Expert Opinion

Drawing the Arts and Sport Together

In this blog post, Professor Jonathan Long talks about a series of seminars that form part of a national research network which is exploring the potential benefits of bringing together sport and the arts more effectively.
Every now and again there are policy initiatives to draw the arts and sport together, for example in promoting social inclusion.  However, despite being in the same government department (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), the arts and sport are more commonly separated academically and in professional practice.

Last week we held the first in a series of seminars as <a href="">part of a research network</a> funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.  Meeting at the National Football Museum (NFM) in Manchester we were considering the benefits and challenges for participation and audiences of bringing the arts and sport together.

Dr Beatriz Garcia (University of Liverpool) spoke initially on the Olympics changing participation practices and profiles and Dr Kevin Moore (Director of the NFM) discussed the role of the NFM and its public in terms of history and culture.  In between, Prof Lynn Froggett (University of Central Lancashire) considered additive, interactive and transformative experiences in art-sport.  Her hope was that more projects would occupy the last of those categories, creating a new space that was neither distinctively art nor sport that people from different backgrounds could enter on equal terms.  In our discussions there was also talk of a ‘third space’ that would involve co-production and commissioning.

We began to address the nature of the research that might be needed to inform this debate.  While some felt the need for qualitative research to inform a better understanding of people’s experiences, others insisted on the value of quantitative data, especially in winning political arguments for resources.  Kevin Moore observed that in a recent audit of museums they had scored the highest rating of 94.74.  However, while happy to use this to their advantage, they were not too sure what it meant.

Those who attended had the chance to see a film by Stephen Shone about Bradford City’s Asian Fans (a link will be posted on the web site).

The intention of the network is to draw together policy makers, professionals practitioners and academics from different disciplines working in the fields of sport and the arts to get dialogue going and begin to address a gap in existing research, and to examine critically the potential economic, social and cultural benefits from bringing together sport and the arts.  We aim to do this by examining the propositions that:

a) links between the arts and sport can enhance strategies to increase participation in each and promote cultural citizenship.

b) collaborations between sport and the arts can stimulate cultural experimentation, and be aesthetically innovative

c) arts-sports projects offer opportunities to overcome the duality of mind and body, and can produce benefits for physical and mental health

Apart from disseminating different forms of reporting our goal is to produce a declaration that might even become a manifesto on the relationship between sport and the arts.

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