LJMU heads-up national university showcase shining spotlight on city’s arts, culture and the creative economy

Face Lab

The University’s ‘Face Lab’ has taken centre stage at a national event showcasing universities’ role in driving growth in the creative economy.

Face Lab was specially selected to appear at an interactive showcase: Making Places: Universities, the arts and creative industries, as a shining example of how universities are acting as custodians and champions of the arts.

Face Lab’s Professor Caroline Wilkinson and Mark Roughley demonstrated the range of capabilities of the innovative, cutting-edge facial depiction technology – which has applications ranging from forensic identification to archaeological reconstruction – at the prestigious event at London’s Southbank Centre. National leaders in the creative industries attending the event included Darren Henley, CEO of Arts Council England and LJMU Honorary Fellow.

The event also launched new national guidance to support arts and cultural organisations seeking to partner with universities including LJMU. The guide, published jointly by Arts Council England and University Alliance, uses LJMU’s partnership with the Tate Gallery an example of best practice, in university-arts collaboration.

LJMU Vice Chancellor, Professor Nigel Weatherill, said: “I am delighted that Face Lab and the University are being upheld as national examples of excellence in driving arts collaborations that deliver real impact for society. As a university based in a city that is globally renowned for its creativity, we recognise the importance of investing in the arts and cultural organisations on our doorstep, for the benefit of our students, staff and community.

“From giving our students unique access to world-class cultural experiences around them, to joint academic posts at Tate Liverpool and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) among others, our approach brings about innovative, industry-led teaching, research and scholarship that make Liverpool John Moores University a unique place to work and study, and helps drive our thriving UK creative economy.”

The showcase was hosted by University Alliance (UA) – the representative body of the 21 Higher Education Institutions with a shared mission to make a difference to the city and region in which they are based, of which LJMU is a member. The event coincided with the Alliance’s annual dinner for UA Vice Chancellors, attended by Professor Weatherill.

UA also announced it will undertake a major research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to map knowledge exchange partnerships in universities with the creative economy. The project will use existing data held by funding bodies, universities and other external organisations to develop a clearer picture of the activities that are less formalised such as consultancy, ad hoc advice or informal knowledge exchange activities which are often undertaken by arts and humanities academics. The pilot takes Alliance universities as a test case for developing new methodologies to tell the ‘hidden story’ of partnership activities, and for capturing and understanding their contribution. It will publish its findings in early 2017.

The project will establish new ways of evaluating understanding partnerships between universities and the creative economy, which employs 400,000 people and is worth £12bn.

University Alliance Chief Executive Maddalaine Ansell said: “As cultural leaders in their cities and regions universities catalyse creativity, promote access to great art and cultural activities and support growth and job creation in the creative economy.

“We are proud to be showcasing many fantastic examples of this activity from across Alliance institutions, and we hope the joint guidance we are publishing with Arts Council England will support the growth of partnerships between higher education and arts and cultural organisations of all sizes.

“We will also be developing new ways of measuring and mapping knowledge exchange in the creative industries, gaining a better understanding of the impact which can be made by these collaborations, and look forward to working with the AHRC in taking this forward.”


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