Artists and journalists construct narratives that help us understand the world and shape our sense of reality, but digital technologies are having a profound and challenging impact on the way in which stories are produced and experienced. As researchers try to understand why some narratives thrive in the public sphere regardless of the quality of evidence behind them, artists and journalists are looking for innovative ways to tell stories and engage audiences ever more sceptical about what these accounts really unveil.

Contemporary Narratives Laboratory (CNL) sets up a partnership between People’s Palace Projects, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL)The Financial Times and Battersea Arts Centre to form a collaborative research project involving artists, researchers and journalists that will ask how creative approaches to storytelling based on reporting material can support crucial innovation in journalistic and artistic practice.

Funded by QMUL’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Collaboration Fund, the project ran creative residencies at Battersea Arts Centre testing collaborative approaches to different storytelling formats. Artists Tassos Stevens, Rhiannon Armstrong, Harun Morrison, Paula Varjack, Conrad Murray and André Piza worked with Financial Times journalists Emma Jacobs, Andrew Hill, Chloe Cornish and Leslie Hook and presented early work-in-progress performances at Battersea Arts Centre in June 2018. Learning from this experiment formed the basis of a following seminar programme about the future of storytelling based on contemporary issues.

The seminar, held at Queen Mary University of London, brought together a research network of artists, journalists, academics and arts organisations who continue to work on how storytelling innovation can respond to challenges such as social injustice, misinformation and audience distrust.