The Institute of Place is an interdisciplinary project that seeks to generate, interrogate and reformulate individual and collective relationships to ‘place’ through performance-research related activities.

The Institute is premised on the idea that the performing arts (as a practice-based academic discipline) offers excellent conditions to examine the diverse needs of localities and new communities through performance practice and audience engagement.

‘Place’ has emerged as a significant area for performance research and in the operations of knowledge exchange. In recent decades, the so-called ‘spatial turn’ has emphasised the dynamic character of place as a product of cultural change and conflict. The spatial turn has been associated with a shift of methods in humanities and social science towards the interdisciplinary cross-fertilisation of ideas between subjects such as geography, urban studies, philosophy and social theory (Warf & Arias, 2009). This movement of ideas has also informed a range of arts discourses (Crang & Thrift, 2000). These developments also signal an increasing interest in the nature of public interactions generated through interdisciplinary and collaborative practices in the arts.

In the context of the ‘experience economy’, the proliferation of sites for performance raises questions around what constitutes performance today, what is being performed and why and how it is performed. Similarly, the trend invites a reappraisal of the pedagogies of performing arts and of our roles as teachers. The Institute will build upon the research already undertaken at the University of Winchester by colleagues whose research revolves around ideas of ‘place’, and which encompasses practices and themes including: artistic practices in public space; culture and diversity; urban practices; performance as public debate; migration; community arts practices; health and wellbeing; and performance and environment.

This collaborative project is initiated by John Lee and Noyale Colin, in conjunction with other members of the Centre for Performance Practice and Research (CPPR), under the objective of creating a distinctive identity for some of the research undertaken within the department of Performing Arts. The Institute will generate future collaborations through external partnerships and develop external funding opportunities.

Mike Crang and Nigel Thrift. eds, (2000) Thinking Space, London: Routledge.

Barney Warf, Santa Arias (2009), The Spatial Turn: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, London: Routledge.