General Questions on Proposals and Collaborations

How does a research proposal for a masters programme differ from other types of proposals (i.e. such as those required for a funding application, a residency programme, or an exhibition opportunity)?

For any proposal, excellent documentation of your existing and previous work is essential, and it’s also important to read and follow the application criteria.  But in general, a research proposal will not describe a pre-determined outcome. Instead, it should communicate a sense of how you work and think, and identify the field/matters of concern you are interested in exploring through your practice and research.

As an artist, how can I develop a proposal for an exhibition?

If proposals are invited, you should pay attention to the invitation criteria and also research the work of the curator who is developing the exhibition/programme, and try to develop an informed analysis of their approach as a practitioner. You can build your understanding of curatorial practice over time by attending curators’ talks, reading exhibition publications. You should sign up to the mailing lists of international as well as local organisations/institutions even if you cannot attend events in person.

How does collaboration work in practice – what is the boundary between one person’s activity and that of their collaborator?

All collaborations are different, but virtually all practitioners and researchers need to develop collaborative skills and strategies. Some artists work both individually and as part of a collaborative partnership or group. Other artists may author their work as individuals but collaborate regularly with peers in other disciplines (cinematographers, composers, actors, fabricators, curators) to develop, articulate and realise their projects.

Developing Proposals for Practice-led Research Projects

How do I begin to develop an idea for a proposal?

Ideas develop in many different ways. You might begin with a question that interests you – something that you cannot yet answer.  You might, for example, be interested in ongoing processes, in relationships between people, things, and events, in activities or forces that you don’t yet understand. It can be useful to follow your instincts, allowing one question to lead to another, keeping your exploration open but allowing a thread to develop.

Do I need to have an art practice to complete the ARC programme?

No, if you are interested in art and research and are coming from an area other than art practice then you could propose a project that focuses on art research by drawing on the other skills you may have. But the ARC programme is not designed to give art production skills unless you already come with some training in an area of practice.

Do I have to know the outcome of my project when developing a proposal?

No, a key aspect of research is that you don’t research into what you already know! You need to identify an area of concern and therefore outline the field of interest that you will be researching into and then allow yourself the freedom to go search and find out…

I am artist who works both inside and outside the art field, approaching all of these activities as an artist. Can I use the ARC programme to research my ‘outside’  activities?

Yes, you can develop a project that is not bounded or limited by the art field.

What replaces a ‘literature review’ in the ARC model of a proposal?

Rather than reviewing ‘literature’ the proposal should show the relevant context(s) for the proposed research. This could be other artworks/project, writings, situations (historical or current) etc.

Do I need to explain how my work compares to/differs from the work of others in the art field?

No. You don’t need to describe the work of other art practitioners unless this is directly relevant to your proposal.

Is my project to be focused on what I already do in my work/practice or should it be something different/new?

You should build on what you have already developed but take the opportunity to open out and extend your enquiry.

Should I include my background and previous experiences of work, learning etc. even if they are not related to art practice?

Yes, all your experiences, skills and interests are a relevant factor and there is no need to identify ‘art specific’ aspects. They all go into making up who you are as an art researcher and the more particular they are potentially the more relevant and interesting will be their effect on your research project.

My practice involves many different activities – can I continue to do many different things on the ARC programme, or do I have to focus on one area?

Although ARC allows for a lot of flexibility in response to different practices we advise each student to identify a specific focus for their research project at the proposal stage.  This is not a ‘contract’ which has to be faithfully kept to but more a working plan which will be revised and developed over the first year of the programme.

How focused should my key research question be?

It should identify the ‘matters of concern’ but should also keep open the potential for changes of direction in response to how the research will develop. Outlining a key area of interest is a crucial decision-making process but this will not limit the scope for wider enquiry.

What is the relation between theory and practice on the Art and Research Collaboration (ARC) programme?

The programme questions and challenges the perceived hierarchies and divisions between theory and practice. A student who has an interest in one aspect of the spectrum can approach their project from this angle, working toward an understanding of theory/practice as interrelated, necessary and informative for each other.

On the Structure of the MA Programme

Do I collaborate with other students on the course?

In first year there is a specific group collaborative project. In second year students work on their specific individual project. There is the scope for students to decide to work together on a joint project as part of their main project if they wish to propose this.

How big a part of the project is the collaborative aspect?

That depends on the project and the approach developed by each student. Remember that collaboration can be with an individual, a group, or an organisation, and it will be defined differently by each student.

How do I go about identifying collaborators?

You can begin by researching individuals, groups or organisations already working in your chosen field. The ARC programme modules will introduce you to new practices and practitioners both within and beyond the art field, help you to articulate your own objectives more clearly, and provide guidance on strategies for collaboration.

I already work with a collaborator – can I continue this way of working on the ARC programme?

Yes, you can use the programme as an opportunity to deepen and extend an existing collaboration, though you will be encourage to identify a specific project as your focus.

How do I ensure that my intellectual property rights as a researcher and practitioner are protected in a collaboration?

All collaborations require clear communication of rights and responsibilities and the ARC programme will explore models of good (and bad) practice through the lecture programme. A collaboration policy, based on existence experience of working with organisations such as IMMA, is currently being developed and students can draw upon this in developing their own projects.

How do I keep my project focused over two years?

The structure and support of the ARC programme will help to keep the project focused, providing opportunities for mentoring, advice on practical matters and facilitation by people with experience. Well-chosen collaborators, or ‘project partners’, will also work as a support mechanism.

Are projects presented in public?

Each student will develop their own strategy for making their project public. There is no final year exhibition, but there will be several opportunities to develop, test and implement both group and individual projects in public.

Do I have to know who the audience is for my project?

Not necessarily, this can be part of the research itself. Often a research idea may not yet have found/developed an audience. Sometimes a project is directly intended for a specific identified audience. It all depends on the project.

How to I build an audience, or a public, for my project?

The programme will help you to understand audiences and publics,  develop strategies to connect with, or to develop, communities of interest that can support the realisation of your project.