Universities in Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter will explore new collaborative ways of working with cultural organisations.

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'The Rooms’, a festival celebrating the work produced by REACT

Max McClure

Researchers from four universities are embarking on a new collaborative project to strengthen the creative and cultural economy in South West England and South East Wales.

The GW4 Alliance, which comprises the universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter, has received funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to carry out ‘Bridging the Gap’, a project that will encourage collaboration between universities, cultural organisations and local authorities.

The project aims “to boost our regional economy and make a more sustainable future for the arts, heritage and cultural sectors,” Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bath and Chair of the GW4 Council, explained.

It builds on the success of REACT, a programme led by UWE Bristol and Watershed with the other three universities, which encouraged creative collaborations.

Focusing on the creative economy, heritage, modern languages and environmental humanities, the researchers will evaluate existing organisations and partnerships, and develop new models to broker relationships and improve connectivity in response to the needs of each area.

Academic lead Professor Tim Cole, of University of Bristol, said: “Many academics work closely with partners outside the university but rarely get the chance to stop and reflect on what they’ve all learnt in the process. This project provides an opportunity to do just that, as well as a chance to push things a little further by experimenting together with new mechanisms of working across the arts and humanities, heritage and the creative economy sectors which are so important to our regional economy and identity.”

A report will be published in 2017 making recommendations for future research and commercial partnerships to strengthen the regional creative and cultural economy

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