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University showcases work on Southbank

Tackling social challenges through architecture and design was one of the University projects selected for an event on London’s Southbank yesterday.

Work by the University of Portsmouth was one of several examples selected for Making Places, an exhibition showcasing the impact of universities on their regional economy. University staff and students and representatives from the creative industries gathered for the exhibition celebrating university contributions to the creative economy.

Portsmouth was selected to demonstrate the work undertaken by the Project Office, the University’s architectural consultancy, which is helping to reinvigorate a Portsmouth charity. The Beneficial Foundation provides education, training and rehabilitation for disadvantaged adults, particularly those with learning difficulties and other disabilities. Making places Beneficial Foundation_02 web

Staff and students from the Project Office worked with the charity to produce ideas and designs for income generation, social enterprise, branding and the holistic redesign of the charity’s building, in order to meet the challenges presented by a difficult funding environment. The Beneficial Foundation have since begun putting many of these ideas into place and the Project Office will be helping them to develop bigger and better long-term ideas to ensure they have a sustainable future.

The event, organised by the University Alliance shone a spotlight on universities’ role in cultural leadership, supporting the arts and driving forward the creative economy in their cities and regions. It aimed to highlight examples of existing partnerships and the ways in which universities are acting as custodians and champions of the arts.

Professor Pal Ahluwalia, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation), who attended the event, said he was thrilled to see so much recognition and support for the University’s work within the creative industries.

“The creative industries are worth £84.1 billion per year to the UK economy and are often perfectly placed to address real issues within the city they are based. I am proud to be part of a University that uses our creative talent to make a real contribution to the local economy and to people’s lives.”

Portsmouth’s performing arts students brought some unexpected entertainment to the occasion with what Senior Lecturer, George Burrows, described as ‘Barbershock’ – a cross between a flash mob and a barbershop. His students burst into song with their rendition of ‘Wake up Little Susie.’ George said: “Performing arts sometimes gets forgotten about in the creative industries but it is in fact one of the largest contributors of all. We wanted to celebrate everything that makes Portsmouth such a vibrant place to study in the creative arts.”

The event’s keynote speaker was Darren Henley OBE, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, who visited the University recently and who commented that the University of Portsmouth had creativity ‘oozing out of every pore.’ At the event he said: “Higher education institutions are playing an increasingly vital role as custodians and champions of arts and culture in towns and cities across the country. They support the development of young talent, they lead on research of national and international significance, and their investment in arts and culture helps to build a sense of place.”

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