Research

‘Performance and the Maternal’ Research Project – Policy Briefing

Art enables discussion about difficult and diverse mother stories. Maternal performance can make places and make communities. Written by Lena Šimić and Emily Underwood-Lee, May 2022.

This document is targeted at policymakers, funders and commissioners, and maternal practitioners, which includes birth workers, maternal health and social care practitioners, arts administrators, curators, theatre producers, mother/artists, and artists working around maternal themes. The aim of this document is to demonstrate how the stories told by mother/artists in diverse maternal performance practices can help to change perceptions and shed light on the everyday experiences of mothers.

The document presents a short outline about the Performance and the Maternal research project, its Methodology, Findings, and a set of Recommendations. The document also included references to other Publications that have been produced as part of the Performance and the Maternal project.

Performance and the Maternal seeks to better understand the condition of the maternal through a study of maternal performance. It is driven by researching both the conditions in which mother/artists make work and the contexts in which that work is received. The fundamental principle behind the work is that we can learn more about what it means to mother by listening to the carefully crafted stories of the maternal shared by artists. This information can help us all to find community, better support women and those who mother, and improve and enhance services and policy for mothers.

The Performance and the Maternal project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and conducted between 2019 and 2022. The research team was led by Prof Emily Underwood-Lee (University of South Wales) and Dr Lena Šimić (Edge Hill University) with research assistance from Georgina Biggs and Dr Jennifer Verson.

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