NCACE South West Hub is live

National Centre for Academic and Cultural Exchange South West Hub is live

Thursday, 4 February, 2021

Bath Spa University has today (4 February) officially opened the South West Regional Hub of the National Centre for Academic and Cultural Exchange (NCACE), which will develop a raft of activities over a four-year period to facilitate and support capacity for knowledge exchange between higher education and the arts and cultural sector across the UK.

The Hub will connect cultural innovators, storytellers, and researchers looking to forge their next projects, build collaborative practice, and accelerate their careers. Those running businesses and enterprises will also be able to make use of the Hub by calling on external support to help solve challenges.

Housed in Bath Spa University’s Research Centre for Transcultural Creativity and Education (TRACE), the Hub will be led by the world’s first and only Professor of Story, Professor Bambo Soyinka, and will focus on storytelling as a mode of cultural exchange.

The Hub was formally launched with its opening event titled ‘Knowledge Conversations: The Power of Collaborative Action’. In her keynote address, Professor Soyinka explored some of the challenges and opportunities for cultural and academic exchange, focusing on research itself as a mode of exchange.

Bambo said: “What if we completely inverted the traditional model of research, and started with the premise that the greatest insights bubble up from the cultural sphere, rather than from the academic sphere? What if we took the view that citizens, rather than professors, were the true innovators of knowledge? Is it time to listen more closely to our cultural and industrial partners to get a better sense of what they need from us as researchers?”

Chaired by the Co-Directors of NCACE and The Culture Capital Exchange (TCCE), Suzie Leighton and Evelyn Wilson, the launch featured keynote addresses by David Sweeney (Executive Chair, Research England), Professor Bambo Soyinka, Professor Trevor McMillan (Vice Chancellor, Keele University and Research England Knowledge Exchange Champion), and Rosy Greenlees OBE (Executive Director, Crafts Council), followed by a panel discussion on knowledge exchange and flows between higher education and the arts and cultural sector.

Speaking of the launch of NCACE, David said: “I am excited to be investing in this new centre that hopes to bring a step change in the ability of universities to support knowledge exchange with the arts and cultural sector in this difficult time. This is an important opportunity to better understand, demonstrate and further support and nurture the exceptional collaborative work that is being done across the country, and for Research England and universities to support the wider resilience of the sector into the future.”

Following the launch and throughout 2021, TRACE will roll out a series of new initiatives that connect to the mission of TRACE and the South West Regional Hub. These will include a new suite of professional development, career, and talent accelerators with creative storytelling, cultural exchange, and technology at the heart. A core feature of the programme is an intensive low residency PhD, which will open to applicants in March for an October 2021 start. If you are interested in submitting a PhD proposal, accessing these courses, or collaborating as an industry partner, then please get in touch with Louise Chapman at

TRACE believes in the power of creativity across borders and in the capacity of everyday citizens to innovate and contribute to engaged and inclusive research that transforms cultures. As such, they facilitate creation, foster co-production, and create channels for celebrating innovation across local and transnational arenas. The centre’s activities build on research into writing communities, engagement, and cycles, helping to incubate, grow, and connect a community of support for researchers as writers and storytellers more widely.

NCACE’s work will particularly focus on evidencing and showcasing the social, cultural, environmental, and economic impacts of knowledge exchange between higher education and the arts and cultural sector across the UK. The initiative is led by The Cultural Capital Exchange (TCCE) in collaboration with its regional partners Bath Spa University, Birmingham City University, Manchester Metropolitan University, and Northumbria University, and is funded by Research England.

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