Information for Loughborough University Academics

Parfyme - Pool (26)

(Photo credit: Parfyme's 'Backpack Factory' as part of Group Process, 2009. Photo: Julian Hughes.)

Radar's remit is to commission contemporary artists to make new, public-facing work alongside and in response to academic research across Loughborough's two campuses. We play an active role in the whole production process: we do not generally deliver projects where we have not been involved in the commissioning process. 

We are always interested in hearing from Loughborough University based researchers interested in working with us on a project, although please understand that our capacity is limited by the size of our team and our budget. You do not need to have specific artists or art practices in mind, though we are always happy to engage with suggestions. Where appropriate we might also suggest bringing on-board other partner organisations in the arts and beyond.

There is no obligation to provide financial support for projects, and we are happy to help develop projects that may struggle to find funding elsewhere. However, we are always keen to hear from academics who would like to work with Radar on a funding bid. Projects are typically ‘active’ to the public for a semester to a year, but this of course requires work prior to this period.

We are happy to work with researchers from all disciplines; and across career stages, including PGR students. Where a project team is to be put together this can involve academics based at other institutions. Previous projects have also involved partner non-academic organisations; non-academic Loughborough University employees; and undergraduate and postgraduate students. 

If you'd like to know more about how we work, we recommend you read our FAQs (below), or email Radar's Producer David Bell (maternity cover from July 2020): d.m.bell@lboro.ac.uk. 

What’s the difference between Radar and LU Arts? Which should I work with?

Radar has an explicit remit to bring contemporary arts practice into dialogue with academic research carried out across Loughborough’s two campuses in order to produce new, public-facing artistic works. It is one part of the programme offered by LU Arts, which also organises a student-focussed arts programme (some of which is open to staff and the wider public), works with the University’s art collection, commissions new work for the campus, and oversees booking of the Martin Hall Exhibition Space. If you are interested in the production of new artistic work alongside/in response to/as part of your academic research then Radar is for you. If you would like to run workshops for students that have an artistic component or display work in the exhibition space then the LU Arts programme may be more appropriate: please email Nick Slater (n.slater@lboro.ac.uk). Don’t worry if you’re unsure though: we’re all part of the same team, so can make a call on where’s the best fit. Occasional events are promoted using both the LU Arts and Radar brands.

What kinds of artists does Radar commission?

We have worked with performance artists, composers, choreographers, participatory artists, film-makers, digital artists and more besides. What unites the artists we work is that they understand research to be a core component of their work, and involve others in that process (the academic, relevant publics, etc). Whilst work we have commissioned has been shown in traditional galleries, we rarely curate exhibitions ourselves. For a better understanding of the kinds of projects we commission, see our current and archival projects; although please note that Radar's remit has changed to be more explicitly research-focussed since its inception in 2007.

I’m a Loughborough academic researcher interested in working with Radar. What do I do?

Great! Please read this FAQ, have a look at our current and archived projects, and have a think about what might work best for you, then drop our Producer David Bell (maternity cover from July 2020) an email (d.m.bell@lboro.ac.uk). Please note that our capacity is limited and we cannot work with everyone who gets in touch.

How long does a project last?

Radar projects are typically publicly active for a semester or an academic year; although work behind the scenes has to begin well in advance. But we do have a degree of flexibility to this end.

I'd like to test the water before committing to something bigger: is this possible?

Yes, we're very happy to explore small-scale commissions or events that might lead to a larger commission at some point in the future.

What does Radar contribute to a project?

We will work with academic project members to identify and approach a suitable artist/artists, manage the project (including budgeting), promote the project and deliver events. Our team has experience in curating, project management, academic research, arts promotion and event hosting. We have a small budget to put towards projects, which we top up as necessary with funding from arts funders. Sometimes funded academic partners commit project funds to Radar outputs.

I know the artist I want to commission: will Radar facilitate their work?

As a general rule, Radar prefers to play an active role in identifying the artist(s) who will work on a project: our remit is not to deliver projects with artists chosen without our input. This does not mean you cannot approach us, and we may be able to offer some support even if we can't directly produce the project. On rare occasions, the artist(s)' work may be appropriate for a Radar project. 

What do I contribute to a project?

This depends on the precise nature of the collaboration. But we would expect you to clearly define the research/research area you would like the project to explore; meet with the Radar team on a regular basis throughout the planning and project stages; suggest potential collaborators; meet with and maintain regular communication with the artist(s); take part in public events around the project; and promote the work to your networks. You might also want to present or write on the project in academic and popular forums, possibly in collaboration with the artists and/or the Radar team. You may also undertake some collaborative research with the artist(s) (e.g. visiting an archive or conducting an experiment together), or share methods with the artist(s)/learn from the artist(s)' methods.

At what stage should I approach Radar?

The earlier the better! We like to plan well in advance, and prefer to be involved in a project’s development from the off so that we (and the artists we collectively engage) can be involved in determining the nature and direction of the project. We’d suggest getting in touch at least a year before you’d like a project to begin, but if that’s already too late don’t worry about dropping us a line.

I’d like to use artistic research methods to run workshops as part of my research. Can Radar help?

Radar's remit is to produce new artistic works for the public at large. As such, we would not consider a project where the sole output was a workshop that was only open to selective partners. But Radar projects have involved workshops with limited participants, and our team has knowledge of artistic research methods. We also know a number of artists or artistic organisations locally and nationally who it might be appropriate to introduce you to, so please do get in touch.

How do you define ‘academic researcher’?

Academics or research students at Loughborough University or Loughborough University London. Academics may include those on teaching contracts who remain active researchers. We use the term ‘academic researcher’ because we recognise that research takes many forms, and often consider our artistic and community partners to be researchers too.

Can Radar suggest other arts organisations I might work with?

Yes! Radar may not be the best fit for your project, and if it is we may not have capacity. But we can certainly point you to artists or arts organisations who might be interesting/interested.

Does Radar collaborate with other art/non-art organisations?

Yes, and we’d be happy to suggest partners or work with those you have a relationship with. In the past we’ve worked with arts organisations including Nottingham Castle gallery, Rurart, (Rouillé, France), Arts Catalyst, Wysing Arts Centre, Leicester New Walk Museum, Charnwood Arts; and non-arts institutions/organisations including Loughborough market, train operating companies, Tower Hamlets Council, Charnwood Borough Council, Loughborough Carillon Museum and Leicestershire Library Service.

I’m a Loughborough student. Can I work with Radar?

If you’re a research student then yes, absolutely, although please think carefully about how much of your time you can commit and ensure you talk to your supervisory team about any possible collaboration with Radar. A smaller, one-off event may be more suitable than a long-term project.

If you are not a research student then you wouldn’t be able to initiate a project, but there may be opportunities to get involved in a project team, to participate in our work, or to help out at our events. From time-to-time we also include Loughborough students in our public events programme, though this is normally on an invitational basis. If there is something specific you would like to be involved with please drop us an email; for general callouts for support please sign up to our mailing list.

If you’re interested in getting involved in the arts more broadly during your time at Loughborough University, check out our parent organisation LU Arts, who organise a great programme of workshops, events and tuition programmes.

I’m organising a conference/symposium/workshop on campus. Will Radar get involved?

Possibly, although for Radar to add artistic content to an academic conference we would expect it to be an integral part of the conference rather than an optional extra.

Can Radar generate me some of that lovely Impact/Public Engagement?

We hope so! We believe that the best engagement happens when artistic elements are at the heart of a research project, rather than being a bolted-on extra; and know that most funding bodies agree. Please be mindful, however, that our projects are not about translating 'difficult' research into easier to understand outputs; but about bringing different methods, approaches, knowledges and skills to research. In this we hope to reach audiences that more traditional modes of academic research do not, but also to enable the research itself to go in new directions.

Can I build Radar into my funding bid?

We’re always happy to hear from academics who’d like to work with us on a funding bid. We prefer to get involved as early as possible in a project, and for the artistic element to be built into the research of the project. We can be listed as a partner organisation on RCUK bids.

Can a Radar project assist with the delivery of my teaching?

If it forms part of a project then yes, and there is no reason why this couldn’t be built in from the beginning. Please note, however, that the primary connection must be with research (we know that the distinction between teaching and research is sometimes hard to make!).

Radar projects often involve paid and voluntary extra-curricular opportunities for students.

Does Radar work with individual academics or on a team basis?

Either! It depends what is most appropriate. If you approach us as an individual we may look to involve other academics (from Loughborough or elsewhere) at some stage in some capacity, and would of course be open to suggestions.

This sounds interesting but I don’t really ‘get’ contemporary art…

Contemporary art is a broad field and artists work in a variety of ways. We’ve worked with sound artists, sculptors, participatory artists, artist-educators, artist-researchers, performance artists and more! If you’re interested but a bit unsure please do get in touch: we’d be very happy to talk to you about the ways in which artists might engage with your research and work with you.

Can I come and chat to you? Will you come and chat to me?

We always like company over here! We have a lovely office in Martin Hall, designed for us by Giles Round. There’s plenty of space for a chat and a cuppa, though we're not always in so please email first. We also like getting around campus and would be happy to come and see you. We're also very happy to chat on the phone or over Teams (or similar).

Would you talk to my students?

Provided someone is available we’d always be happy to come and talk to your students about the work we do.

I’m an artist at Loughborough University whose research takes the form of practice-as-research. Could I work with you?

We’d be very open to this: please get in touch to discuss your ideas further!