J. Bianchi

Bath Spa University (UNITED KINGDOM)
The paper presents theoretical frameworks, research methodology and outcomes of the interactive arts project Scoping the City based in the World Heritage City of Bath, UK. The project, based at Bath Spa University (BSU), forms a module within the Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) for Secondary teachers specializing in Art and Design. Scoping the City provides opportunities for trainee teachers within an ITE course to develop knowledge, understanding and critical insights on the significance of social and cultural capital within the Art and Design curriculum and beyond, considering potential for the impact of cultural engagement on aspirations and achievement across the wider curriculum.

Scoping the City, establishes links between ITE, cultural partners, industrial heritage charities and businesses and educational partners from local schools, colleges and special schools. The project explores the role of museums in disseminating both historical and contemporary perspectives on city life reflecting a diverse approach to on-going cultural heritage and social capital. By involving a wide range of participants and audiences, museums can contribute to challenging misconceptions of the city as an exclusive enclave of wealth and privilege, providing cultural and educational partners with opportunities for inclusive critical and creative engagement.

The project enriches participants’ understanding of constructions of personal and socio-cultural identity through an interactive, creative arts project investigating alternative perspectives of a world heritage city’s cultural life through two contrasting museum collections, disseminating diverse aspects of Bath’s industrial and cultural heritage. The Museum of Bath at Work presents the development of Bath as a retailing and manufacturing centre, featuring a reconstruction of the Bowler’s Victorian engineering business; the Holburne Museum comprises the art and artefacts collections of Sir Thomas William Holburne (1793-1874) housed within an eighteenth century mansion, complemented by contemporary art and craft exhibitions sited within the gardens, the new architectural wing, and the original galleries.

At the Museum of Bath at Work, the project facilitates ITE trainees in working with young people from a range of local educational institutions to challenge notions of Bath as an elite cultural city, developing a sculptural exhibition sited within the Museum's industrial heritage displays. Participants consider issues of social cohesion, evaluating the role of manufacturing within a wealthy city of leisure, while investigations in the Georgian Holburne Museum, interrogate notions of collecting as a means of constructing and expressing personal and social identity.

Drawing on cultural commentators such as Freire, Giroux, Bourdieu, Williams and Hooper-Greenhill, the paper will evaluate the project’s scope in enriching participants’ understanding of their local heritage while providing potential for creative engagement and participation.