9 February 2015 10:49

A cultural partnership between Lancaster University and The Dukes, resulting in innovative, collaborative outreach arts projects, will lead to the further development of the University’s research and teaching activities through the use of the arts.

It could also see the integration of the creative arts within the student learning experience, bringing subject areas that wouldn’t traditionally use this more active approach to life.

“This would offer something quite distinctive, which could be used as an example of innovative teaching and high quality experience at the University, to bring an added dimension to the curriculum for staff and students,” explains the University’s Chief Administrative Officer Nicola Owen, who has overseen the partnership from the University’s perspective.

The partnership, which was developed to help raise the profile of both organisations and to embed the University as part of the fabric of Lancashire life, has seen an array of exciting and imaginative community-involvement arts projects during its first 12 months.

These have included:

  • A programme targeted at communities who are under-represented in the arts and higher education which included 121 creative workshops
  • Funding for two, three-month, paid internships for Lancaster students at The Dukes
  • Student placement opportunities
  • Collaboration on fundraising and research activities – the first year of this focused on the development of a major programme of work for people living with dementia which aims to raise £200k over three years
  • A film-making workshop at the University’s 50th anniversary Community Activities Day
  • A contemporary theatre event, a dark comedy entitled ‘Your Country Called…And It Wants You Back’ aimed at international students which will be presented at The Dukes in the spring
  • An exclusive opportunity for University staff members to join both The Dukes Friends’ Scheme and Live at LICA’s supporters’ scheme for the price of one
  • The piloting, with the help of the Students’ Union, of a cultural passport for students resulting in a ‘Coffee Card’ that encourages students to attend events and diversify their creative interests and ‘Cultural Champions’ which allows students to build up experience in managing and supporting creative activities which can be used for future career or personal development
  • An initiative to stage foreign language films
  • Significant, regular, high profile regional and local media coverage

“This is part of the University’s commitment to the arts in Lancaster and the wider region and complements the arts provision here on campus, including that of our own Live at LICA,” added Ms Owen.

“This genuine partnership covers a whole range of University activities from widening participation and outreach through to research. We are working with The Dukes across so many different areas. It has been an exceptional first year which has produced some memorable events and substantive projects. We couldn’t be more pleased with the two-way impact and tangible results so far.”

 “We look forward to building on the foundations of success we achieved in 2014 with The Dukes team and to exploring even more exciting initiatives.”

Artistic Director of The Dukes Joe Sumsion commented: “Partnership working with Lancaster University makes perfect sense for The Dukes and is already having a big impact on how we work.  New communities are being drawn into the arts, young people are developing their skills and crucially, new ideas and ambitions are being encouraged.  Together we are asking the question: how best can the arts and higher education organisations innovate and collaborate?  And already we are excited by the answers which are emerging.”