UAL announces launch of the AKO Storytelling Institute

Conceived with the intention of “exploring the formidable applications of storytelling beyond cultural production”, the institute will run as a pilot throughout next year

University of the Arts London (UAL) has announced the launch of a new initiative, the AKO Storytelling Institute.

For clarity, the name is not intended to infer an institution offering deep dives into the back catalogue of the Brothers Grimm, or similar. Rather, the name refers to ‘storytelling’ in its modern, jargonised form.

“We believe this new institute has the potential to become an influential academic leader in a range of narrative disciplines,” explained UAL vice-chancellor, Sir Nigel Carrington, in his final month in the post.

“In particular, there is a unique opportunity to explore applied storytelling as a positive transformative agent in policy, climate, healthcare, the economy, and other arenas of societal change.”

The Storytelling Institute will run in pilot form throughout 2021, beyond which lies a relatively blank page. To that end, UAL is currently offering a 12-month secondment for a new development director to devise a longer-term academic strategy and delivery model.

We believe this new institute has the potential to become an influential academic leader in a range of narrative disciplines – UAL vice-chancellor, Nigel Carrington

The venture is the fourth UAL institute to be founded in recent times, following the Creative Computing Institute, Social Design Institute and Decolonising Arts Institute. Funding comes via a gift of £4m from the AKO Foundation, established by Nicolai Tangen, the founder of investment partnership, AKO Capital.

“In an era of fake news, a global pandemic, the growing influence of social media, and inaction in the face of a climate emergency, the manner in which we create, receive and understand narratives about the world around us is more important than ever,” said UAL.

“We conceive of storytelling in the broadest sense, making meaning in visual, verbal, immersive and physical arenas. We already have significant areas of expertise in a very wide range of storytelling fields, as well as being the guardians of influential storytelling assets and special collections. The new AKO Storytelling Institute will explore the formidable applications of storytelling beyond cultural production.”

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