The Beyond Text strategic programme was developed in 2007 following a period of consultation with the arts and humanities research communities which identified visual communication, sensory perception, orality and material culture as key concerns for 21st century scholarship and the wider community.

It recognises that today's digital culture means that communication is more rapid and often more transitory than ever before; performances, sounds, images and objects circulate swiftly on a global scale only to be replaced by even newer versions. Who controls and manages this material and its dissemination is now a key political, economic and legal question. Yet these are not new problems but ones with long historical roots.

Beyond Text will create a collaborative, multi-disciplinary research community to work with those outside Higher Education on these issues. The programme will help inform and inflect public policy relating to our cultural and creative heritages and futures; it can also, for example, help inform educational practice at a time when traditional notions of literacy are being challenged by advances in communication technology. The programme will also foster public understanding of the many oral/aural, material and visual forms in which creativity has been generated and used.

Finally, in bringing together those who create works and those who preserve, display and study them, the programme will break down traditional boundaries between practice-led or practice-based research and other forms of investigation.

The £5.5 million programme will run for 5 years until May 2012. You can find the full programme specification here.

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.