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Cultural Participation and Wellbeing

We innovate cutting edge research into cultural participation, community-engaged practice and health/wellbeing, and their relationship with theatre and performance cultures. Multiple collaborative grant projects have resulted in a series of research publications, policy-facing reports and interactive events. These draw attention to and frame contemporary debates around the value of everyday cultural participation and produce a better understanding of activities people do in their everyday lives that have cultural value.

We consider notions of ‘community’, where, despite some of the risks of such a capacious term, ‘community theatre’ potentially offers a broad recognition of the heterogeneity, and potential intersectionality of excluded constituencies and promotes an alternative recognition of cultural difference and pluralism. This contrasts with a concern to ameliorate cultural disadvantage via a deficit model of ‘participation’.

Recent and ongoing projects include Understanding Everyday Participation; Amateur Dramatics: Crafting Communities in Time and Space; The Cultural Value of Amateur and Voluntary Arts; Enacting Community; and Revitalising Community Dialogues on Community Theatre. Partners include MED Theatre, Dartmoor; acta Theatre, Bristol; Appalshop, US, Dramabox, Singapore; Sojourn Theatre, US; Big hART, Australia.

Our transdisciplinary research on wellbeing, which includes healing experiences, contributes to medical practice and policy. Goldingay’s work explores how context enables our capacity to self-heal - an effect which is well-documented in medicine, but poorly understood. This research challenges the biomedical paradigm of health versus illness to empower people to consider the control they have over their own health and healing. Partners include The Universoty of Exeter’s College of Medicine and Health; the Institute for Intergrative Health, Baltimore; Healing Matters Network; University of British Columbia.


Understanding Everyday Participation Kerrie Schaefer, Jane Milling
Amateur Dramatics:Crafting Communities in Time and Space Jane Milling
Healing Matters Network Sarah Goldingay
UBC/Exeter symposium 'Culture, Creativity & Wellbeing' (University of Exeter, 2018). (Konstantinos Thomaidis) The project developed into the Cluster of Research Excellence in Culture, Creativity, Health and Well-being (2019-2021), funded by a UBC Eminence Grant and the Wellcome Centre. Konstantinos Thomaidis

participation, community, wellbeing, healing, medical humanities, health, craft, amateur, local government, voluntary arts, charities