The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) programme is a government supported scheme managed by the Technology Strategy Board to place researchers and graduates associated with an academic Institute with a host company for an agreed period of between 10 weeks to 3 years. This partnership aims to aid organisational development through an enquiry-led research project. The company benefits from the embedded researcher's position and their connections with the Institute, while the Institute gains knowledge through the real world application of its academic research. The researcher manages the project and the partnership, putting in place research processes within a real working environment. KTPs in the arts sector are rare, more typically suited to engineering and technological industries; however partnerships with arts organisations are becoming more and more popular.

Our KTP was with Birkbeck College, University of London, and consisted of a cross-departmental partnership between lecturers in Arts Management and Organisational Psychology. The core partners included Dr Ben Cranfield, lecturer in Arts Policy and Management and Dr Kate MacKenzie Davey, lecturer in Organisational Psychology from Birkbeck, Natasha Silsby, Senior Programme Manager at A New Direction and KTP core researcher Sarah B Davies.

KTP Project

The aim of the KTP project was to uncover the working methods and creative processes across A New Direction's programmes which have developed during the organisation's delivery of the Creative Partnerships programme. This came at the point when Creative Partnerships was due to end (July 2011) and the organisation was undergoing a significant transformation as it established new programmes and working practices. During this era of flux the KTP offered the opportunity to conduct in-depth research into the wider influences of change across sectors and the ways in which organisational working processes can both weather and support change. Sarah conducted a live evaluation of the needs, priorities and requirements of the arts, education and youth sectors during a changing political landscape, providing A New Direction and Birkbeck with enhanced and new knowledge that would aid current working practice.

The KTP project was guided by a number of principle topics that were selected by A New Direction and were also relevant to the wider arts and education sectors:

  • Creativity: exploring the rhetoric behind creativity and understanding how creativity manifests in working processes and methods.
  • Partnership: exploring the value and challenges of partnership working, and the possibilities for partnerships in the engagement with change.
  • Change: understanding the different types and scales of change taking place that affect the arts and education sectors, and ways in which we can engage with the process of change.
  • Evaluation: considering collaborative evaluation methods that include participants and practitioners as equals in the critique of creative practice.
  • Language of Creative Practice: exploring key terms such as creativity, co-constructed learning, education, and facilitation.

KTP Outcomes

During the KTP partnership a range of internal and external research reports and papers were created. These documented many findings such as a set of partnership principles which emerged during observation into the organisation's partnership working methods, and a 7-stage creative change process unique to A New Direction, uncovered during participation in a working group's development of a new evaluation framework.

As we explored more creative methods of communicating our research the investigations became more artistic, befitting the practices of our sector. This allowed us to re-work the traditional model of KTP partnership and develop Sarah's research role into something more akin to an artist-residency, which culminated in a curious exhibition of the research in July 2011. This exhibition was entitled 'The Thinking Room' and comprised: a playful physical installation within A New Direction's offices that hosted a programme of talks and debates, fun events and unusual dinners; and an online space that hosted materials relating to the research topics including evaluation, creative change within schools and successful partnership principles.

Our partnership garnered interested from the national programme offices and Sarah and Ben were invited to present their research into artistic practice and change processes at a national KTP conference in May 2011.

Visit the KTP project website - The Thinking Room

The Thinking Room is a space to pause and reflect. It presents research and resources to support the working processes, methods and practices within the arts and education sectors. Make yourself at home.