CONCERTA - Social Impact Study

CONCERTA and the ACE Research Grants Programme

In 2016, Arts Council England (ACE) launched the second round of a programme call for proposals to provide opportunities for collaborative work to develop the evidence base around the impact of arts and culture. Specifically, the role of the Research Grants Programme is to generate evidence to:
■ better understand the impact of arts and culture;
■ make the best case for arts and culture in the context of reduced public spending; and
■ promote greater collaboration and co-operation between the arts and cultural sector and research partners

Devised by the National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF) (Lead Applicant), in collaboration with the Centre for Business in Society (CBiS) at Coventry University (Research Partner), the CONCERTA project has been provided with funding of circa £150,000 by ACE under the terms of the Research Grants Programme for the period from December 2016 until March 2019. The project is being co-delivered by NRTF and CBiS

A number of activities have taken place during the life of the project including a review of relevant academic and grey literature, an online questionnaire and activity data survey of Rural Touring Schemes, linked to a mapped assessment of their activities over the past five years, and a detailed analysis of touring arts activity and impact in eight rural communities

Phase 1 - The first is to review all the current and historical information available in this field. We've asked every rural touring scheme across the country to complete an online questionnaire detailing their activities and events. The schemes have kindly supplied this information and our researchers at Coventry University are analysing the data. They will then produce maps, showing the patterns and characteristics of rural touring in each area. From all of this we will produce an interim research report about the findings so far.

Phase 2 - A more in depth focus on four communities linked to two rural touring schemes. This will look at the impacts rural touring has in particular kinds of community.

Phase 3 -  Examine a further two communities and will examine the longer-term impacts of rural touring over a period of time. There will be a further interim research report after this stage, with a wider presentation of the findings.

Phase 4 - Finally, there will be another questionnaire for the rural touring schemes, picking up on many of the findings the research has thrown up. There will also be interviews with various individuals and groups working and volunteering in rural touring. We'll produce a final report which we hope will be useful for everyone involved - examples of best practice, evidence for funders and stakeholders, identifying gaps in provision and painting a clear picture of rural touring across the UK.

Our collaborative approach will take account of and understand the differing needs of different places, as well as contrast rural and urban communities. Most importantly, the project will investigate the extent to which the experience of art and culture can help create more vibrant and sustainable rural communities.
We look forward to sharing research findings and case studies here.


GIS Mapping Analysis: Interim Findings

The GIS mapping activity has generated a digital archive of some 700 maps which geo-reference the core activities of the Rural Touring Schemes over the past 5 years against a range of geographical and socio-economic criteria. In the concluding phase of the project this archive will be annotated and interpreted drawing on the input of each participating scheme. Each Scheme will be presented with its own portfolio of maps for future use and reference.
In what follows, a selection of maps is reproduced to illustrate some of the interim findings that have emerged from the GIS mapping activity.  The first set of maps presented depict the national picture of Touring Scheme activity. Following this, a selection of more detailed activity maps are presented for a sample of regional Touring Schemes.

Figure 5.1 depicts art form type and number of performances in 2016-17 against Rural Urban Classification 10.  Some schemes have returned no data breakdown for this particular variable.

Overall, Plays and Drama (blue) and Music (red) have emerged as the most common art forms performed by English Rural Touring Schemes. Reflecting the findings of the Online Questionnaire, music events are particularly well established in the portfolios of relatively ‘remote’ schemes – for example Carn to Cove (Cornwall) and Arts Alive (Shropshire).  Remote schemes also tend to display a more diverse portfolio of art form types (e.g. Highlights Rural Touring in the North East, Arts Alive and Carn to Cove) compared with their more accessible counterparts (typified by Warwickshire and Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Northamptonshire). One exception to this is Kent (Applause Rural Touring) which appears to programme a significant number of outdoor events.
Again reflecting the Online Questionnaire findings, some relatively remote schemes are more likely to programme film performances (e.g. Carn to Cove). Many art form types (such as workshops, training programmes and spoken word events) are programmed by only a small minority of schemes.

Figure 5.1 Art form type/number of performances against Rural Urban Classification 10 [NOTE THIS IS A DRAFT NOT FINAL YET]