University of Edinburgh: Hub ignites creative spark to drive social change

A new initiative that will use the arts and creativity to promote social justice in communities has been launched.

The Binks Hub unites academics, artists and communities to jointly develop initiatives to redress inequalities and change people’s lives for the better.

The hub will deliver positive change by connecting communities using art and creative projects. Activities will also boost opportunities for young people and address inequalities in health and wellbeing.

Research showcase
The Binks Hub was launched at an event hosted by Professor Peter Mathieson, the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University, and Professor Dorothy Miell, Head of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, at Dovecot Studios.

The launch showcased examples of the University’s current Scotland-wide research and community collaborations that the Binks Hub will build upon.

Creative research
Among those celebrated was Scottish Opera’s Breath Cycle project – designed to benefit people with lung conditions, including Long Covid – which was developed with the expertise of Gareth Williams, a composer and Chancellor’s Fellow at Edinburgh College of Art.

Also on show were examples of film, music, photography, poetry and tapestry that have been used in creative research.

Driving change
The Binks Hub is supported by a charitable trust, Binks Trust. It is supporting the Hub as it unites the Trust’s longstanding support for the arts in Scotland with a desire to enable research that makes a real difference to people’s lives.

The investment will also develop early career research expertise through a PhD studentship and five Binks Scholarships for students on the innovative, interdisciplinary MSc by Research in Health Humanities and Arts programme, in collaboration with the University’s Centre for Creative-Relational Inquiry.

The recipients of the scholarships will be based in local communities working in partnership with sectors such as health, social care and education.

The ethos of the Binks Hub is to develop research and other creative activities in collaboration with communities. By involving the voices and lived experiences of those affected by the social issues being researched, opportunities are created for skill development, and for those skills to be shared within and across communities. Our work is already being supported by a UK-wide Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) investment linked to the levelling-up agenda. ‘Art Is Everywhere’ is demonstrating the contribution of arts and humanities to local regeneration and development, and tackling inequalities in North Lanarkshire. This is only the beginning!

Dr Marisa de Andrade
Co-Director of the Binks Hub