Makey Wakey receives support from Outreach to Ownership Research Pilot

Outreach to Ownership is an innovative cross-border research pilot which will run from January until September 2022 funded by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and managed by Historic England and Historic Environment Scotland. 

£125,000 worth of funding was made available for community-led research into pressing issues facing the UK’s culture and heritage sectors. After a successful application, The Art House is one of 5 organisations to be part of the project.

Since January 2019, The Art House has developed partnerships with artists, community groups, and CICs to fill 20 vacant retail units in The Ridings Shopping Centre, rejuvenating them through creativity for the benefit of the local community.

The focus for our ‘Outreach to Ownership’ project is to undertake social impact research to measure the value of this collaborative venture and its significance. We want to challenge our assumptions, make changes that will strengthen Makey Wakey and deliver more for our community.

The research question we are proposing is:

What is the impact of Makey Wakey on its partners, participants, the commercial tenants, visitors, and the owners of The Ridings Shopping Centre?

Our research methods will include participatory arts sessions, led by experienced artists and facilitators, to ease conversations about community and their place within Makey Wakey. 

As well as in-person workshops and conversations we will also conduct an online survey to capture information about who is using our spaces, their beneficiaries, jobs and opportunities created.

The use of empty shops is on the agenda of local authorities and landlords throughout the UK. We are working to create a blueprint to share the Makey Wakey model with other towns and cities so they can replicate our success. Undertaking social and economic impact research will help us strengthen the model. 

Lucy Norton, our Project Coordinator and leading the Makey Wakey programme, shares just how significant this funding will be in understanding the impact that the project has on Wakefield’s community.

“The Art House is thrilled to be part of the Outreach to Ownership pilot project with Historic England and Historic Environment Scotland.

Our interim-use spaces project ‘Makey Wakey’ has been developing since 2019. The project is a partnership between The Art House, a visual arts centre, and The Ridings Shopping Centre in Wakefield, exploring potential futures for traditional retail spaces through alternative uses. We have built a community of artists, social enterprises, and community groups in the shopping centre and anecdotally we know that this project is making a difference in our city, but we haven’t had the chance to really explore that and find out just how much change we’re making.

This community research project will provide us with sessions from research experts and capacity building training, as well as an amazing opportunity to look at our work objectively, challenge our assumptions, and empower our community partners along the way.”

– Lucy Norton, Project Coordinator at The Art House

This project gives us the unique opportunity to evaluate and reflect on the work that we do, and for that we need you! If you have a spare minute, we would greatly appreciate feedback on your experience with Makey Wakey, however big or small that may be. We have put together a short survey, suitable for both those involved in the programme and members of the public. Thank you so much for your input, simply click below to get started!


Makey Wakey Survey

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