SoMa – Social Matrices


SoMa is a think tank for culture which conducts research into creative practices and their effects on culture and society.

SoMa aims to enhance the role of creativity in society by building up bodies of knowledge and experience that reveal the social matrices which make culture the keystone of society.

SoMa’s activities are based on the umbrella theme of Cultures of Listening. Our research projects focus on how social, cultural and political processes and structures influence how we live, and the ways in which we define our relations to space and place.

SoMa is the research programme of parent organisation, Proboscis.


  • explore the roles of creative people and the ‘cultural industries’ in the development of society, culture and public policy by conducting ‘action research’.
  • assess the impact of creative activities, and in particular the experimental arts, on society and culture as a whole by drawing on bodies of knowledge & experience from the fields of Art & Design and the Social Sciences.
  • identify ways through ‘cultural analysis’ in which creative practices can be critical forces for change and development in society, such as being effective tools in social and economic regeneration.
  • develop links with industry to explore new forms of partnership and investment in culture to bring greater benefits to communities, audiences, practitioners and investors.
  • evaluate and enhance current thinking on the relationship between culture and the economy to broaden the understanding of the former’s role in the development of society.
  • influence public policy around the role of creativity in learning, work and play.
  • embed creativity in everyday life by stimulating life long learning.


Stimulating Innovation & Creativity

  • devise and realise practical projects as models for innovation and collaboration.
  • investigate the impact of new technologies (and artists’ use of them) on society.
  • explore the importance of experimental creative arts for industry and innovation and champion artists as key links in the development chain of new technologies, services and practices.
  • rethink what public art can be and how it impacts on society through new approaches and technologies.

Networks for Collaboration

  • research how networks and modes of communication – virtual and physical – foster and build communities (of people and interests), and are transformative of social and cultural relations within local and across global communities.

Access & Undersanding

  • organise events (talks, symposia, colloquia etc) and publications (research reports and creative publications) placing SoMa’s findings in the public realm to foster critical debate.
  • feed back into teaching programmes and research activities of partner institutions, acting as an interface for further collaborations between practitioners from different disciplines.
  • seek out new sites for contemporary art to reach audiences unable to engage with the current structure of galleries and museums – such as public libraries and new media production centres.