Cultural Institute heralds a new era of artistic endeavour for University

The University has launched its Cultural Institute, strengthening its place in the UK’s cultural and creative economy.

A scene from A Midsummer Night's Dreaming Under the Southern Bough


It has three key roles:

  • to increase pioneering research collaborations with external partners
  • widen public engagement and participation in our artistic endeavours
  • create more opportunities for – and build the skills of – our students.

The Institute launched today at an event attended by some of the leading lights of the region’s cultural organisations, including Arts Council England Chair Sir Peter Bazalgette.  Sir Peter talked about the important role played by universities in arts and culture, citing the example of Leeds’ groundbreaking training for arts sector fundraisers.

He said: “I applaud the leadership that universities such as Leeds are taking in promoting their relationships with the creative and cultural sector to enrich the lives and life chances of everyone – particularly young people.”

During a creative extravaganza, invited guests enjoyed a wide selection of performances encompassing opera, drama, dance, poetry, music and film. Participants and speakers ranged from current students to members of Opera North, South Asian Arts UK, and Yorkshire Dance.  Performances had a global perspective, including community filmmaking in a South African township and rediscovered Jewish music and theatre feared lost in the Holocaust.

Other speakers included:

  • Richard Mantle, General Director of Opera North, and
  • Sharon Watson, Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance Theatre and chair of Leeds’ bid to be European City of Culture in 2023.

Highlighting the three main purposes of the Cultural Institute, Vice-Chancellor Sir Alan Langlands said: “We are determined that, wherever possible, our research should deliver benefits to society and the economy and have a profound impact on and relevance to people’s lives,” he said. “The challenges we face have cultural dimensions and solutions – we can’t rely on science alone, every part of the University has to pull together to tackle issues of global concern.”

Sir Alan cited the example of a new project to assist in the rehabilitation of stroke survivors by bringing together experts in performance with partners in medicine, robotics, engineering and computing.

Professor Frank Finlay, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures, said: “We are taking the lead in building resilient long-term relationships with our partners, with mutual benefits and a genuine exchange of knowledge.

“The Cultural Institute provides a new single point of contact to help even more potential partners access the University’s huge wealth of research talent.”

The Vice-Chancellor also addressed the University’s “civic responsibility” to widen cultural engagement and participation with the galleries, museums, archives, public art and artistic venues on campus. 

“Put simply, we want to engage with the wider community, including the one on our immediate doorstep, to increase knowledge and enrich people’s lives,” he said.

The Cultural Institute will also have a key role in creating even more opportunities for our students, providing learning experiences in new environments, volunteering and placement opportunities and inspiration for their own research and creative projects.

Working with industry partners could also help shape future courses to ensure students continue to graduate with skills the sector needs.

Read more about the launch.

Find out more about the Cultural Institute on its webpages or follow @UniLeedsCulture. To contact the Institute, email

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