The In Harmony Liverpool Research Network brings together an international community of researchers to consider the cultural value of the orchestra as a community intervention, with a particular focus on the In Harmony Liverpool programme. Led by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (RLPO) and inspired by the Venezuelan El Sistema initiative, In Harmony Liverpool uses the symphony orchestra as a means of engaging young children (aged 4 years upwards) in music education and performance, adopting the Sistema philosophy of working with children from the most deprived parts of the country.
The commissioned evaluation of In Harmony Liverpool (2009-2012) consistently infers positive impacts upon participating school children, families and the community as a whole, including indicators such as educational attainment, community wellbeing, social capital and civic engagement. The network will explore these findings in greater depth, considering the causal relationships between early years musical interventions and their realistic social and economic legacies. The holistic cultural value of such interventions will be discussed, including its measurement and comparison to other community interventions and capital investment initiatives.
Who is the network for?
The network brings together multi-disciplinary researchers and scholars from the national and international In Harmony and El Sistema communities, including music educationalists; social scientists, anthropologists, psychologists and researchers of cultural policy; public health researchers, economists and political scientists. The network also includes members of professional practice, policy and governance communities, such as cultural organisations, schools and educational bodies, health agencies and social service providers, local and national government representatives.
What will the network do?
Planned activities include three full-day research workshops and online debates. The following three research themes will provide the structure for discussion:
1 Music education and impact
: the pedagogical characteristics of the In Harmony Liverpool programme, including partnership delivery and ‘orchestra as community’ model of learning are considered to be instrumental to its effectiveness and worthy of further scholarly investigation.
2 Cultural capital in the community:
the programme to date is seemingly having wider social impacts upon the participating school and community in relation to cultural awareness, aspiration raising, lifestyle choices, individual and collective efficacy and wellbeing. In this context, research questions are created on the sense of equity and equality between participants, the relationship between community members as musicians and audiences, and shared ‘quality of life’ experiences.
3 Pride, place and the connected self:
Evaluation data implies that In Harmony Liverpool is encouraging a greater sense of cultural change within the community with regards to attitudes towards one another; parental responsibility; family relationships; and multi-agency co-operation. This raises crucial longitudinal research questions as to the relationship between these factors and sustainable community resilience.
These three themes will be brought together under the
meta-theme of cultural value during a network conference in 2013, where implications such as the potential for a reduction in demand for public services and savings in public spending, and the role of arts and culture in public policy agendas including localism, public health and the Big Society will be debated.
How are network activities co-ordinated?
The network is led by Kerry Wilson, Head of Research at the Institute of Cultural Capital (ICC) and Jude Robinson, Reader in the Anthropology of Health and Illness at the University of Liverpool. The ICC is working in close collaboration with RLPO and the project Steering Group, which includes members from the Royal Northern College of Music and Liverpool Hope University.
Who is supporting the network?
The network is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the cross-council Connected Communities programme. Each year the AHRC provides funding from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities. Only applications of the highest quality are funded and the range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. For further information on the AHRC, please visit: www.ahrc.ac.uk
How can you find more information?
Please contact Kerry Wilson (Principal Investigator):
0151 231 3807