Wellcome’s evauation of their SciArt Funding program (1996-2006)

From Amy Ione:
The Wellcome Trust has a summary and a full report of their SciArt funding program at their page:  http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/About-us/Publications/Reports/Public-engagement/Sciart-evaluation-report/index.htm

FYI, the program ran from 1996-2006. Briefly, they funded 124 projects, considered the program valuable, said it had more impact on the arts than the sciences.  They have since moved the ArtSci program into their Biomedical funding section, under an Arts Awards section.

A few interesting quotes from the report summary:

Whether it was a matter of timing or incentive, during the decade of Sciart there was a cultural shift, especially within the arts, towards more interdisciplinary practice. The burgeoning academic research culture of the visual arts in particular benefited from having Sciart as a context within which artists could develop projects. Through the contacts that it encouraged and enabled with the world of science, Sciart also helped to facilitate a tendency that was perceived to be taking place within the arts towards a more explicit ‘social engagement’ (p7)

As well as fostering innovative outputs, Sciart grants had resulted in the emergence of new processes of working, particularly in terms of artists’ practice, and innovation of process was often felt to be as important as the resulting products. The smaller Sciart R&D grants, in particular, had succeeded in fostering experimentation and innovation. (p8)

There was a strong perception that Sciart had helped to remove the barriers to cross-disciplinary collaboration and had made it easier for more arts–science collaborations to happen in the future. This was partly because of the legacy of example that it had given rise to. There were reputational benefits both to artists and to scientists from having their activities funded by the Wellcome Trust. (p9)

It was clear from the case study interviews that virtually all of the projects in receipt of Sciart funding would have either struggled to proceed at all without Sciart support or been severely restricted in what they were able to deliver. (p10) In summary, Sciart had generated a strong brand name and had enabled innovative, creative practice to flourish, often with high-quality outcomes. While some respondents pointed to areas where improvements could be made, the overall findings suggest that Sciart was an influential grants scheme that had achieved high-level impacts. It was generally agreed that those impacts were more pronounced in and on the field of the arts than the sciences. (p 10)

From here the report recommends continuing the program in a new fashion, etc.