Report on Allyson Keehan’s Research Placement Hospitalfield 2018

Working on the statistics from the residency programme, the Pamphlet Series, and facilitating resident and commissioned artists while they worked on their individual projects…

During the months of January to June 2018, I had a research placement as Programme Researcher in Hospitalfield. This was supported through the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities Doctoral Internship Programme. The aim of these placements is to connect the research skills developed by PhD’s with complimentary organisations in order to gain professional experience. The research I undertook while in Hospitalfield diversified daily. It included working on the statistics from the residency programme, continuing the production on the Pamphlet Series, and facilitating resident and commissioned artists while they worked on their individual projects. So much happened, in fact, I feel that I am still processing and reflecting. While doing the placement I was simultaneously continuing work on my own PhD research.

The immediate benefit was utilising my research skills outside of academia, which hopefully will broaden the possibilities for employment when I finish my PhD. It is an ongoing quest by each PhD student to amass ‘transferable skills’. This placement greatly contributed to my development as a researcher. Some key elements included:

* Collaborative working, networking and relationship building, event management, and public engagement.

* Developing my knowledge base through research methods and practical application: Working on this project gave me the opportunity to learn quantitive data methods. This included assessing the residency programme since 2016, using specialist programmes, collecting and visualising data, and finally, creating an output of the data collected.

* Focusing on information seeking; not only for acquiring data and setting up thorough referencing for my main project but this also extended to researching and sourcing information for the artists working there.

* Engagement, influence and impact: communication and dissemination were ongoing. I participated in the publicising of events and engaging with the public through multiple communication platforms – i.e. social media and email, all of which have become increasingly more vital to organisations.

The main project I worked on involved creating and reporting on data collected from the applications to summer and autumn residencies from 2016 – 2018. Analysing the data took some time as it generated further questions as it developed. These questions relate to use and purpose of the research. Furthermore, this was happening when new data protection laws were put in place. There were three key questions I investigated; how do applicants hear about the Open Call for residencies? Where are applicants based at the time of applying? And finally, what was the highest education reached by the applicant? These questions are incorporated into the application forms and were anonymous. The results are needed for both Hospitalfield and for the funding bodies, where patterns, reach, and diversity could be demonstrated.

The interesting statistics I found were ‘Where in the UK were applicants from?’

As expected, England had the highest percentage avg. of 58.31%, with a staggering avg. of 37% of applicants from or based in London. In second place, came Scotland where out of an avg. of 36%, 23.56% were from or based in Glasgow. Though these results may not be surprising, seeing as the largest numbers of artists living in the UK are based in London, what was surprising is that other cities throughout the UK were in such small numbers. The most unexpected of all is that not one application came from Wales in 2018.

These residencies are funded opportunities, the questions that arise from these statistics are; how are people hearing about the opportunities? (This I also researched and found definite online trends). And finally, more general questions; are there negative outcomes for their careers or finances? How do artists negotiate work and family commitments? Is the bursary more, less or equal to their monthly income? These are directed more to the overall welfare of artists and what they need to do to sustain an art career, and what holds people back from applying to funded opportunities. The research unearthed many questions that will hopefully contribute to understanding the social and economic importance of artist residencies.

On a personal level, my reasons for doing a research placement, especially at Hospitalfield, was to get an opportunity that not only developed my research skills but also extended my professional network outside of my institution. Not being from Scotland, it is opportunities like these that give longevity to our research and create possibilities to have careers in Scotland afterwards. The generosity of everyone at Hospitalfield made the internship a really enjoyable and worthwhile experience. I hope the value and impact I gained has also been beneficial to them.

See Allyson Keehan’s photo diary here…