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Northern Ireland

Improvise and mobilize: addressing social isolation through applied research and arts practice

We are delighted to partner with Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queens University Belfast, and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust: Arts in Health Initiative in Northern Ireland to explore potential applications of improvisation as a response to social isolation.

Exploratory community meetings with partners:

We have held a number of meetings with community partners, researchers, artists and students at Queens University Belfast to explore the potential of connection and exploratory work. Partners included Drake Music Ensemble, University of the Atypical, and Belfast Health and Social Care Trust groups: Hemsworth Court supported living, Men’s Support group, Serenity group, Cregagh Community Centre, Brookland’s Youth Centre, Fairholm supported living, held in conjunction with SARC and Arts in Health.

Research talks:

Rebecca Caines. “Improvisation as an Interdisciplinary Research Methodology” Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast. November 8, 2017.

Michelle Stewart. “Improvise and Mobilize: addressing social isolation through applied research and arts practice,” Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast.November 24, 2018.

Rebecca Caines. “Fragile Devices: Migrating Across and Between Through Improvisation.” International Federation for Theatre Research conference, Belgrade, July 2018.

Visiting Research Fellowship:

Rebecca Caines was granted a Visiting Research Fellowship at Sonic Arts Research Centre in summer 2018. This Fellowship was generously supported by the British Academy and has allowed her to be based in Belfast to work on the project, and other research endeavours. See their website for details on this program.


We are very pleased that one of the outcomes of this work has been the ImprovEnabled digital tools incubator: “Sonic Blankets and Sensory Training Models: Using Emerging Technologies for Community Benefit”. Click the Incubator tab for full details.

This event was sponsored by the Office of the Vice-President (Research), and the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance, University of Regina; with support from CanFASD, IICSI, and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. Researchers came from Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast; University of Regina; University of the Sunshine Coast; and worked with representatives from community partners Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, University of Atypical, and The Drake Music Project Northern Ireland. This week of workshops, presentations, and hackathon events in June 2018 has led to exciting ongoing partnerships and projects. The incubator team worked in collaboration with families who have been working with the project from its inception to explore new options for using new technologies to aid in rest and relaxation, providing new models for training and support.