Leeds to be home of UK’s first Centre for Cultural Value

 11 June 2019

Creative & Cultural Skills are a core partner in new Centre for Cultural Value in Leeds. The new centre will examine the value of arts and culture – from book clubs and pub gigs to fine art and opera.

The Centre will be based at the University of Leeds
The Centre will be based at the University of Leeds

Why do arts and culture matter? What difference do they make to people’s lives? How do we know what difference they make to individuals and communities?

These and other key questions are at the heart of a unique new Centre for Cultural Value based at the University of Leeds.

The centre will focus on the role of arts and culture in areas such as conflict resolution, education, health and wellbeing, and community regeneration, bringing together researchers with expertise in these areas with artists, arts and cultural organisations, audiences, participants and local communities.

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Arts Council England with an investment of £2 million over five years, this centre will collaborate and consult widely to advance understanding of the value of the UK’s arts and culture sector and its unexplored potential.

Dr Ben Walmsley, Associate Professor in Audience Engagement at Leeds, who will lead the new centre, said:

Our work will cover a diverse range of cultural activity from grassroots and community activities to work produced by our world-leading national organisations.

“Our work will cover a diverse range of cultural activity from grassroots and community activities to work produced by our world-leading national organisations.The Centre for Cultural Value will help stimulate public debate about the role of national and local governments in creating and enabling cultural value, informed by robust and rigorous research.”

As well as building on existing research and best practice and sharing findings via events organised with partners across the UK, the Centre for Cultural Value will offer £200,000 of seed funding to arts and cultural organisations wishing to explore new methods of evaluating their cultural value with the support of a dedicated academic researcher.

Dr Walmsley said it was hoped the centre would also examine ways in which scientific methods could help assess the health impact and benefits of arts and culture, for example by measuring the body’s responses during performances.

International collaboration was also on the horizon, he said, with a potential initial network of centres stretching from Australia through Europe to North America.

As next steps, engagement events with interested parties will be held in the autumn, ahead of a launch of the Centre for Cultural Value next February.

The centre’s establishment was one of the recommendations of the AHRC’s Cultural Value Project, which examined issues around why arts and culture matter.


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