Arts in the City

Image of street art on a shop shutter in South America
Following the success of the ZikMus project, Principal Investigator Tania Lisboa and collaborating researchers from the Centre for Performance Science (UK), Federal University of Bahia (Brazil) and Universidad Mayor de San Simon (Bolivia) have been awarded a second British Academy grant through the Knowledge Frontiers: International Interdisciplinary Research (2022) fund.

Under the British Academy call theme ‘What makes a good city’,  Dr Tania Lisboa, Reader in Performance Science and Digital Learning, has been awarded a £199,904 research grant for the collaborative project entitled "What is a good city in the context of the Global South: The role of the arts in social-cultural urban Infrastructure’. This was one of nine UK awards, and the only project to focus specifically on music and the arts in the context of South America. The project will run from 1st April 2022 to 31st March 2024. It will explore how the social-cultural urban infrastructure in two cities of South America: Salvador (Brazil) and Cochabamba (Bolivia), impacts on its citizens’ health and wellbeing by investigating levels of social connectedness, loneliness and inclusion within large cities.

In recent decades, urban development in the Global South has rapidly increased, putting a strain on the social infrastructure of cities, where challenges such as overpopulation, unequal income-distribution and societal divisions have heightened the isolation, loneliness, and poor health and wellbeing of its inhabitants. The ‘Arts in the City’ project explores how the growing evidence that the arts can promote wellbeing and social connectedness may be applied within the context of the Global South.  Using large-scale surveys in both cities, the research will explore citizens’ experiences of social-cultural engagement and its links to wellbeing, inclusion and accessibility. Interventions in the form of ‘musical encounters’ will engage a sub-group of citizens who experience isolation in their city, despite living in overcrowded urban spaces, and investigate how creative activities may enhance social connectedness to both others and their city as a whole. In particular, the musical encounters will seek to integrate families of those with disabilities across the divide of urban otherness, with mixed methods employed to investigate its effectiveness.

The findings will inform policymaking, urban planning, and social-cultural infrastructure for what makes ‘good city’ and advance the evidence base for the importance of the arts for wellbeing in the context of the Global South. It builds on the findings of research at the CPS including the ZikMus project, which highlighted the importance of music for families affected by the ZIKA virus in Brazil, and the HEartS project, which emphasised the link between cultural engagement and social wellbeing.

Arts in the City – Centre for Performance Science

Supported by

British Academy, Knowledge Frontiers: International Interdisciplinary Research (2022-24) 

Project team

Tania Lisboa 

Rosie Perkins BMus, MA, PhD, FHEA, FRSPH, HonRCM 

Diana Santiago (UFBA, Brazil) 

Pablo Pérez Donoso (UMSS, Bolivia)

Marcelo Maldonado Leyes (UMSS, Bolivia) 

Caitlin Shaughnessy




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