Culture, Collaboration and Knowledge Exchange: Technology for Social Good

Culture, Collaboration and Knowledge Exchange: Technology for Social Good

This policy event took place on Thursday, June 20th, 2024.

Technology for Social Good is an increasingly important theme within the NCACE framework. This event, introduced by Evelyn Wilson (Co-Director, NCACE), created a platform for crucial conversations and information sharing on social innovations, fostering dialogue about supporting people, place, and the planet.

The showcased projects below demonstrated the diversity of creative technology partnerships between higher education, the arts and culture sector, technology organisations, local authorities, and the broader community. Contributors shared their concerns and hopes for the future.

In this article, we share our highlights from the event, along with the slides shared by our presenters.

Listen to the full audio event in Soundcloud here.

All slides and presentations can be accessed via our event Padlet here

Opening Reflection

Opening Reflection 

With Professor Helen Manchester (Co-I, Centre for Socio-digital Futures, University of Bristol) 

Who creates the imaginaries? 

How are futures claimed and acted upon?

These are two of the many provocative questions that set the tone for the morning, highlighting the work with technologies that promote care and justice, and transformative technology. Helen invites us to rethink the barriers that limit potential, how we create points of connection, and how we view the future as a construction site in the making, questioning who gets to shape it and the role of culture in this process. 

A group of people sitting together

Session 1: Creativity, Community and Ethics 

Chaired by Dr Laura Kemp (Senior Manager, NCACE) with presentations;

  • Granny Jackson’s Dead
    This creative Q&A dialogue between Dr Josh Edelman (Head of Manchester School of Theatre, Manchester Metropolitan University) and Zoe Seaton (Artistic Director, Big Telly) explores immersive technology ‘Grief Tech’ by inviting us to the Jackson family’s Irish wake
  • How things get made is as important as what gets made
    As the UK’s first media center with a long track record of innovation, risk-taking, and impact, Clare Reddington (CEO, Watershed) talks about a space for creative R&D, supporting over 200 practitioners. Clare emphasises that “to make a change in fast-moving times you need to make it with people who are not like you...If it doesn't feel hard then you are probably extracting more than you are giving!
  • From Analog to Digital for Social Good
    Lara Ratnaraja, an independent cultural consultant, reflects on the evolution of analog for social good into tech for good today. She explores the disappearance and devolution of local libraries, lack of access to digital media and smartphones, and equitable access.
  • Establishing the Centre for Performance, Technology and Equity
    Professor Bryce Lease (Co-Director, Centre for Performance, Technology and Equity, and Head of Knowledge Exchange at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama ) Discusses their £156m Research England-funded investment supporting universities to expand their small but outstanding research units. His presentation focused on technological innovation as a critical friend, upcoming opportunities, and initiatives involving micro tools for regional Boot Camps.
From the healthcare professional

Session 2: Collaboration, Digital Inclusion and Creative Empowerment

Chaired by: Rupert Lorraine (Director, The Arts Institute, University of Plymouth) with presentations;

  • The Experience of Founding a STEAM FabLab for Community Engagement
    Sinead Ouillon (Director of Research Development & Innovation, Coventry University) shares their Civic/Community Engagement & Widening Participation agenda, using Living Lab approaches to train over 120 citizen social scientists. Sinead specialises in designing and evaluating urban living labs for social, economic, and environmental challenges, growing from a £40,000 university investment to attracting £5m in external funding, and supporting 14,000 local people to date.
  • Artificial Intelligence in the Creative Industries
    Linden Walcott-Burton (Cultural Policy Officer, Greater London Authority) provides an in-depth snapshot of AI, covering machine learning, chatbots, and ChatGPT, and discussing its impact on the creative and cultural sectors. He emphasises that AI depends on its use and deployment.
  • Platforming stories of underrepresented voices and the narratives that are often invisible
    After her father lost his speech as part of a terminal illness Hannah Conway (Co-Founder, SoundVoice) worked with hundreds of people internationally on what it means to have a voice, creating an installation as Virtual Theatre. 
The Hopes and Fears Lab

Session 3: Technology for Social Good: Where we are and where we need to be

Chaired by: Evelyn Wilson with presentations;

  • Post-Digital Context of Working-Class Culture as Part of Intersectional Inquiry
    Dr. Marc Garrett (Co-Founder, Furtherfield) delves into a recent essay for NCACE, revisiting Furtherfield's work with researchers and universities, initiating experiments, and co-creation across digital and physical worlds over the past 30 years.
  • Encouraging Cross-Sector Post-Digital Dialogue as Citizen Researchers
    Professor Sarah Hayes (Professor of Education and Research Lead, Bath Spa University) explores questions about who gets to participate in the digital conversation and who is excluded—people without smartphones, those who don't use QR codes, and those confused by the evolving digital society.
  • The Social Purpose of Art Schools and Eco-Social Change
    Dr Idrees Rasouli (Deputy Head, Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University) discusses the social purpose of art schools, the thinking city model, the future of universities, shifting to eco-social change, and creating new technologies. This video represents The Hopes And Fears Lab for AI 
Roger Robinson

Final Reflection:

  • The Enduring Power of Social Media in Facilitating Collective Remembrance
    Roger Robinson (Poet, Writer, and Performer) explored diasporic communities use of social media for collective ‘digital grief’, focusing on the black British community's response to the death of artist MC Ty and the tributes on Instagram Live, Facebook, and Twitter that highlight the broader impact of COVID-19 on a community, and the enduring power of social media in facilitating collective remembrance.