London, May 2022 – 25 years ago, Queen Mary University of London made the bold decision to set up a new Drama Department with a practice-based research centre with a commitment to arts and social justice called People’s Palace Projects.

This week, alongside the publication of the REF – the system for assessing the quality of research in UK universities – we celebrate the results of that vision. Once more our research is assessed to be of world-leading quality with the highest level of impact. This continues to be possible thanks to the support of our partners and collaborators, all over the world.

Across Queen Mary University of London, 92% of all research was assessed as internationally excellent or world-leading.  The Queen Mary Drama department, which PPP is part of, was again rated the best in the UK. 

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PPP’s contribution to QMUL Drama REF2021

One of the case studies Queen Mary Drama submitted for evaluation was on the impact of Paul Heritage’s work with People’s Palace Projects on progressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in fragile territories of Brazil and Latin America, through collaborative arts-based research projects in favelas and Indigenous villages.  We also submitted documentation of three large-scale multi-year practice research projects as evidence of research quality.

You can learn more about some of these projects on our website at the links below:

Building the Barricades

Indigenous work and climate action

Cultural Value

Photo by Piratá Wauja

The project The Verbatim Formula, which was seeded by Dr Sylvan Baker and Dr Maggie Inchley at PPP in 2015 with funding from Queen Mary and has been part of our projects portfolio ever since, was another REF case study of research impact that contributed to the excellent results for Queen Mary’s Drama Department.

TVF works with testimonies from care-experienced young people, performed by young professional actors, to change perceptions and practices in care and education. The team is now working on a film by care-experienced young people for foster carers, in partnership with Battersea Arts Centre, Contact Theatre, Wandsworth CLICK and The Fostering Network. 

Learn more: The Verbatim Formula

Photo by Paula Siqueira

Ongoing Projects

PPP continues to be very busy! We are constantly involved in inspiring arts research projects. These are some highlights of what we are working on at the moment and what is to come:

– This week we have been visiting five partner arts organisations in the UK to hear directly from young people about the findings of the research Far Apart but Close at Heart: How arts organisations continue to support young people’s wellbeing beyond Covid-19. This is a collaboration with: Battersea Arts Centre, National Theatre Wales, Dirty Protest Wales, Royal Stratford East, Contact Theatre in Manchester, and Queen Mary Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry. The final report is available here

–  Last week we hosted three events on gendered violence against women and girls from Rio de Janeiro and London, in partnership with King’s College London, Redes da Maré, MinA (Migrants in Action) and Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. The research publication of this project led by Prof. Cathy McIlwaine is now available here.

– We recently hosted Rio de Janeiro’s Culture Secretary at QMUL to discuss arts and climate with organisations from the UK cultural sector, and are building an international creative climate leadership network, with a training exchange planned in July for 20 cultural venue managers in Rio de Janeiro.

– In late May, PPP’s team travels to India and Pakistan to work on the project PIECES with the QMUL Unit for Social & Community Psychiatry – using Theatre of the Oppressed methodology with people with psychosis, in partnership with arts partners IRC (Pakistan), EVAM (India), Julian Boal and Sanjoy Ganguly, and with the Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF) in Chennai, India, and International Research and Development (IRD) from Karachi, Pakistan. Paul Heritage has been invited to address the British High Commission in India to celebrate this pioneering, commitment-based collaboration to improve the treatment of psychosis. 

– In early September, in partnership with Redes da Maré, we’ll launch the second mental health awareness campaign in the largest favela complex in Rio de Janeiro, Maré as a result of our research project Building the Barricades. There is an extensive list of recent publications on our website, mostly in Portuguese; We plan to launch two beautiful films produced with two young poets from the favelas.

– We are editing a documentary about the impact of mining and climate change on arts/heritage organisations in Brazil, which will premiere in October at the Rio+30 summit (marking 30 years since the first UN Earth Summit); 

– Our future projects on Indigenous culture include a new short film by filmmaker Takumã Kuikuro, planning for the second edition of the Brazil Indigenous Film Festival following the success of the inaugural event with the ICA in 2021, consulting on an arts installation for Brasilia Indigenous Film Festival, and developing a new stage of a VR experience about the sacred cave of Kamuwaká, following its selection by the Copenhagen Doc Festival in April.

– We continue to incubate the Museum of Colour, which is developing two new projects for 2022-23: an exhibition These Things Matter, in partnership with Oxford University Gardens, Libraries and Museums, and My Words, the Museum’s Poetry Gallery, with Renaissance One, Words of Colour, Manchester Poetry Library, Royal Albert Memorial Museum (Exeter), and the British Library.

These projects have been made possible by funding from Arts Council England, British Academy, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Foyle Foundation, National Lottery Heritage Fund, National Institute for Health Research, Queen Mary University of London, UK Research and Innovation’s Arts & Humanities, Economic & Social, Engineering & Physical Sciences, and Medical Research Councils, and others.