The below letter been sent by Natalie Fenton on 8th November 2017 to Professor Thompson of the AHRC concerns relating to the Call for the Creative Industries Clusters Programme from the Media, Communications and Cultural Studies Subject Association (MeCCSA).
We have not yet received a response, though will publish this if we receive one.
The MeCCSA letter is also available as a PDF download.
8 November 2017
Dear Professor Thompson,
Creative Industries Clusters Programme
We wish to express our very warm welcome for the focus on ‘creative industries’ being fostered by the AHRC. This is an area, however defined or demarcated, that is of central concern to a large proportion of our members. As the major subject association representing academics working in the field of media, communications, and cultural research this research funding development is of great interest and importance.
We do, however, have a major concern about the recent Call for this programme. The Call stresses that “… the innovations produced by our investment must have the potential to contribute to commercial outcomes. We are not able to fund purely theoretical research, critical studies or historical analysis”. This limitation on potential research has caused considerable distress and disquiet in the research community. We recognise the focus of the Programme on application and innovation, and of course the value of collaboration with non-academic organisations in the relevant fields. Nonetheless, it is of very major concern that a Research Council whose mission is explicitly to “fund excellent research projects not fully supported from other sources, including those of field-defining or transformative potential and deploying interdisciplinary and thematic approaches” should restrict a major initiative in this way.
Developments in the area of creative industries are rapid, dynamic, and rooted in a fast changing basis of conception and activity. It is for these very reasons that critical work, detached from the immediate and pragmatic application of research to commercial outcome, is so vital, and indeed so practical. Whatever the priorities of the Programme, to rule out such fundamental work entirely is surely to betray the purpose of AHRC funding as well as inappropriately to limit the range and value of research likely to emerge from the Programme.
We would welcome your comments, and note that we wish to publish both this letter and any response in our Association Newsletter.
Prof. Natalie Fenton