Multi-Story Water (MSW) was a community-facing, practice-as-research project aimed at developing understanding and engagement between local communities and responsible agencies in flood-prone areas of Yorkshire’s Aire valley.
The project used site-responsive creative methods to stimulate community dialogue and capacity building, in an evolving, participatory process. Notable impacts for communities and stakeholders in Yorkshire include:
- catalysing the foundation of a housing estate residents’ group which has since secured significant riverside landscape improvements;
- creating a stakeholder network group which has informed communication strategies in the water sector, with benefits for the Environment Agency, local councils and charities;
- and contributions to innovative public communications strategies highlighting major flood alleviation and river improvement schemes.
Although much of the impact is geographically local, the research has had national reach through the sharing of outcomes (performances, films, blog posts) among senior professionals.
The two novels 'Walking in Pimlico' and 'The Newgate Jig' have a broad and growing readership:
- English language versions have been published in hardback, paperback and on Amazon Kindle
- 'The Newgate Jig' has been republished in large print and as an audiobook
- Italian versions have sold combined totals of more than 15,000 copies and were promoted through online advertising
- The books are also translated into French and a Portuguese version of 'Walking in Pimlico' is available
Featherstone's research and other publications have led to adaptations for Radio 4, online essays, an iPhone app and invitations to advise a range of broadcasters on and off the screen at the BBC. She has promoted the findings of her research frequently on BBC radio and acted as a consultant to Norfox Young People's Theatre.
The research has led to a broader impact in terms of the value of creative writing. Featherstone has run commissioned workshops around the UK to encourage discussion of creative writing and promotion of understanding of how organisations can best work with authors.
Whilst the process of research has not altered, the means by which it has been shaped for broader consumption, and therefore its impact potential, have developed.Dr Ann Featherstone / Lecturer
This very original research has refocused attention onto the working experiences of professional as well as amateur performers in both rural and urban settings in the 19th century, highlighting marginal forms such as circus, fairground booth and music hall.
- Theatre and performance archives
- Periodical and trade papers
- Letters and personal diaries of performers and audience members, many sourced from descendants of their authors
Our research and writing was directly informed by media interest from Channel 4, the BBC and RTE, which highlighted the extent of public interest in 'forgotten' performance traditions.
Findings of the research have been drawn on directly by lead researcher, Dr Ann Featherstone, in her popular historical novels, 'Walking in Pimlico' and 'The Newgate Jig' to locate working-class performers in a new vision of popular cultural history.