2018: Doing research on community art

A new year bring new tricks. Vallan kahva was performed in November and right now Able Art Group II is taking it easy: We are convening again in February to start revising and refining the production for a final(?) go in April. One of the performers will have a baby within a few months. Another will finish her studies in Joensuu and leave Finland to pursue new adventures somewhere else. Minni has fresh plans for the next phase of Able Art Group. More about these later though.

In terms of research, 2018 will be an important year. I received a 6-month research grant from the Kone Foundation in December (#rohkeatekija, yes indeed!) and I therefore have the valuable opportunity this spring to focus on transcribing and analysing the audio-visual recordings from last year’s rehearsals and start working on the results. I’m finalizing my interviews with the participants as well. I’ll be attending the Sociolinguistics Symposium 22 in Auckland to present the TuMaTa-project and my work on playfulness and creative language use in AAGII to the international sociolinguistics community and hoping to make it to the ELF11 conference in London as well to talk about the interlinkage of multilingual practices and empathy. Thank you Kone for enabling these travel plans! Networking, spreading the word about your work and learning about cutting-edge research done elsewhere is an essential part of this academic business. More important still is publishing the results, of course! That is a definite goal for this year as well.

Anna is due to begin her own research period funded by Karjalaisen Kulttuurin Edistämissäätiö in the autumn, doubling the research power. Way-hey! She will be presenting her work in the TuMaTa project on community art and negotiating artistic practices in AAGII at the XIX ISA World Congress of Sociology in Toronto and start working on publications, both joint and separate ones.

At the Encounters in Art seminar in November, our invited speaker Liisa Raevaara discussed, among many other things, the role of the researcher in a community art based project. You participate, you observe, you learn, and you get such a lot for yourself and for the academic community, but it takes perhaps a year or more for the researcher to be able to analyse the data and publish the work. The payback to the artistic community is always necessarily delayed, rather than immediate, although the researcher would of course like to return the favour and make her own contribution to the collaboration sooner. We recognize the sentiment, but then, there is another side to long research processes as well.

Minni, Anna and I met at Minni’s home in Pekkala a few weeks back, had a lovely lunch and discussed this year’s plans. Anna and I also explained our research and publication schedules to Minni and said that it will take us probably a year or so to start publishing the results. On the other hand, the data that we now have is so valuable and rich that we can keep using it for years to come, because it offers so many different angles for analysis. Minni was delighted with the slow food approach. How nice that we’re not expected to process and package all our results straight away and move on to something else! We are allowed to spend time to focus on and deepen your understanding of a single data set, idea, field of research. This is indeed the upside of being a researcher, at least once you have actually secured the time and necessary funds to do the work…

I therefore wish the best of luck to every single academic struggling to obtain research funding and to all the artists with wonderful creative ideas that they would like to bring into the world! May the Force be with you. Don’t give up.


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