Would you like a cup of tea? Who is paying?
Glenda Cooper’s article for Arts Professional suggests that the harmonious relationship between academia and artists all boils down to who’s paying for the tea and biscuits.
Universities are a public resource with funding, space and expertise. Collaborative relationships with the creative community can add enormous value from the expertise of artists. Artists and creatives may not have the time nor the money to pursue research activities which is where these partnerships can marry fruitfully.
Collaborative projects involving members from the Creative community and Higher Education Institutions bring exciting prospects to the table. However, if rules of engagement are not agreed in advance, relationships can sour very quickly.
Set clear principles in advance
- Set clear objectives on what the purpose of the collaboration is and what you hope to achieve, key milestones, evaluation and impact, role assignment and responsibilities, monitoring and review
- Set the parameters of engagement in advance. This helps to manage expectations and reduce confusion.
- Be transparent about how you work and who you are willing to work with and not.
Understanding each other’s worlds
It is important that partners understand the working environment of the artist and vice versa. it may be helpful to inhabit each other’s space in advance to understand their world and terms of reference.
Shared ownership and avoidance of hierarchies
Due credit should be given to other people’s ideas. This cuts both ways. When creative works are being produced, it is important to think about acknowledgment of their ideas. Recognition of an academic’s contribution should also be made clear when they share knowledge and approach.
Panel discussions should be approached cautiously to ensure that one party is not dominating the conversation. If a panel is appropriate, both artist and academic should prepare well together in advance.
Strong relationships bolster grant applications
Finally, don’t make assumptions. Universities think industry has lots of cash; artists think universities are awash with funding. Neither is true.
Even if you don’t get grant funding first time, the relationship can survive and strengthen. And a strong relationship makes the grant application more authentic. These difficulties may be hard to iron out but, by being prepared, the benefits can be huge.