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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Portrush Skateboarding Park takes great leap forward as UU secures £58K funding

Person holding skateboard

Ulster University has secured £58,000 in Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funding to explore Portrush’s cultural skateboarding tradition and develop new knowledge about community and cross-sector partnership working in the town. 

 

The funding is from AHRC’s Creative Communities programme, based at Northumbria University, and will see the appointment of a new ‘Community Innovation Practitioner’ (CIP) from Ulster University, Dr Jim Donaghey. Dr Donaghey will work in collaboration with third-sector partner CAUS (the Causeway Association of Urban Sports) and the wider Portrush skateboarding community to tackle shared challenges faced by the local community. 

 


This project will build on Dr Donaghey’s work with local skater and videographer Slaine Browne on the ‘Skate Stopped Portrush’ initiative, which was recently showcased at San Diego State University and secured the support of world famous, skateboard legend Tony Hawk for the ‘Get Portrush a Skatepark’ campaign along the way. 

 

As CIP on this project, Dr Donaghey will work with partners to develop an understanding of the value of skaters in Portrush as a creative community, and use the video archive of his project partner Slaine Browne as a key resource. Local skateboarders will be invited to view this material before reimagining their creative practice in key locations across Portrush. 

 


Videos produced from the project, which will counterpose old and new footage, will be used to spark wider dialogue around the skateboarders’ use of public space. A public screening of the videos produced so far will take place at the Playhouse Cinema in Portrush at 7.30pm on Friday 29 September, as part of the Swell Community Festival


 Dr Jim Donaghey

 Dr Jim Donaghey


Welcoming the announcement, Dr Jim Donaghey, Research Fellow at Ulster University, said: 


“The campaign to ‘Get Portrush a Skatepark!’ has been ongoing for more than 25 years now. Thanks to the tenacity of local groups such as Causeway Association of Urban Sports and the wider skateboarding community, that goal is within reach. 

 

“This research support from AHRC’s Creative Communities fund and Ulster University’s Impact Acceleration Account enables me to showcase the creativity of skateboarders in Portrush and to highlight their innovative use of public space. In support of CAUS’s campaign work, the project aims to develop understanding of the value of skaters as a ‘creative community’.” 

 


As the CIP, Dr Donaghey will capture vital new knowledge on the roles of community and non-academic partners, with learnings from all CIP-led projects across the UK informing a series of policy papers on culture, communities and levelling-up by the programme in 2025.  

 

Executive Chair of AHRC Prof. Christopher Smith is clear about AHRC’s commitment to diversifying collaborative R&D, he adds: 


“Everyone everywhere should benefit from and have the opportunity to engage in R&D through creativity and culture at a local level no matter their location, means or background. And arts and humanities must continue to innovate in mechanisms of funding, in methods of knowledge and exchange, and in products and services which change people’s lives.” 

 


AHRC Creative Communities Programme Director Prof. Katy Shaw details the value of the CIP Pilot: 


“The CIP pilot is a significant investment by AHRC that recognises the evidence provided by our report that shows how co-creation and collaboration are key to addressing the biggest challenges and opportunities facing our research ecosystem today. By building more inclusive models of innovation, and by opening the door to research for more people and in more places, we can diversify who does research, who benefits from its findings, and show how co-creation can catalyse our creative communities across the UK.” 

 

Find out more about Community Innovation Practitioners here:


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