February 18, 2016

What is Next? Creative engagement and consultation workshop

On 12th February the Public Collaboration Lab – a one-year AHRC funded research partnership between London Borough of Camden and University of the Arts London, Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability Lab (UAL DESIS Lab – held a workshop exploring the value of creative engagement and consultation.
The workshop gathered 60 participants including local government officers from across the country (Lancashire, East Anglia, Cambridgeshire, Greater London) and design academics to explore how universities and Councils can work together to carry out local engagement in more creative and possibly more inclusive ways by using participatory design approaches; and provide opportunities for collaboration.

The afternoon kicked off with a visit to the Public Collaboration Lab exhibition at Central Saint Martins, and continued across the canal at Camden Council offices, with a warm welcome by Rachel Stopard (Deputy Chief Executive Transformation & Partnerships at London Borough of Camden).

The workshop set off with an introduction of the Public Collaboration Lab project by Chris Widgery (Strategic Lead for Innovation, Inclusion and Digital at LBC) and Adam Thorpe (Professor in Socially Responsive Design at Central Saint Martins, and principal investigator of the Public Collaboration Lab project).

The Consultation Institute and Matthew Upton (Strategic Lead for Engagement and Consultation at Camden) shared a review of the legislative landscape and trends in engagement and consultation at national and local scales.
We then moved on to a hands-on diagnostic exercise to map out different decision-making journeys. For the exercise, representatives from local governments and academia teamed up to capture decision-making journeys and identify opportunities for participatory design approaches.

We captured decision-making journeys concerned with areas as diverse as planning and the built environment, service commission or library services. We identified common trends, like early engagement, and common challenges such as the difficulty to engage beyond usual suspects, or find alternatives to the consultation and dark room analysis treadmill.
Once opportunities were identified, the workshop continued on to showcase the latest research in participatory design approaches to engagement and creative consultation. We heard three different approaches form:
Gemma Coupe (Lancaster University) presented Beyond the Castle and Leapfrog’s consultation tools;
Dr. Theodore Zamenopoulos and Dr. Katerina Alexiou (The Open University) presented community-led design approaches to coproduction;
Prof. Adam Thorpe (University of the Arts London) and Jayne Brown (London Borough of Camden) shared their experiences of the Future Libraries creative consultation project.
We wrapped up the afternoon with a glass of wine, discussing the values and challenges around creative consultation, and thinking ‘what is next?’
The Public Collaboration Lab will circulate a workshop report on the value of creative engagement and consultation shortly, based on the Public Collaboration Lab experience and participants insights using the decision-making journey tool.
We would like to keep the conversation going and foster opportunities for collaboration!
We have set a mailing list to start a Special Interest Group around Creative Engagement and Consultation. Subscribe to join the conversation!
What would you like to happen next? Should we send out a box and cross-pollinate? Did you miss the workshop and would like to know more?