Got a burning question? Let AP find the expert with the answers.
Q My organisation is soon going to be working as one of the partners in a university-led research project. We haven’t worked with the higher education sector before. Do you have any tips for sustaining an effective partnership?
A Firstly, think about timescales. You have no control over timescales which are geared to the university academic year. Add in other requirements, e.g. ethics committee approval, before you can start planning your input, and you may well find that your financial and work forecasts are way out. Don’t make assumptions. You may both talk about consent, but don’t assume it means the same thing. As a participatory arts organisation we at Eventus are proud of the respect we show to participants, the care we take to gain informed consent and copyright clearance, and participants’ knowledge of how the material is to be used. However, research ethics committee approval is far more detailed and proscriptive. We build up a relationship of trust in ourselves, artists and the work before going into detailed consent. Ethics approval requires that you get people’s consent before they have a clue about who’ll they be working with, on what and why. As our research is as much about interdisciplinary working as representations of ageing, we were able to agree a compromise, but the very people we wanted to involve could have been frightened off at the start.
Make sure you get paid. You may have slaved over the research application, attended all the meetings, been an integral part of the bid and fully respected by the academics, but then the finance department may argue that non academics are merely contractors and your part of the project now has to go out to tender. You may also need to argue that artists get paid a proportion in advance and that delaying all payment until all work is completed is completely unfeasible for an arts organisation.
You’re not going anywhere (exciting). Research councils only pay for academics to attend international conferences. Sydney, Toronto and Gothenburg are on the menu for them: I get to present in Sheffield. Finally, enjoy the experience.