A few words about the project

Several sticky notes on a wall.
The about article

QUAL is designed specifically for small and medium sized creative organisations and has been developed by artists and academics working together. It aims to illuminate the value and benefits of qualitative research by presenting the real-life experience of small arts companies in QUAL in Practice.

QUAL also aims to encourage arts organisations to undertake qualitative research, with straightforward explanations of the stages of a research project in QUAL Essentials.


How QUAL came about

Charlotte Gilmore and Celia Duffy have been working together on research for small arts organisations for a number of years. QUAL was conceived as a follow-on from Charlotte’s project The Enactment of Cultural Values and Tastemaking in Contemporary Classical Music AH/1006278/1 which was funded under the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of its Cultural Value scheme to apply learning from the first stage projects in the practices of small arts organisations.

From the outset we wanted to make the QUAL project (funded by the AHRC’s Creative Economy and Cultural Value stream) a research partnership between artists and academics and to ensure that the QUAL resource was straightforward, practical and appropriate to arts companies’ needs.  We are very grateful to our arts partners for their collaborative spirit over the course of QUAL.


Our approach to the QUAL project

Our starting point was to invite people from small arts organisations to engage with us, initially through workshops, to explore their knowledge and use of research. Eighty people from across the arts attended workshops in Glasgow, Dundee, Edinburgh and Aberdeen in 2017. We also worked in depth with a number of case study organisations with specific research needs and designed and implemented tailored qualitative research projects to address those needs.  Many of these projects have had positive impacts on the organisations and those involved have become ‘qualitative research savvy’ – one of the aims of the project. The Case Study projects are downloadable from the Resources page.

We wanted to build a useful resource on qualitative research specifically targeted at arts companies. This was initially envisaged as a ‘how to’ toolkit and guide; however during the development of the toolkit, and following feedback from our arts partners and collaborators, we changed its orientation towards advocacy of qualitative research, whilst retaining a practical, but less didactic, slant.

We were concerned to make the resource as relevant to users’ needs as possible. The most powerful advocacy for the value of qualitative research comes from the range of arts organisations in our QUAL videos. In the text sections of QUAL we drew on both the advice of our artistic partners on content, tone and language (seeking to avoid, or at least explain, research-speak and jargon) and our insider research knowledge and experience, to cut to the chase and present QUAL Essentials.