• Evocative Report: Frodsham Goods Shed Brokerage Process

      Passila, A.; Owens, Allan; Chamberlain, O.; Lapeenranta University, Finland (2015-07-12)
      Frodsham Foundation together with the local town council had already conducted an online survey for use of the disused railways Goods Shed in the middle of the town ; a large number of responses provided strong evidence that the public wanted the building to be used, but the remoteness of this digital form of consultation had not engaged enough of the community to provide the momentum to take things forward in a way that would convince the larger county council who owned the building to hand it over on a long term lease to the Foundation and local town. We agreed on four-month period for the process and division of responsibilities. In the first month the foundation would identify and contact the focus groups they wanted us to work with; in the second the focus groups would be run; in the third the evocative report would be created and in the fourth the evocative report would be presented at an open public meeting in which the next concrete steps to be taken would be identified. Research Based Theatre as used in this case constituted a form of participatory, action and collaborative research. The data sources which formed the empirical evidence base, consisted primarily of narratives of involvement, and our reflexive narratives in response to this. The intention to research issues that surface within a community and then use the understandings that are generated from it for the benefit of those in that community has parallels with the function of applied drama and critical pedagogy. They are concerned with going beyond seeing the world as it is and creating spaces to think of it differently. A key question in this ‘connected’ approach to research is to ask how it is this possible and how are we to act in new and different ways (Schratz and Walker 1995, p.125). Nine focus group sessions took place over a one-week period, comprising a very wide range of participants: business and local entrepreneur groups, patient forums, community groups, school parent-teachers association members, community voluntary sector leaders, younger families and children, jobseekers and youngsters. The focus groups were run by our Anglo-Finnish team of four - two ABIs practitioners and two postgraduate students. Participants were aware from the outset that we were interested in not only the substantive topic of the focus group sessions, but also the ways in which we approach this, and were interested in what this allowed for. Each session began with an explanation of the research-based and arts nature of the brokerage process. The same aim informed each, which was to let as many voices as possible rub up against each other in the course of one and a half hours. The arts-based initiatives used in sessions varied according to context in order to realise this aim and the following three examples are presented to give a sense of the commonalities and differences in structure used across the nine focus groups. The Evocative Report makes transparent this process.