To this end, an application was made in 2013 for the Research Priority Area funding of the UvA Board, which focused on three core themes:
- Development of research into the history of creative cities (important research theme of the Faculty of Humanities with a link to the top sector Creative Industry as a source of research funding);
- Development and application of digital sources and methods for this type of historical research (stimulating digital humanities research and teaching);
- Focus on the history of Amsterdam (bundle and strengthen cooperation with external partners to increase the visibility and impact of FGW research).
The main goal of the CREATE program is to stimulate more programmatic research in the (digital) humanities. This is necessary because of the specialist knowledge that digital humanities research requires, but it also has a wider relevance: when researchers collaborate in clearly defined research programs, they can benefit from the pooling of each other's expertise and networks, it becomes easier to set up long-term collaboration with external partners (from the field of research as the public and private sector) and our researchers will be better positioned when applying for research funding. It is also easier to make the research visible and to demonstrate its impact.
We study the development of various cultural and creative industries through a series of smaller projects. The main pillars are:
1. The Amsterdam Time Machine
The Amsterdam Time Machine theme combines the faculty’s research into the city of Amsterdam. The aim is to build a spatio-temporal infrastructure that provides access to the 'Big Data' about the history of the city and its inhabitants, and connects this data with the data about the contemporary city. A consortium of partners from research, cultural heritage, social partners and the creative industries in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and Europe is working on a research and development agenda to realize this infrastructure and to develop models and components that also work for other local Time Machines. Within the UvA we are exploring programmatic connections with the researchers of the Center for Urban Studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences (around the themes of Urban Planning and Smart Cities / Datafied Society) and with the Faculty of Science through the university-wide Research Priority Area Human(e) AI (among others, researchers from the Informatics Institute group on Intelligent Sensory Information Systems participate in the CLARIAH and European Time Machine projects).
2. Performing Arts
The Performing Arts theme brings together the faculty's research into the history of music, theatre and film culture (now also broadened to include nightlife culture in general) in Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Comparative research is also carried out, both locally and nationally as well as internationally (e.g. through collaboration with the AHRC project European Cinema Audiences at Oxford Brookes University, for which the CREATE Lab has provided services, and with the FWO infrastructure project CINECOS at Ghent University, in which we are included as partner). The focus of this programme was initially on building up and expanding structured datasets with locations, performances, works and persons, such as OnStage, FELIX, Cinema Context and the Opera Repertoire database. As a result, CREATE is also actively approached by heritage institutions in the city, such as UvA’s own Special Collections at the University Library, the National Opera & Ballet, and Paradiso, and seeks a connection with faculty researchers and teachers who can use these data in research and education.
3. Artificial Intelligence for Cultural Heritage
The AI for Cultural Heritage theme focuses on technical research in Artificial Intelligence and data science, its application to Cultural Heritage and its use in the Arts & Humanities. AI (machine learning) has been growing in importance over the past ten years, mainly due to advances in its capacity to automate increasingly complex tasks and to the availability of ever larger amounts of data (big data). The Cultural Heritage sector, and the research community from the Arts & Humanities most engaged with it, has also witnessed an increase in the application of AI techniques to growing digital collections. After a promising start, much further research is needed to fully exploit the potential of AI in the Cultural Heritage sector.
The main areas of application of AI to Cultural Heritage collections include, but are not limited to: data extraction and augmentation (e.g., Handwritten/Optical Character Recognition), structured information extraction (e.g., event extraction), enrichment and creation of data/metadata (e.g., visual link retrieval), search and retrieval systems, engagement and creativity (e.g., generative AI art), fundamental methodological research questions (e.g., model interpretability, active and transfer learning, multimodality). CREATE is uniquely positioned within the Humanities Faculty, to create a crossroad and foster the transdisciplinary collaborations which are required to fully deliver on the potential of AI for Cultural Heritage.
4. Impact of the Humanities
Humanities scholars engage with a broad spectrum of societally-relevant questions and debates. It is common, for humanists, engage with society in diverse ways which include, but are not limited to publications. Examples are curating exhibitions and other cultural initiatives and writing pieces for a broader readership via newspapers, books and social media. While scholarly publications are not the only means to have an impact, it is reasonable to assume that they cover this broad range of interests and contributions that humanities scholars do.
The Impact of the Humanities theme focuses on assessing the societal relevance and impact of humanities research. We do so by developing text analytics to assess to what degree humanities scholarship focuses on the same topics discussed in societal debates in e.g., newspapers and other outlets (relevance). We also study if societal debates are directly influenced and changed by humanities scholarship (impact). In a pilot study we found that, for the past twenty years, humanities research in the Netherlands has contributed highly relevant work engaging with several prominent societal debates, particularly with themes such as the economy, energy, immigration, politics and geopolitics, society and culture and technology.