Helen Carswell Call for Proposals – 2021 » School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design
Skip to main content Skip to local navigation

Helen Carswell Call for Proposals – 2021

Helen Carswell Call for Proposals – 2021

Call for Proposals – 2021

The Helen Carswell Chair in Community Engaged Research in the Arts welcomes the submission of research proposals that can inform the practice, programming, or curricula of a community music school. In a continued partnership between York University and Regent Park School of Music (RPSM) - Jane and Finch, we support special projects aimed at researching and bolstering community arts in the Jane and Finch neighbourhood and beyond.

A child plays the keyboard

Children from the Regent Park School of Music play the keyboard

We invite the submission of any project proposal whose research objectives will benefit community arts organizations including RPSM. While the research project may not directly involve participants from RPSM, the outcomes should benefit the school along with other community arts organizations.

Proposals should outline how the proposed research project will benefit RPSM based on consultations with the school (see contact information below). To this end, we are particularly interested in projects that address the following RPSM research priorities:

  1. Virtual learning and programming – Research topics may include but are not limited to: building a VR classroom, investigating innovative tools for online teaching, and exploring how to build new communities through online music projects
  2. Health – how does a community music school like RPSM continue to prioritize health, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  3. Curriculum development – Including research which looks at RPSM through a Black-inclusion / anti-oppression lens and helps schools like RPSM develop their musical and social curricula to address anti-Black racism. Research topics may include but are not limited to: program models, repertoire lists which offer more than the Eurocentric classical model, new vocabularies in music, teaching tools that lead to performance opportunities and musical adventures in a variety of contexts within or beyond the concert hall.

The above are RPSM’s research priorities for the 2021/2022 school year. However, we welcome additional ideas for projects that may inform RPSM’s curriculum and programming.

Proposals are encouraged to build upon previous Helen Carswell Chair research wherever possible. To view our comprehensive list of previous research topics, visit our Helen Carswell collection on Yorkspace here.

Eligible Applicants

  • All faculty and graduate students from any department at York University are encouraged to apply. We welcome interdisciplinary research, therefore a background in music is not required
  • Recipients of funding from previous years are eligible to re-apply in order to continue or extend ongoing research.
    Details for the proposal
  • Please consult the attached Appendix A: “Checklist and Guidelines” to format your proposal • Project methodologies must follow VPRI’s research guidelines at York University, which includes no face-to-face research involving human participants
  • Projects must follow RPSM’s health and safety protocols if involving RPSM participants
  • Research question(s) should show direct benefit to RPSM
  • Deliverables of the project should be clearly indicated in your proposal
  • If the research directly involves participants from RPSM, proposal should include a letter of intent signed off by RPSM
  • Proposals should outline the project's impact, both short term and long term • Proposals should describe how the findings from the research project can be implemented in long-term practice at a community arts school such as RPSM
  • Additional support and personalized recommendations to clarify how RPSM specifically can implement the research findings is strongly encouraged
  • Proposals should include a budget and a project timeline
  • The budget maximum for each project is $20,000
  • The timeline for projects can range from 6 months to 18 months, beginning as early as September 2021 and ending no later than January 2023
  • All proposals must include a bibliography


  • Proposals are to be submitted via email to Amy Hillis at ahillis@yorku.ca.
  • The deadline for the submission of proposals is July 1st, 2021.
  • Applicants will be informed of decisions in late July 2021.

General Terms for the Project:

  • Projects involving human participants will require ethics review and funds are disbursed only AFTER ethics clearance.
  • Researchers will be required to write and present an interim and final report.
  • Researchers will be required to prepare a literature review.
  • Researchers will be required to participate in dissemination activities in the following ways:
    • Share their findings at RPSM Professional Development workshops
    • Present a paper and/or participate in seminars/workshops for at least two dissemination events that will be organized by the Chair

Prospective researchers are strongly recommended to contact both of the following representatives before submitting a proposal:
Amy Hillis - Helen Carswell Chair | ahillis@yorku.ca

Richard Marsella - Executive Director, Regent Park School of Music | director@rpmusic.org

More about the Helen Carswell Chair:
The aim of the partnership between RPSM, the Helen Carswell Chair in Community Engaged Research in the Arts, members of its advisory working group, and York University’s Knowledge Mobilization team, is to support and encourage a growing cohort of graduate and faculty researchers whose collective multi-disciplinary research projects will benefit children and youth from the Jane and Finch community in the following ways:

  • Improve and/or increase the impact RPSM- Jane and Finch has on children from marginalized neighbourhoods
  • Engage and help drive new knowledge and practice to community-based groups serving children in the Jane and Finch community
  • Conduct rigorous academic research exploring the many benefits of community music programs and the links between music and learning
  • Significantly benefit children from high-risk neighbourhoods and fortify community music programs globally by informing their programming through publications, conferences and other forms of knowledge mobilization

For more information on our past projects and activities, please visit the Helen Carswell Chair’s Yorkspace page as well as our website at helencarswell.ampd.yorku.ca.

More about the Regent Park School of Music (RPSM):

RPSM provides access to subsidized private, group and ensemble music lessons to children and youth aged 4-18 in the Jane and Finch community. Through RPSM’s unique Creative Curriculum, students explore many genres of music, from classical and jazz to electronic music using a variety of instruments. For more information on RPSM, visit https://www.rpmusic.org/.


The purpose of this guideline is to keep you focused on describing how your project will help the community, including the benefits to RPSM. The sections and questions below may be used to create an outline for your proposal. However, the questions are not mandatory; they should be regarded as prompts to help you articulate your ideas in a community-engaged way. Your proposal should include a cover page, project description and appendices (see below for the list of necessary appendices to include).

Heading/Cover page: Project title/ date/ name and contact information of the principal investigator(s)/ current position of investigator(s)/ faculty affiliation(s) of the investigator(s)

Outline and Description of the project: Use subheadings in your project description; it will be easier to read.

Paragraph 1: Introduction – background and definitions (150 – 300 words):

  • Which problem(s) in the community will your project address? / What is your claim? (use statistics, anecdotes, quotations, etc.)
  • What is the general concept and the narrow topic?
  • Include your research questions here
  • How is this problem relevant to RPSM? / Why is it important for RPSM to address this problem? (Make reference to the research priorities in the CFP)
  • What will happen if this problem is not addressed? / Why should they care?

Paragraph 2: Describe your project (150 – 300 words):

  • What is your objective? What will your project achieve?
  • What are your deliverables?
  • Who will benefit most from this project in the community?
  • Why is this approach best for RPSM? Are there any limitations?
  • What was the response from your consultation with RSPM representatives (if applicable)?
  • Will your research involve human participants?
  • Will your research involve human participants from RPSM?

Paragraph 3: Methodology (150 – 300 words):

  • How will you achieve your objectives?
  • Will you use qualitative/quantitative methods?
  • Are you using participants from RPSM (staff and/or students)? If so, how?
  • How does your methodology abide by COVID protocols and restrictions including no “face-to-face” research as per VPRI’s research guidelines?

Paragraph 4: Impact & Implementation (150 – 300 words):

  • In what ways do you hope to share your findings?
  • What are the short-term impacts of your project?
  • What are the long-term impacts of your project?
  • How can your findings be implemented at a community arts organization and/or a community music school such as RPSM?
  • How will your findings be implemented at RPSM specifically?

Paragraph 5: Restate the relevance/importance of your project.

  • Make reference to the goals in the CFP and your research objectives


  1. Bibliography
  2. Timeline - How long will your project last? Outline the stages of your project.
  3. Budget
    1. List any and all expenses specific to your project here
    2. How many hours will you work per month? (for graduate students only, Carswell hourly rate= $50/h)
    3. Do you need special equipment? How much will it cost?
    4. Are there costs for travelling?
    5. Do you need to consult with anyone? How much will they charge?
  4. Relevant biographical information for project: CV and/or biography
    ▪ Mention relevant qualifications and experiences of the principal investigator(s)
  5. Supporting letters
    ▪ Including Letter of Intent signed by RPSM (if project involves RPSM participants)
    ▪ Any other supporting letters from community or research partners for the proposed project

Use the following checklist to ensure that you have addressed the requirements of the CFP:

  • Heading/Cover page
  • Description of the project
  • Appendices:
    o Timeline
    o Budget
    o Biography and/or relevant CV
    o Letter of Intent signed by RPSM (if applicable)
    o Bibliography