From 2017, I have been part of a UK-wide cross-sector action research project on supporting grassroots participation in culture (arts, science, heritage, museums and research) with the Fun Palaces campaign. Funded by Wellcome Trust and Paul Hamilyn, this involves sharing learning, reflections and practice with other ambassadors from different sectors and regions. As part of this, I am undertaking a residency with Voluntary Arts Scotland as their “scientist-in-residence”.
So far, this has involved:
- Supporting diverse communities across Scotland to engage with science, health and wellbeing, including through community workshops and trialing support through microfunding.
- Exploring the shared challenges, research and learnings around cultural democracy and policy to science communication, education and public engagement.
- Building partnerships with other organisations and working as a critical friend to support participation rather than access, and embed structural changes.
- Trailing long-term projects such as Leith Labs (science residency in a shopping centre) and working with refugee and immigrant community (New Scots)
- Developing an evidence-base, case-studies and best practice and feed this into larger strategic work including with funders, and the Scottish STEM and cultural strategies.