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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:

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