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What are we doing?

Collaborative activities within Leeds Cultural Education Partnership have highlighted a need for organisations to understand how schools in Leeds are engaging with arts and culture. There is a lack of data available to understand creative education and cultural engagement of schools or how the cultural and creative industries can support schools to develop and deliver an arts-rich education for young people.

This collaborative research project funded by Research England, began as a pilot in 2022/23 delivered by University of Leeds in partnership with Leeds City Council, LEEDS 2023, Open Innovations, and The Audience Agency. This work has continued into phase two in 2023/24, where we are focusing our enquiry on three areas: access, inclusion, and progression in arts education in Leeds. Currently our research is limited to in-school provision only, we hope to extend this in the future.

How are we doing this?

For the project to address the needs of the city’s cultural and education sectors, we are engaging with schools and the wider cultural community in several ways:

  • Focus group discussions during city-wide network meetings were used to inform the survey design and gain insight to the value this project could provide to the cultural and education sectors.Feedback mechanisms were also provided to a wider range of organisations to enable them to share their comments.
  • The survey was designed through cross-sector collaboration with project partners and piloted with school partners, with revisions made based on school feedback.
  • Annual surveys have been shared with all schools across Leeds. These gather data to explore how schools engage with the arts and culture, both inside and outside of their curriculum.
  • A series of case studies are being developed, informed by the survey responses, to highlight the value of art-rich education and innovative approaches in Leeds schools.

Why are we doing this?

The value of cultural engagement across all areas of life is widely recognised. Economically, it supports the development and retention of skills crucial to the continued expansion of the Creative Industries, one of the most profitable and fastest growing sectors in the UK. Societally, engagement with arts and culture improves the sense of belonging, and encourages participation and building of neighbourhoods that thrive. It also promotes mental and physical wellbeing, positively impacting the health of individuals, communities, and nations.

Mapping and evaluating cultural engagement data across schools in Leeds has the potential to highlight areas in need of governmental support to ensure equality in educational provisions. It can also highlight best practices and areas of excellence in the city. Through this work, our research facilitates evidence-based policymaking at both local and national levels.

Want to learn more?

For more information about this project please contact Dr Briony Thomas at

Interested in the data? Take me straight to the Data Catalogue