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Innovation Studio announces first round of funding awardees

Since launching in March this year, Innovation Studio has sparked fascinating projects and ideas within the community at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

It has also highlighted the depth and breadth of work being done towards developing sustainable practices, building communities, and addressing existing challenges across the creative industries. The Studio is supported by the Scottish Funding Council, University Innovation Fund (UIF), and a private donor.

Innovation Studio is a two-year pilot programme to facilitate new opportunities for idea development and knowledge exchange at RCS.  It has a variety of opportunities for staff, students and graduates throughout the pilot.

Through a series of workshops, panels, online discussions, interdisciplinary collaborations, and seed funds, Innovation Studio can provide focused support and funding to unlock interdisciplinary approaches to local, sectoral, national, and global challenges.

It offers the artistic community at RCS additional tools and provocations as they seek to expand their sphere of influence and impact in a changing economy after Covid.

Three Innovation Challenges are at the heart of Innovation Studio and are thematically linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Our themes are: Green Recovery; Placemaking and Creative Health.

The Innovation Studio Green Recovery Challenge, which ended in June, generated wide-ranging discussion on the arts, the climate crisis and recovery from the pandemic, offering new insights into ways of working collaboratively and across disciplines. (see Innovation Studio Miro board for discussions to date).

Applications for three development funds and for projects linked to Green Recovery closed in May. The Innovation Studio team is now delighted to introduce the first round of commissions.

All awardees have been invited to join a developing Innovation Studio Community of Practice which will be facilitated by the Innovation Studio team in collaboration with Dr Michael Pierre Johnson, Innovation Leadership Fellow at the Innovation School at The Glasgow School of Art. Through the network, the aim is to develop visual mapping tools and techniques to support the RCS community to grow their projects, stakeholder networks and their innovation potential.

Innovation Studio has made the maximum number of awards in each category. The three categories are: Civic Fund, Research & Development Fund and Business Ideas Fund.

The Civic Fund invites artists to develop Knowledge Exchange practices with community organisations. This round of funding supports four exciting partnerships. 

Masters student Penny Chivas (MEd Learning & Teaching, 2022) will use the Civic Fund to work alongside the Woodlands Community in Glasgow over the next year. The Community is involved in several climate change events and Penny (right) will investigate how to extend and develop themes presented in these sessions into community movement workshops.

Penny aims for people to leave sessions to not only have danced/moved/experienced together but also with a feeling that a practical action that they can take will make a difference. Funding awarded: £4,000

Masters student Sagnick Mukherjee (MMus Perf (violin), 2022) has partnered with amateur music group St Vincent Baroque Players. Their collaboration will explore new ways of creating and sustaining mutually beneficial relationships between musicians in the community and RCS students using the medium of baroque chamber music. Funding awarded: £750

Graduates Yas Mawer (BA CPP, 2019, below left) and Holly Worton (BA CPP, 2021, below right) will be working with the Marine Conservation Society to create a site-specific live performance. This performance will focus on harmful activities which threaten coastal and marine environments, as well as solutions to restore, rewild and recover these habitats. As this charity specialises in environmental action and conservation, they will be able to contribute sustainable ideas and expertise. Funding awarded: £4,000

The fourth Civic partnership is between RCS staff members Dr Angela Jaap, Lio Moscardini, graduate Rachel Naylor (BMus Perf (French horn), 2021), and Deerpark Primary School. This partnership will explore new models for teaching music in specialist schools with a view towards developing a blueprint for musical education, in collaboration with parents and teachers. Funding awarded: £4,000

The Research & Development Fund supports very early-stage ideas for RCS staff members

PT Lecturer (Composition)/Senior Research Fellow Dr Stuart MacRae (left) will be working on a preliminary review of composer income and commission rates in the UK. This research aims to begin to heal the adversarial relationships that can result from the opacity of commissioning practice, allowing those whose main mission is to bring new music to the public to work together productively and harmoniously. Funding awarded: £1,500

Lecturer in Performance (Traditional Music) Marie Fielding (left) will be investigating and developing her Performance Preparation Journal to share with all students studying at RCS. This journal focuses on uniqueness, thinking skills, visualisation, preparation and much more. Funding awarded: £1,500

PT Lecturer (Junior Conservatoire and Lifelong Learning) Claire McCue (below right) will be working with an AR/VR consultant and Research Associate – the aim of this stage of the new project is to explore how, in terms of possibility and feasibility, AR/VR might be used within a musical composition, both live and online, as part of a new short opera in Gaelic, and how versions of this could increase public engagement. Funding awarded: £1,500.

Scenic Art Tutor (Central Production Unit) Megumi Hari will work with design students from the Production Arts and Design programme, taking part in a conceptional design project funded through the Innovation Studio Research award. Using practice as research methodology, they will create a living document of students’ findings on materials and resources that align with ecoscenography practices. Funding awarded: £1,500

Lecturer in Strings/Transitions Coach Alison Wells will develop a social enterprise bringing music services to care homes and other care settings, working with external partners to develop long-term approaches to sustain this kind of work and partnership. Funding awarded: £1,500

The Business Ideas Fund is run in partnership with Converge and is intended to support early-stage business development

RCS student Rebecca Frances Edwards (BMus Comp2, 2024) is developing Lost Fawn Ltd., a new events company which arranges and promotes collaborative experiences, making new music and creative art forms more accessible to a variety of audiences. They aim to provide emerging artists with the opportunity to showcase their work alongside established professionals across the UK. Funding awarded: £500

RCS student Dale Thrupp (BA CPP2, 2024) is part of the collective Good Apple. They will use the funding to update their website and to launch their new initiative, The Orchard Project. This project aims to collaborate with community groups and organisations to turn unused areas of Glasgow into green spaces and community gardens. Funding awarded: £500

RCS graduate Adam Butler (BA Acting, 2021) will use the support from the Innovation Studio’s Business Ideas Fund to explore and develop virtual reality performance and its relationship to the arts. As part of his initial discovery, Adam (below left) will be meeting with like-minded creatives and exploring 3D filmmaking, finishing the project by creating works that will be available to the public with the hope to create an open conversation around this new opportunity. Funding awarded: £250

RCS student Ellie Donald (BMus Perf4 (voice), 2022) will be developing SP(ACE) and will use the fund to develop skills as a coach with a view to supporting students (or graduates) to grow their confidence as performers. Funding awarded: £500

RCS Staff member Rhonda Barclay is developing Cue Props, a non-profit organisation dedicated to providing an environmentally responsible alternative to the dumping of props and scenic dressing items, which are often discarded by the Scottish entertainment industry. So many items are lost to landfill or left languishing in storage spaces that Cue Props felt that they could provide a better solution. Funding awarded: £500

RCS student Malin Lewis (BMus Trad (Piping) 4, 2022) will be developing The Pride Ceilidh Band, a Scottish ceilidh band for the LGBTQ+ community and beyond. As well as facilitating a safe space for people to dance together, one of the most unique and important aspects of the Pride Ceilidh Band will be gender-neutral calling. Funding awarded: £500

These projects are diverse in their approach towards Green Recovery. If you would like to keep updated on the project developments, keep an eye on the Innovation Studio Miro board, and sign up to the newsletter here.

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