Design thinking in action.

     Here's a selection of Bird & Gorton projects to give you a flavour of what we do. We specialise in helping organisations think collaboratively, lead creatively, and shape new programmes that really meet people’s needs. All of our projects help understand and create places where people can thrive.

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Royal Opera House

Leaders for Impact

We have designed and directed the Leaders for Impact leadership development programme since 2017. The intensive, year long programme is for headteachers and senior leaders who want to develop their leadership for cultural learning. Ongoing user research informs programme design and development. This blended programme combines creative online delivery and on-site activity at the Royal Opera House.
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The Space Digital Leadership User Research

Understanding UK Cultural Leaders' needs

We have been leading a user research process with The Space since 2023 to understand the needs of UK cultural sector leaders and organisation with regards to digital transformation and leadership. Analysis of people's engagement with surveys, interviews, and workshops will be used to inform prototyping and testing of support for leaders to progress digital transformation across the sector in 2024-25.
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Lifting the Lid Workshop Series

Working in the Cultural Sector & Creative Industries

Design and host an annual events series for arts and humanities AHRC-funded PhD students across 17 universities in the UK, designed to 'lift the lid' on the reality of working in and collaborating with the creative industries and cultural sector. The series is tailored to the needs of the attedees and includes sessions on careers, applying for jobs, the latest policy and strategy, and research opportunities.
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Hub for European Refugee Education

User Research & Website Development

Working with our friends at Retrofuzz, we ran a user research process of workshops, interviews and data analysis to gather insights from researchers, NGOs and practitioners working in refugee education across Europe. These insights informed our design recommendations for a new international network, database and website.
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Global Streets

Consortium Reflection & Iteration Support

Lead an annual process of reflection, re-connection and planning for 10 national Global Streets partners, including street arts festivals, local authorities and venues working in areas of low arts engagement across England. We support improved collaboration and programme iteration based on partner and audience need.
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Imperial War Museums

Design Thinking Training

Delivered bespoke design thinking training series for staff leading work across departments at IWM London, including marketing, audience engagement, capital development and digital specialists. This training was combined with mentoring, online seminars, and facilitated Design Sprint workshops to develop audience engagement and digital product work.
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The Space Digital Mentoring

Strategic Digital Mentoring Programme

We developed a new Strategic Digital Mentoring Programme to build digital capacity of cultural organisations in England in 2018. With our support, this programme has now been expanded and implemented in Scotland and Wales. We continue to support programme iteration and whole-cohort activity across annual cohorts for Arts Council England, Creative Scotland and Arts Council Wales.
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Introduction to Self-Employment

Training for ESRC & AHRC PhD students

We have designed and delivered this series of workshops introducing PhD students to the realities and opportunities of self employment since 2018. Sessions have been run with PhD researchers in ESRC and AHRC subject areas from more than 20 UK universities including Nottingham, Birmingham, Bristol, Exeter and Reading. The sessions are tailored to the needs of those who sign up to attend, and have explored everything from tax and insurance to identifying independent research specialisms, making a pitch, and finding collaborators.
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ESRC PhD Careers Workshops

Exploring Creative Non-Academic Careers for PhD researchers

We design and deliver this annual workshop series for ESRC students who are part of the South West Doctoral Training Partnership at Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth, UWE, Bath Spa, Bournemouth and Plymouth Marjon Universities. These hands-on sessions explore non-academic career pathways for PhD students in economics, social sciences and interdisciplinary subject areas related to ESRC research themes.
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Creative Barking & Dagenham

User Research & Programme Development

Devised and delivered a data audit and intensive user research process to inform how the Arts Council England-supported 'Creative People & Places' creative programme could continue to adapt to the needs and ideas of people in the Borough.
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Belgrade Theatre

Developing Creative Online Sessions Workshop

Delivered training in online sessions and user-centred approaches for Belgrade partners and staff across departments to inform the development of creative online sessions.
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Festival*UK 2022

Creative Ideas Development

Supported ideas generation as member of one of 30 creative teams projects selected to take part in the Festival*UK 2022 R&D phase, collaborating with organisations including Graeae Theatre and the Global Disability Innovation Hub.
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Digital Leadership Programme

Co-directed a Digital Leadership Programme for cultural leaders, in partnership with Cornwall Museums Partnership. We developed a series of seminars and a residential board retreat designed to build the confidence, capacity and skills of arts and cultural organisations in their use of digital. This programme was one of only 13 projects being supported by the DCMS Digital Leadership Fund.
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National Theatre

Team Away Days

Designed and facilitated annual away day for the National Theatre's Learning Team.
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National Theatre

User Research for Connections Festival Development

Led a 6-month user research, prototyping, and testing process to review and refine a new framework for the Connections Festival, building on insights from partners, users, and the NT team. Connections is the National Theatre's annual, nationwide youth theatre festival. Each year the National Theatre commissions ten new plays for young people across the UK to perform, working with 300 youth theatre companies and over 6,000 young people from every corner of the UK.
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University of Plymouth

iMayflower Leadership Development Programme

User research and design of new iMayflower leadership development programme for cross-sector leaders in Plymouth, focused on collaboration and place-making.
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London Borough of Greenwich

Borough of Culture Bid - User Research

Designed and facilitated large scale public and partner activities, including workshops, user research interviews and needs mapping, to inform Greenwich’s London Borough of Culture bid for 2019.
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Culture & Heritage Masterplan

We partnered with Intelligent Futures to undertake a design sprint and user research to develop 25-year Culture & Heritage Masterplan for this rapidly expanding town near Calgary, Canada. The Masterplan included a roadmap to help deliver on ambitions for a new 1000-capacity Okotoks Performing Arts Centre.
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Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature

Design Sprint Options Appraisal

Design sprint and user research to shape a roadmap for the organisation. This was accompanied by ‘critical friend’ mentoring support to the organisation in developing its governance, business and delivery model in response to new opportunities for programming and partnership.
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Goonhilly Earth Station

Audience of the Future Project Development

Designed and facilitated partnership team workshops for the Audience of the Future ‘Space on Earth’ project, designed to develop insights and inform plans with user needs insights at the heart.
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British Council

Lead the Way Leadership Development Programme

Design and delivery of Digital Leadership Module for Lead the Way leadership development programme for arts and cultural leaders in Singapore. Delivered at the National Gallery Singapore.
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AHRC Doctoral Training Partnerships: South West and Wales & Midlands4Cities

Digital Summer School & Unconference

Digital Leadership programme for South West and Wales and Midlands4Cities AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership PhD students. Facilitation of workshop sessions at residential summer school, and an online unconference.
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University of Warwick

Cultural Collaboration Workshops

Designed and facilitated workshops for academic researchers from across different faculties, and knowledge exchange staff. These sessions explored opportunities for creative and cultural collaboration across the region, including developing plans for work related to Coventry City of Culture.
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Nottingham Cultural Partnership

Cultural Statement & Framework

Designed the 10-year Cultural Statement and Framework for the City of Nottingham for 2017 - 2027, drawing on our user research across the city’s communities and networks.
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University of Birmingham

'Getting Collaboration Ready' Workshop

Designed and facilitated large-scale 'Getting Collaboration Ready' workshop to build momentum for collaboration between AHRC Creative Clusters bid partners, creative organisations and other Midlands universities.
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National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance

Business Plan Development

Designed and facilitated a research insights process (including board away day) to inform the development of a new 4-year business plan and the successful bid for joining the Arts Council England National Portfolio.
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Jerwood Charitable Foundation

Creative Bursaries Programme Development

Designed and facilitated team away day to introduce design thinking approaches and inform the development of the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries Programme. Each year, the programme supports up to 50 salaried jobs in arts and cultural organisations across the UK, for individuals from low socio-economic backgrounds.
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Clore Leadership Programme

International Leaders Symposium User Research

User research and design for a new International Leaders Symposium for cultural leaders, developing plans with partners including the BBC, Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund, Toronto Arts Festival and Manchester International Festival. This research led to the development of Clore’s ongoing commitment to supporting early career changemakers and the Emerging Futures Conference.
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National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance

Member Training User Research

User research project to map training needs for Arts in Criminal Justice Alliance members, and identify options to develop and test informed by these insights.
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King’s College London

Artist Residency & Cultural Practice Strategy Development

Exploring options for future artist residencies and cultural programmes to inform the strategy development for uniting cultural practice across King’s
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