PhD: Putting Children’s Rights at the Heart of Cultural Policy and Practice

c. Cedric Audinot
c. Cedric Audinot

From October 2023, Thérèse Kearns is undertaking a 3.5 year SGSAH collaborative PhD in partnership with Queen Margaret University and University of Aberdeen, which seeks to answer the main research question: "How does putting children’s rights at the heart of cultural policy and practice have an impact on an arts organisation in terms of structures, process, and working practices?" 

Thérèse will be examining Imaginate as a site of change, including researching the Creative Encounters project, producing a methodological model setting out key steps, indicators, successes, and challenges to the incorporation of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) within Imaginate’s core work.

The PhD is an explorative case study that seeks to map the changes that ingraining a children’s rights-based approach will have on Imaginate in terms of their policy, practices and processes.  Thérèse intends to use an ethnographic lens in her research as well as a child-centred approach and creative methods to better understand how the Creative Encounters project impacts the children involved as well as Imaginate as an organisation.

Creative Encounters is Imaginate’s flagship three-year project in partnership with North Edinburgh Arts, focused on the incorporation of the UNCRC. Together, children, artists and Imaginate will explore what it means to put children's rights at the heart of the creative process, giving a central role to children’s ideas, interests and voices. 

Earlier this year, Thérèse helped write Building Your Case, a toolkit for practitioners, which summarises important policies and research articles (incl. key stats), showing the benefits that performances can bring to children. This resource is aimed at helping artists make a stronger case for their work to be funded. 

Funded by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities, the University of Aberdeen and Queen Margaret University.