The full creative landscape

10 July 2008

by Zoë Corbyn

The AHRC wants to know which cultural elements, past and present, should inform policy-making. Zoe Corbyn reports

"There are serious political questions around who decides what our national heritage is," says Evelyn Welch, professor of Renaissance studies and academic dean for arts at Queen Mary, University of London.

"Who decides what gets preserved? How do we read the past when there is no written text? And what happens in today's digital culture when performances, sounds, images and objects circulate so swiftly around the globe? Does the British Library preserve every blog? These are absolutely key questions."

And these are the questions that Professor Welch is seeking to help answer as the director of the Arts and Humanities Research Council's £5.5 million strategic research programme Beyond Text: Performances, Sounds, Images, Objects.

The programme is intended to help inform policy related to our cultural and creative past and future - and to foster public understanding of the many forms of creativity beyond simply words on a page.

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Arts & Humanities Research Council: Each year the AHRC provides approximately £100 million from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from archaeology and English literature to design and dance. In any one year, the AHRC makes approximately 700 research awards and around 1,000 postgraduate awards. Awards are made after a rigorous peer review process, to ensure that only applications of the highest quality are funded. Arts and humanities researchers constitute nearly a quarter of all research-active staff in the higher education sector. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. See Arts & Humanities Research Council website.