Arts and Urban Change in East London by Alison Rooke and Imogen Slater

 BLOG POSTArts and Urban Change_HD_Edit

We are pleased to announce that CUCR are once again able to offer the Sociology department’s MA students the opportunity to get involved in some interesting research into participative and socially engaged art practice. Earlier this year CUCR were approached by Create London to conduct some research into their participative and socially engaged arts commissioning in the east London’s Growth Boroughs: Barking and Dagenham, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Greenwich, Newham and Waltham Forest. Create London and CUCR agreed that this would be the ideal opportunity to develop paid internship opportunities for some of our excellent MA students to put to work the research skills and critical thinking they have developed through MA study. This work is a continuation of CUCR’s critical evaluation and research in the field of socially engaged and participative arts, examining the dynamic, potentials and paradoxes of these processes in today’s urban cultural economy.

Despite having the highest concentration of artists and creative businesses in Europe, east London has remarkably low levels of formal arts and cultural engagement. It also continues to be one of the most deprived parts of the UK. CREATE London work to bridge the traditional divisions of class, culture, education, and social background between theeast London’s growing creative community and local people. All of Create’s commissions/projects are delivered in partnership with local artists/organisations; those that are based here or with artists who were born in the area and who also have national and international stature for their particular field or work. Their work takes place in left over places such as old shops, empty office buildings, under flyovers as well as more orthodox arts buildings.

After a two day training course carried out by Alison Rooke, Imogen Slater and David Kendall, ten researchers have been recruited to take part in paid internships over the summer. The researchers are working closely with CUCR and Create London’s staff to develop four research projects which will unfold over the summer. The research will be discussed at a public talk in the Autumn.

The CUCR researchers will be examining four case studies to demonstrate the ways in which arts and culture are put to work outside of ‘mainstream’ arts spaces in the context of post-Olympic east London, a growing creative economy and super-diverse local populations.


 The CUCR research team includes Ange Jones, Anthony Palmer, Johannes Rigal, Jack Goffe will be carrying out research with people attending the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park re-opening as part of Open East Festival examining local perceptions of the reopened park.

Claire Levy and Harriet Smith are working with Marcus Coates

Arooj Khan and Katherine Stansfeld are researching The Paper Architect

Madli Maruste and Kendall Beaudry are researching Hannah Perry’s Have a Nice Day

The research will be discussed at a public talk in the Autumn.

Imogen Slater is Research Manager at CUCR as well as a free-lance social policy consultant. She undertakes collaborative research and evaluation projects across a range of areas including arts & media, training & skills, youth & community, and related social policy/practice interventions. Imogen is motivated by making well researched connections between grass roots practice and policy/funding strategies, thereby enabling effective change. She works on projects at local, national and European levels with different types of agencies including local authorities, government departments, and both public and third sector organisations.

Dr. Alison Rooke is a lecturer in the Sociology department where she teaches research methods, urban and visual theory. She is also Co-Director of the Centre for Urban and Community Research, (CUCR), a well established interdisciplinary research centre within Goldsmiths’ Department of Sociology . CUCR has a distinguished history of collaboration with local communities, activists and cross- sectoral stakeholders. At CUCR Alison works in partnership with a range of arts organisations and cultural and educational institutions including South London Gallery, the Serpentine Gallery, London Bubble, Stream Arts in London and a range of partners at a European and International level. Her approach to evaluation is collaborative and critical, providing a space for reflection and dialogue for all involved.

Images by Claire Levy.

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