Research institute launches major project on regenerating towns

Bournemouth seafront
Bournemouth seafront

The Southampton Institute for Arts and Humanities Institute (SIAH) has announce a major new AHRC-funded collaboration with the University of London, the Centre for Towns, Historic England, and the NESTA-led Policy and Evidence Centre for the Creative Industries.

‘Towns and the Cultural Economies of Recovery’, led by Professor Nicky Marsh, Associate Dean for Research and Enterprise for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, will help us better understand the role that the creative, cultural, and heritage industries can play in developing the economies of UK towns.

The project brings together researchers from humanities and social scientists to explore how new data about places, people, and their currencies can remap our approach to regeneration. Focusing on Bournemouth, Darlington, Hereford and Southend as case study towns, the project will produce a scoping report based on online workshops, interviews, and literature reviews. The report will be used to inform UKRI’s future research priorities.

Professor Nicky Marsh said: “The need for civic and cultural regeneration has been transformed by the ongoing crisis of Covid-19, and this project will give Southampton’s new research institute a chance to help set the civic regeneration agenda.”

The project further benefits from the expertise of Chief Investigators Dr Will May, Associate Professor in English, who will lead the research work on people and skills, and Professor Catherine Clarke, Director of the Centre for the History of People, Place and Community at the Institute for Historical Research (IHR), University of London, who will lead the work on places.

Professor Catherine Clarke said: “The varied towns we have chosen allow us to explore a range of challenges and opportunities for change, from market towns to seaside resorts. The IHR’s ongoing project, the Victoria County History of England, offers unique insights into these towns through its 17 active County Trusts. These will provide us with further professional research expertise, local knowledge, and community networks.”

Dr Will May said: “The project marks a unique series of partnerships, drawing together diverse organisations across the heritage, creative and cultural sectors. It’s only by this collaborative work we can develop the cross-disciplinary research agenda which best supports economic, cultural, and environmental regeneration.”

The Southampton Institute for Arts and Humanities is based at the University of Southampton’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

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