According to the Taking Part survey Gateshead is in the bottom 20% nationally for its levels of cultural participation. Our research aims to get ‘behind’ this data by seeking to understand the variety of ‘everyday’ participation taking place in Gateshead. In undertaking this research our aim is to challenge the ‘deficit model’ which privileges particular cultural and leisure forms as constituting participation. Instead by focusing on ‘everyday participation’ we hope to understand the ways in which the huge variety of different forms of everyday cultural participation have consequences- good and bad- for social engagement and networks.
The research approach in Gateshead started from the ‘ground up’ working first and foremost with individuals and groups (rather than cultural organisations). We focused intensively on an area that incorporated Bensham, Saltwell, Low Fell and Chowdene. Here, commencing March 2014, we undertook quantitative data mining and mapping, community and cultural asset mapping (formal and informal), community participant meetings and focus groups, face to face interviews (2 waves of 60 people in total), an ethnography with young people in care/ leaving care, and a social network analysis.
Early in the research we held an initial stakeholder meeting with a range of key stakeholders in Gateshead for this meeting we produced an Interim Report of the work that had taken place by July 2014. In October/ November 2015 we will be holding a final stakeholder meeting and producing an associated report which will report on all the work that has taken place in Gateshead and especially the findings from the household interviews and the mapping work that has taken place.
Another aspect of the work in Gateshead was the auto-ethnography of young women in care. As part of their participation in the project the young women produced their own film of their everyday participation and their ‘facilitated participation’. This film was presented at the Gateshead Young People in Care Achievement Awards in October 2014.
In addition, as part of the work on everyday participation and facilitated participation project Research associate, Dr Delyth Edwards, was successful in applying for funding to hold an event as part of the AHRC Connected Communities Festival 2015 . The workshop on Care Experienced Young People and Participation to be held on the 19th June 2015 will both present the work undertaken with care experienced young women in Gateshead as well as providing an active forum for the further consideration of the ways in which care experienced young people experience the participation that is facilitated on their behalf in relation to their own everyday participation. A brief report on this work which will be interesting to those professionals and academics working in social care and cultural policy and practice will be available here by the end of June.
The work in Gateshead is led by Dr Lisanne Gibson, School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester.