March

Behind The Studio

This week, I sat down with director of The Studio, Kate Pullinger, to give you a clear cut and fun discussion on what our work here really means and how Kate went from solo-writing novels to leading our team.

Kate’s involvement with Bath Spa University slowly crept up on her as she began to peep between her freelance fingers and teach Creative Writing at universities.

In 2002 she started a fellowship in Nottingham Trent University, exploring new forms of narrative online. This is where, you may remember from my last post, Kate devised a narrative app called Breathe, which was shortlisted for the New Media Prize in 2019 (you can download the app on your phone).

This all led to a five-year part-time position at Nottingham Trent, running an online Master's programme in Creative Writing and Digital Media, which she invented along with a colleague at the same university.

"…and then the opportunity came up to apply for a professorship at Bath Spa, so that’s what I did."

— Kate Pullinger

Kate was a professor of Creative Writing and Digital Media here at Bath Spa for five years until she was swept off her feet by the opportunity to apply for the Director’s position of the newly funded Centre of Cultural and Creative Industries (CCCI).

"…[the CCCI] was quite a big step sideways for me, because it’s much broader than Creative Writing and Creative Writing and Digital Media; it’s much more focused on the whole of the Creative Industries."

Finding a home for our creatives

Daunting though it may be, Kate began to initiate enormous funding bids with multiple partners, including the South West Creative Technology Network (SWCTN), and the Bristol + Bath Creative R+D partnership (B+BCR+D). Congrats, it’s a success!

The only problem then was that numerous people started to join the team to help build those projects further but there wasn’t a physical home for all these projects to grow and develop.

Move initiated, the CCCI was based at a communal co-working space called Spaces, not far from the Guildhall here in Bath. But as work began to shift at the University, and the art departments were moving into our new Locksbrooke Campus, Palace Yard Mews became available.

We don’t just have a room anymore; we have a whole building—an actual building! Yep, it’s official, the Creative Industries are slowly taking over the world!

"It was serendipity really. It was the right building, at the time and in the right place."

Are we a success?

Great, so we have a director, a team and we have a building; we have all of the ingredients, so how are we going to bake the cake?

Well, with creativity, it’s hard to gauge whether it’s a success, because different kinds of creativity have different definitions of success.

Take books, for example. Success might be getting a book deal or getting on a bestseller list. But for a hub of all trade, we can only measure our success through that of others, i.e. the residents that we have here.

I won’t lie, there's definite risk there, but if a student or graduate, or anyone really came to us as their first steps in their career, and then developed, we would count that as success. More funding applications is another way; if we're approved more funding, then we can continue our work, a success—which will only ensure even more success.

"And we’ll track people more formally than that. So, through—you know—everyone who has worked here will complete an annual survey so find out the impact of our work on those people."

What’s clear here is that while data and statistics are important, that's not what creativity is all about; that's not what we’re here to do. So, if in three years’ time the Studio is full of interesting people, working on interesting things, then, for us that’s all we can hope for.

Who are we for?

So we’ve got the ingredients, we’ve baked the cake, but who’s going to eat it? The short answer is: people working with creative uses of technology—due to our foundational projects (the SWCTN and the B&B Creative R&D).

Over the coming months, I'll be showing you who these people are and what they are working on in more detail, but in the meantime, I’ll say this: we are interested in people working with creative technology, in Bath specifically—for people in the area who want to start up freelance work using or involving creative technology, we want a space for you!

Until next time,

Gemma

Disclaimer: The Bath Spa blog is a platform for individual voices and views from the University's community. Any views or opinions represented in individual posts are personal, belonging solely to the author of that post, and do not represent the views of other Bath Spa staff, or Bath Spa University as an institution.

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