Report Open Access

External evaluation of the Programme on Arts-based Research (PEEK): Statement of the Austrian Science Fund FWF on the evaluation report

Nindl, Elisabeth; Reckling, Falk; Wald-Bruckner, Andrea

Context of the Evaluation

The main aim of the FWF is to foster and sustainably support excellence in research in Austria. One component of the FWF’s portfolio is the support of arts-based research through the PEEK programme (Programm zur Entwicklung und Erschließung der Künste, PEEK). The FWF introduced the programme in 2009 in response to arts universities being given the status of universities as postulated in the amendment to the 2002 Higher Education Act, which is anchored in the Research and Technology Act of 2007. In order to provide adequate research services that correspond to the character and scope of the arts universities, arts-based research (ABR) was identified as a promising approach.

In using the term arts-based research, the FWF wishes to emphasise that the research project must be integrally related to artistic practice. Still, PEEK is understood as a basic-research and not as an application-driven research programme. Artistic practices are intended to increase and advance societal knowledge. With its focus on aesthetic and artistic processes, ABR differs fundamentally from disciplines in the arts and cultural studies, such as literary criticism and history, art history, and musicology.

The PEEK programme funds clearly defined research projects of high artistic and academic quality in the field of ABR. The funding includes capacity-building arrangements as well as new strategies for the dissemination of artistic productions. However, it is neither a programme for the promotion of artistic practice per se, nor a scheme to develop teaching or training.

Since its launch in 2009, PEEK has followed a consistent bottom-up principle. Proposals can be submitted once a year at a set deadline, and the budget of each call is roughly fixed. The proposals are evaluated by at least two international reviewers. The FWF also relies on an expert board (PEEK Board) of six international researchers in the field of ABR during the decision making. The PEEK Board ranks the applications on the basis of reviews from international experts. As in other FWF programmes, the final funding decision is made by the FWF Board (FWF-Kuratorium).

PEEK is not restricted to arts universities. Researchers from all Austrian research institutions as well as individuals involved in arts-based research who hold the necessary qualifications are invited to submit proposals. This includes artists affiliated with a university or non-university institution in Austria in order to ensure the necessary infrastructure, documentation, and institutional support.

Key data

  • From 2009 to 2021 the FWF allocated €34.6 million (1.5% of its total budget in 2020) to PEEK projects.
  • During this period, 102 projects (out of 692 applications) were funded. The average project lasts for 36-48 months and has a budget of approx. €350,000.
  • In the twelve calls since 2009, the funding success rate increased from 11% up to 20%, but varied over the years.
  • 50-60% of the successful projects are carried out by arts universities, with technical universities also being strongly represented in PEEK.
  • Most projects cover multiple disciplines; in almost 75% of the projects, the arts make up at least 50% of the project.




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