One of the purposes of the Arts Council grants is to explore what happens when arts organisations work together with researchers in higher education. In the case of TALE, we have all worked together before, but in different ways and on separate projects. We hadn’t anticipated any particular problems, but we have found a couple of interesting issues already. We think it is worth noting these as we go along.
The first issue was related to what would happen if any of us wanted to apply for further funding for this research, or for a follow up. Because all three partners regularly apply to a small number of funders, we had to work out a process that would ensure we negotiated with each other about to avoid any one partner cutting across another organisational plan. There is now wording in our contract which says that we must all consent to any further funding application related to the project.
The second issue is related to calls on teacher time. One of our organisations offers an intense period of training to schools at the beginning of the school year which requires teachers out of class for a few days. The research team wanted to offer a combined day to schools where we reported on the first year of research results. Because we rely on summer to complete our data analysis we wanted to do this at the same time. This potentially created an additional request for time out for teachers. Our current compromise is that we researchers will add reporting interim results to the organisation’s existing CPD days and we will run a separate small event for the other organisation. We all agree that one big event is a good idea, but have yet to find the most appropriate time and place to do it.
Neither of these issues is big or insurmountable, but did require us to think about each of the organisation’s needs and processes and how the project proceeds without getting in the way of any of them. Interestingly, we discussed questions of confidentiality and anonymity at our last project governance meeting and we were all in agreement – so it’s the organisational questions that have proved to be our first points of careful thinking through.