with appropriate civic processes that shape and inform public opinion. What we are currently experiencing is not the kind of fluidity and responsiveness implied by Arendt’s unpredictability, boundlessness and plurality. These demand quality of relationship, of trust and of a certain improvisatory skill in keeping going. In contrast both in the UK and Europe, we are experiencing disintegration of the public sphere and public values.  This constitutes a significant challenge to the third research phase of the research Cultural Leadership and the place of the artist (2015-16) and its remit to disseminate the earlier phases research and further engage public debate on the issues.

Professor Annick Schramme of University of Antwerp’s Management School pointed out in her introduction to the debate on 22nd June that cultural leadership in a European context needs to take account of globalisation, migration and digitisation, all outwardly focused forms of engagement. She noted that in many ways the discourse of leadership has emerged at a moment of crisis in the arts and culture in relation to value. There are few ‘free spaces’ left in which to frame and debate questions of value. Throughout the discussion we became more and more aware of the implicit tension in leadership as a construct – the desire on the one hand to reach out and take risks through pioneering work and, on the other, a counterforce that consolidates and sustains. Leadership in management is frequently defined in terms of the latter, instituting hierarchies that value loyalty over judgement and the subjectivity of individual forms of action.

While these apparently contradictory forces inevitably co-exist and co-constitute public life, Philipp Dietachmair of the Tandem network, revived a sensibility that we can so easily lose sight of. Tandem is an Amsterdam based network funded by the European Cultural Foundation that supports long-term cooperation, knowledge development and networking opportunities between cultural managers across the EU and beyond. Philipp discussed leadership through his experience of co-ordinating small scale projects with Turkey and Eastern Europe, contexts in which, he suggested, we do not have the luxury of not thinking public.

In the shock waves of referendum and post referendum behaviours, we again do not have the luxury of not thinking public.

Our research will continue next week in a second workshop to be held at Bozar, in the centre of Brussels, 12th July 2016, 10.00 – 4.00 pm within Bozar’s current exhibition, Facing the Future Art in Europe 1945-68. It will seek to question the curatorial statement that the year of 1968 “ brought to a close an extremely productive period for a playful, utopian and activist form of art” (author’s emphasis). We will draw on art practices that have emerged since 1968, practices that manifest a leading role in terms of ‘thinking public’ by working within the prevailing conditions and in so doing, create, in quite grounded and practical ways, a new sense of possibility.

The three questions with which Jon ended his presentation on 22nd June are relevant to this new discussion

  • How should training provision for the cultural sector respond to definitions of leadership that go beyond the individual?
  • Can leadership training accommodate questions of social and cultural value as well as organisational effectiveness?
  • How can our policy making cope with unpredictability and create space for the role of the artist in public life?

Anne Douglas is a Professor in Robert Gordon University’s Grays School of Art. Her research re-examines the role of the professional artist as a catalyst for social change, including environmental and economic.

Friday Funding #5: Social Change

Welcome to the 5th edition of Friday Funding. There are some really good calls on this week’s theme, Social Change. Featured funders are AHRC, ESRC, DRILL (Big Lottery), NIHR and Wellcome Trust.

Call Title: GCRF / PaCCS: Inter-Disciplinary Research Innovation Awards on Conflict and International Development
Funder: AHRC/ESRC      Funding Available: £100k      Deadline: 28 July 16
Summary: AHRC and the ESRC, working together as a part of the conflict theme of the Partnership for Conflict Crime and Security Research (PaCCS), have issued a joint call for Interdisciplinary Research Innovation Awards on Conflict and International Development. This call is funded from the initial allocations the AHRC and ESRC under the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).This call aims to support inter-disciplinary research innovation and international collaboration focused on the interconnections between conflict and international development and with the potential to contribute to the welfare (broadly defined) and/or economic development of Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs).
Link to Funder’s Page: Here

Call Title: Translating Cultures and Care for the Future Research Innovation Awards on International Development
Funder: AHRC      Funding Available: £100k      Deadline: 21 July 17
Summary: The call is a joint initiative between the AHRC’s Translating Cultures and Care for the Future themes. Awards will be funded through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). Projects will be expected to take innovative, collaborative and adventurous approaches to development-focused topics pertinent to the Translating Cultures and Care for the Future themes
Link to Funder’s Page: Here

Call Title: Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning’ (DRILL)
Funder: DRILL (through Big Lottery)     Funding Available: £150k      Deadline: 27 July 16
Summary: Grants to carry out research and establish pilot projects on subjects reflecting the priorities of disabled people.  Partnerships, which include combinations of disabled people, their organisations, academics and potentially others, are expected to come together to develop and submit applications and, if funded, deliver their project through a process of coproduction. Disabled people will be at the forefront of designing and delivering these projects.  The purpose is to build a better evidence base about approaches that enable disabled people to achieve independent living – to have choice and control over their lives in ways non-disabled people take for granted. The evidence produced from the projects funded by DRILL will be used to inform future policy and service provision, and give a greater voice to disabled people on the issues that impact on them.
Link to Funder’s Page: Here

Call Title: Public Health Research commissioned funding opportunities
Funder: NIHR     Funding Available: Various      Deadline: 15 August 16/5 December 16
Summary: NIHR have some great calls at the moment for research on public health. The PHR Programme funds research to generate evidence to inform the delivery of non-NHS interventions, specifically, we provide new knowledge on the benefits, costs, acceptability and wider impacts of non-NHS interventions intended to improve the health of the public and reduce inequalities in health. Topics include ‘Loneliness and unwanted social isolation,’ ‘Community Engagement’ and ‘Preventing Road Injuries’ for example.
Link to Funder’s Page: Here

Call Title: Seed Awards in Humanities and Social Science
Funder: Wellcome Trust     Funding Available: £25k-£50k      Deadline: 5 August 16
Summary: Seed Awards help researchers develop compelling and innovative ideas that may go on to form part of larger grant applications. proposals that aim to develop new approaches or collaborations in the humanities and social sciences and enrich our understanding of human and animal health. Activities can include: pilot and scoping studies, planning sessions, meeting of collaborative networks.
Link to Funder’s Page: Here


If you are interested in applying for any of these calls please contact in the first instance.

The next theme will be Decommissioning


Funding Opportunities: Check out these ESRC calls and pre-calls

ESRCCheck out these funding calls and pre-calls from ESRC

wellcomeCall for Science Learning+ Partnership Grants. Partnership Grants under Science Learning+. International initiative ESRC / Wellcome Trust / National Science Foundation (USA)  Deadline 14 June 2016


Trans-Atlantic Platform: Digging into Data Challenge  ESRC / AHRC on behalf of the Trans-Atlantic Platform (T-AP). Launch of the T-AP Digging into Data Challenge. Deadline 29 June 2016


ESRC-NSFC Newton Call for collaborative research and networking opportunity  Developing financial systems to support sustainable growth in China. ESRC / National Science Foundation of China (NSFC). Developing financial systems to support sustainable growth in China. Deadline 20 July 2016


dfid (2)ESRC-DFID Raising Learning Outcomes in Education Systems Research Programme – 2016 call ESRC / DFID. Raising Learning Outcomes in Education Systems Research Programme. Deadline 26 July 2016.


ahrcInnovation awards under PaCCS focusing on Conflict and International Development. ESRC / AHRC. Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research (PaCCS) focusing on Conflict and International Development. (Pre-call.)


Tackling antimicrobial resistance: behaviour within and beyond the healthcare setting .We are planning to announce a call for both smaller pump priming grants and larger collaborative research grants  (Pre-call.)


jrfEvidence centre on UK housing. ESRC,/ Joseph Rowntree Foundation / AHRC  invite collaborative applications to establish an evidence centre for UK housing. Deadline 1 October 2016


Find out more

Funding Opportunity: AHRC Sustainable Development

The Arts and Humanities Research Council has invited proposals exploring the role of arts and humanities research in international development and sustainable development. The council’s Research Networking Scheme will offer up to £30,000 for proposals that support the development of international boundary-crossing collaborations with countries on the Official Development Assistance list. The closing date for applications is 31 May.  Find out more

Friday Funding # 1: Sustainability

Welcome to a new weekly blog post for funding opportunities. Each week we will be listing a selection of funding calls relating to a specific theme. This week’s theme is Sustainability.

Please see the following opportunities below:

Call Title: Environment and Sustainability Research Grants
Funder: Royal Geographical Society    Funding Available: £10k
Deadline: 09 May 16
Summary: Awards to researchers within 10 years of completing their PhD, for projects investigating some of the bigger issues of environmental sustainability including, but not limited to, water and development, energy security, and urban migration.
Link to Funder’s Page:

Call Title: Newton Institutional Links
Funder: British Council/Newton Fund     Funding Available: £50k-£300k
Deadline: 27 June 16
Summary: Aims to build UK-partner country research and innovation collaborations centred on shared research and innovation challenges which have direct relevance to social welfare and economic development.
Link to Funder’s Page:

Call Title: EPSA-2016 Grants
Funder: NERC/EPSA     Funding Available: £50k-£200k
Deadline: 17 May 16
Summary: Research synthesis projects designed to significantly advance global understanding on the way that ecosystem services contribute to poverty alleviation. The call will fund a set of projects that build upon the scientific advances and evidence generated by ESPA (Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation) projects.
Link to Funder’s Page:

Call Title: Development and implementation phase grants
Funder: Humanitarian Innovation Fund     Funding Available: £75k – £150k    
EOI by 24 May 16
Summary: Development of an innovation by creating practical, actionable plans and guidelines. Turning ideas into action, the development stage takes designs from the drawing board and transforms them into real-world solutions.
Link to Funder’s Page:

Call Title: International Development in the Research Networking Scheme
AHRC     Funding Available: £30k
31 May 16
Summary: This notice encourages research networking proposals which explore the contribution that arts and humanities research can play in debates about international development and/or to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It also seeks to support the development of international boundary crossing collaborations with countries which receive Official Development Assistance (ODA) and/or with organisations which play an important role in supporting international development.
Link to Funder’s Page:

Call Title: Open calls
Global Innovation Fund     Funding Available: £30k – £10 million
Summary:  Investment designed to support innovations on their path to scale. Will also support some of the promising innovations that will change the development landscape that are currently only in their infancy. Flexibility to support innovators from early stage field pilots right through to large scale innovations.
Link to Funder’s Page:


If you have found an opportunity you would like to apply for please let the Research Support team know via

Next Week’s theme will be Digital Communities/ Digital Health.


Funding Award : On the Edge – Cultural Leadership and the Place of the Artist

Prof Anne Douglas, Dr Jon Price and Chris Fremantle have been awarded follow on funding from the AHRC to build on and develop their work in cultural leadership and the place of the artist.

This  continues a decade long exploration of artistic and cultural leadership by the On The Edge Research team. Findings from recent research will be presented and their implications debated with an invited group of cultural professionals from across the partnership that includes Creative Scotland, The Clore Leadership Programme (London) and ENCATC (Brussels), a European network on cultural management and policy.  The methodology was piloted at Woodend Barn, Banchory in March. There will be subsequent events in 2016 in Edinburgh, Brussels and London with the full partnership.

The research explores the meaning of leadership to experienced artists, policy makers and producers through a series of in-depth conversations with leading figures in the arts and cultural sectors. To this point these have included Jackie Kay – recently appointed as Scotland’s Makar (Poet Laureate) – as well as Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of the South Bank Centre, and Sue Hoyle, Chief Executive of the Clore Leadership Programme, among others.

The research seeks to move beyond familiar approaches that view leadership purely as the good governance of organisations through identifiable skills and competencies. The research findings stress the importance of artists/cultural producers seeing their situation as relational and interdependent, artists with policy makers and with the public.  Rosanna Irvine, dancer and choreographer, has been appointed as the project’s artist in residence, tracking each of the four events through a creative response to the discussions.


Professor Anne Douglas (PI

Dr Jonathan Price Senior Research Fellow

Visit the project research pages on the On the Edge website , Artist as Leader


Funding award: Success for HAIVAIRN

Dr Colin Macduff, in collaboration with Glasgow School of Art, has recently been awarded an AHRC grant for a new Healthcare Associated Infection Visualisation and Ideation Research Network (HAIVAIRN).

Building from two previous AHRC funded research and knowledge transfer grants, the new network will bring together multidisciplinary national and international expertise to explore how new ways of visualising and thinking can help address this pressing global issue.

The inaugural event is scheduled for September in RGU where the network group will enjoy traditional Scottish hospitality to enable their collective HAIVAIRN.  More information