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How to see, measure and capture the arts experience

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Many researchers face a problem of how to see, measure and capture the experience of others. This talk will reflect on the challenge of engaging with ethnographic and arts-based methods in order to foreground the embodied experience and participants perspective of an arts programme. This research sought to explore ‘dis-engaged’ young people’s educational experiences of the Arts Award. Now in its twelfth year, the Arts Award is a national qualification growing in popularity with the youth and community sector, which supports young people to “grow as artists and arts leaders, connecting them with the wider arts world” (2016 Annual Guide).

This talk will explore the particular research processes that were designed so that young people’s first-hand experience could be privileged. These included making work and experiencing the arts together, film making as interactional analysis and ‘event ethnography’. In order to conduct research into this arts education programme, creative and visual outputs from its participants, such as lyrics, films and performance, were considered as data. These creations were both representative of the young peoples arts experiences, but also acknowledge a different way of knowing that the arts encompasses. These artistic forms assist in representing the young person’s experience and also contribute to the experience of the thesis as a work of art in itself.

Frances Howard is a Lecturer in Youth Studies at Nottingham Trent University. She has previously worked in local authorities, arts education and youth work. Her creative practice includes filmmaking and she is currently researching young people’s music-making in relation to wellbeing. This research was funded by the University of Nottingham.

This talk is part of the Arts and Creativities Research Group series.

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