Tweets, whistles and gold: an overview of the Cultural Research Conference 2010

The first Cultural Research & Intelligence Network (CRAIN) conference took place on 2nd June 2010 at Birmingham City University (School of Art) in central Birmingham.

The conference was well attended, attracting 41 delegates who between them represented 26 different organisations (including five local authorities and four local universities).

The conference, Chaired by Tim Challans (former coordinator for the West Midlands Culture & Sport Improvement Network), began with a presentation by Lauren Amery, the CRAIN coordinator and Cultural Research Analyst at the West Midlands Regional Observatory. You can listen to/view her presentation below:

Key points made during Lauren’s talk, included reference to the popularity of culture during the recession, and the “buzz” created in the region during the aftermath of the discovery of the Anglo-Saxon gold hoard in Staffordshire last year.

Dr Paul Long and Dave Harte of Birmingham City University followed up with a presentation about the digital participation agenda, referencing the drive for digital literacy and the newly emerging digital culture which is tending to revolve around social media. You can listen to/view Dave Harte’s presentation below:

There was a 15 minute speed-networking session after the presentations, where delegates introduced themselves and their organisations (interrupted from time to time by a shrill whistle noise prompting people to move one space along!).

After a short break, delegates were invited to decide the workshop topics to be discussed. A consensus was reached and the following topics were chosen:

  1. The measurement of the social and economic impact of culture and sharing and dissemination of research and data.
  2. Budget cuts, the development of policy frameworks and the West Midlands context.
  3. Culture, learning and skills, the profile of the cultural workforce and the role of regional universities.

You can read more about the key points discussed during the three workshops in our CRAIN conference  summary report (pdf, 134kb).

Finally, the plenary session asked delegates to provide ad hoc feedback on what they liked about the conference and what they felt could be improved. This included a suggestion that future events could revolve around key pieces of research (akin to a ‘bookclub’), where CRAIN members lead dicussions about the implications of new research.

An unexpected highlight of the conference was the comments generated on Twitter. The hashtag for the conference was #CRAIN and, at last count, there were over 80 tweets referencing the conference, which certainly hints at the valuable role Twitter could play for CRAIN and the Cultural Observatory in future.

Related links

Photo of Dave Harte (Birmingham City University) delivering his presentation:

Photo of Lauren Amery (Arts Council England / West Midlands Regional Observatory) delivering her presentation:

Photo of the speed-networking session:

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