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9th June, 2016

Then: Now Reflections on a decade of collaboration between academia

The Culture Capital Exchange

The Culture Capital Exchange (TCCE) is a network of Higher Education Institutions in London that was first established just over a decade ago as part of King’s College London, as the London Centre for Arts and Cultural Exchange (LCACE).

When we officially launched in June 2005, we were a two-year funded university project with seven London-based university members, tasked with networking and connecting up the worlds of research, practice and policy for mutual benefit.

Our first decade has gone by incredibly quickly, and to mark this significant milestone we felt it was important to take time away from the usual day-to-day business of producing conferences, festivals, sand-pits, and networking activities to commission this booklet of short papers and essays. We are doing so to celebrate some of the really positive work that has been taking place, to encourage reflection on some key developments in this field in the last decade and also, of course, to shine a light on at least some of the challenges that lie ahead.

Networks are fascinating to grow and indeed to watch growing. They are also, of course, unpredictable and unruly, and they appear to thrive, persist and evolve in all kinds of conditions. Over the last decade, our network has also grown considerably, and often in unexpected ways. We have slowly but steadily grown into a membership-based organisation with thirteen core members in and around London. Over that time we have been quietly establishing ourselves as a network that connects, brokers and curates relationships at the heart of an increasingly important niche: the interstitial space between Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and the cultural and creative sectors, where two large and increasingly closely-related complexes of knowledge and creativity meet, talk and work together.

The existing scale and strength of our network, and the energy, trust and goodwill around it, was of key importance when one of our long-term partners, Queen Mary University of London, invited us to collaborate on a proposal to the Arts and Humanities Research Council to set up Creativeworks London. TCCE is a key delivery partner for this ground-breaking initiative which itself boasts an even wider partnership of over forty institutions. Crucially, its establishment has enabled us to support well over one hundred collaborations between academic researchers and small arts and creative companies, across three funding schemes, since 2012.

As I write, we are just launching a brand new initiative, entitled The Exchange, supported by Arts Council England and Higher Education Funding Council for England. This will support the development of a new tranche of creative collaborations between universities and creative organisations in parts of England beyond the capital. In other words, TCCE is taking its first steps towards becoming a national network.

We are hugely indebted to the tremendous input, energy, support and goodwill of our colleagues, both current and former, as well as those individuals, institutions and organisations who have worked with us over the last decade. Ultimately, it is due to so many key individuals that TCCE has been able to grow and thrive as a network. We are yet further indebted to our colleagues who have so kindly agreed to write for this publication. By doing so, they help us in turn to reflect on the journey so far, speculate on the future, spark new conversations and questions, and, we hope, bring to wider attention some much-needed dialogue on the nature of networking, exchange and collaboration between academia and cultural and creative practitioners and institutions in London in the here and now.

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