Arts & Humanities Research Council

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Arts & Humanities Research Council's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Arts & Humanities Research Council is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Executive Chair
Creative industries,
Audience of the Future
The Arts and Humanities Research Council is part of UK
Research and Innovation, a body that works in partnership
with universities, research organisations, businesses,
charities and government to create the best possible environment
for research and innovation to flourish. According to Executive
Chair Andrew Thompson, the AHRC plays a vital role in further
developing the UK’s reputation as a creative powerhouse. The
UK’s cultural and heritage organisations, including galleries,
museums and conservation bodies, are a vital part of British
identity. Andrew tells
The Parliamentary Review
about the
AHRC’s relationship with the culture and heritage sectors.
The Arts and Humanities Research Council plays a vital role in the UK’s cultural and
heritage sectors. Cultural organisations and practitioners contribute £27 billion to the
UK economy per annum, and the cultural sector employs more than 620,000 people.
Ten years ago, the relationship between the cultural sector and arts and humanities
funding changed. A number of museums, libraries, galleries, archives and heritage
bodies were designated as independent research organisations. Since then, we
have established a reputation as the world’s leading funding agency, brokering
partnerships between the UK’s leading research-intensive universities and flagship
cultural institutions.
The UK’s leading IROs play a vital role in training the next generation of curators and
heritage professionals. Through our collaborative doctoral training scheme, the AHRC
is pioneering new forms of training that drive collaboration and innovation between
cultural institutions and researchers. Curators and heritage professionals are co-
supervised in a university and one of these cultural institutions. No other country in
»Executive Chair:
»Founded in 2006
»Located in London
»Services: Part of UK Research
and Innovation, a new body
that works in partnership
with universities, research
organisations, businesses,
charities and government
to create the best possible
environment for research and
innovation to flourish
»The AHRC invests about £98
million of public money in
world-class research
»No. of employees: 118
The Arts and Humanities
Research Council
Highlighting best practice
the world is currently training people in
this way.
Through supporting the activities
of IROs, AHRC-funded research has
enhanced the impact that UK culture
and heritage organisations have on the
UK – on our economy, on our quality
of life and on our influence overseas.
At least six of the major exhibitions
to have been staged by the British
Museum in the past decade were
created directly out of AHRC-funded
research. This includes the celebrated
“Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave”
exhibition, which took just under three
years to complete.
“Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam”
was something that the British Museum
hadn’t attempted before, and the
first major exhibition dedicated to the
pilgrimage to Mecca. AHRC-funded
research carried out by the University
of Leeds and the British Museum on
experiences of the Hajj fed directly into
the exhibition. Dozens of testimonies
gave Muslim visitors a new way to
exchange ideas about pilgrimage and
helped thousands of non-Muslim
visitors learn about the faith and history
of one of the UK’s major religious
communities. It attracted 140,000
visitors over 12 weeks in 2012 and
went on a successful tour to Paris,
Doha andLeiden.
Research and development
for the creative industries
The UK is home to the two
biggest research and development
programmes in the creative
industries: our Creative Clusters
programme and the Audience of the
The UK creative industries are now
worth over £100 billion per annum,
making them larger than the life
sciences, oil and gas, and aerospace
sectors combined. One of the key
drivers of this success is that creative
businesses thrive when they cluster
together. In the most successful of
these clusters, universities are a core
partner, supporting research insight,
as well as skilled graduates, innovation
and experimentation.
In nine areas of the country, the
Creative Clusters programme
addresses the distinctive needs of the
creative sector, which is the fastest-
growing sector in the UK economy.
This provides for a greater fusion of
artistic design, digital and computing
skills. They transform the extent and
quality of interactions between our
leading research-intensive universities
and creative businesses, spanning TV,
film, gaming, fashion, data informatics
and design.
Across the creative industries of
fashion, film and television, design,
computer games, music, and
performance as well as the emerging
creative technology sector, global
players and high-growth SMEs have
joined the partnerships to provide
industry leadership and set real-
world challenges. Universities have
worked closely together to harness
the multiple research disciplines that
drive innovation in the creative sector,
from informatics and AI to design,
from engineering to theatre studies,
and from perceptual psychology to
Slavery past and present
The fight to end modern slavery can
only be achieved when we better
understand its routes, its motivations,
its context, its deterrents and its
Leeds fashion cluster,
Creative Industries
Cluster Programme
We have
established a
reputation as
the world’s
leading funding
between the
UK’s leading
universities and
flagship cultural
prevention. The AHRC’s brochure,
Slavery past and present, articulates
the important contribution arts and
humanities research has in providing
the tools to address the problem of
slavery in the present and come to
terms with its legacy from the past.
In 2015 the AHRC-funded project
“The Structure and Significance of
British Caribbean Slave-Ownership
1763-1833” provided the basis for the
BAFTA-winning BBC TV series Britain’s
Forgotten Slave Owners, presented
by historian David Olusoga. Led by
Professor Catherine Hall of University
College London, the project also drew
on research funded by the Economic
and Social Research Council. It showed
how the profits from Caribbean slave
ownership were spread throughout
British society and the British economy
during this period.
As a result of these AHRC and ESRC
projects, the Centre for the Study of
the Legacies of British Slave-ownership
was established at UCL. It continues
to initiate and inform much wider
discussion of the true legacy of slave
ownership in shaping society today,
both regionally and nationally. Its
findings have underpinned the work
of several National Commissions in
the Caribbean and have been adopted
by the Caribbean Community to aid
government negotiations over Britain’s
colonial slave past.
The depth and diversity of our research
on Modern Slavery has enabled the
AHRC to develop a new Policy and
Evidence Centre for Modern Slavery
and Human Rights. The new research
centre was announced by the Prime
Minister on July 9, 2019. It will, for
the first time, bring together research
councils, academics, policymakers,
businesses, charities and victims to
drive forward new studies, share
knowledge and improve collaboration
both at home and overseas, to further
strengthen our response.
The multidisciplinary centre will
work in collaboration with the Home
Office and partners including the
Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law,
the Alan Turing Institute and the
Universities of Hull, Oxford, Liverpool
and Nottingham. This centre will
be a consortium of universities and
independent research organisations
with a track record in world-class work
on modern slavery. It will be a hub
where researchers of any discipline
can team with organisations intent on
ending modern slavery and develop
solutions of real, practical utility. The
opportunity to build on this research
and these collaborations has only come
about because of the range and quality
of arts and humanities research already
being undertaken.
In all the projects examined, we see
the past informing the future, and we
hope to continue to do so for as long
as possible.
supporting the
activities of
funded research
has enhanced
the impact that
UK culture and
have on the UK
– on our
economy, on
our quality of
life and on our
Policy and Evidence
Centre for Modern
Slavery and Human

This article was sponsored by Arts & Humanities Research Council. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development