Research opportunities

The University of Leeds has an international reputation for the cutting-edge research, generated through our outstanding people and world-leading facilities. The Cultural Institute supports researchers to develop impactful relationships with external partners, recognising that collaboration is a key element of research excellence. 

The Cultural Institute offers a single gateway to information, support and practical advice to connect external partners with academics in the University from all disciplines, inviting them to contribute new ideas and expertise to projects, from their inception right through to bids for external funding that support our collaborative work. 

We broker conversations between academics and professionals in the creative and cultural sector, strengthening existing partnerships and acting as a catalyst for new ones. 

Our programme of funding schemes, workshops, showcases and conferences helps us nurture these connections. Please contact culturalinstitute@leeds.ac.uk if you have any queries about the programmes listed below. 

Leeds Creative Labs 

Leeds Creative Labs is our pioneering ‘blue skies’ programme, harnessing the varied skills and talents of University of Leeds academics and creative innovators to spark fresh connections and reap surprising benefits. By pairing creative professionals with researchers from the University, the initiative provides funding, inspiration and opportunity for artists and researchers to explore, innovate, co-produce and take risks. 

Funding programmes 

Our funding programmes support academics at the University of Leeds to develop collaborative research projects with external partners.  

Ignite fund

Our Ignite fund was established in 2012 to support engaging, relevant and impact-led research. Since then, we have provided funding to over 120 individuals to connect with hundreds of organisations, resulting in a broad range of larger research partnerships.  

Interdisciplinary Research and Impact Fund for Culture

Since 2020 we have partnered with the Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute (LAHRI) to manage the Interdisciplinary Research and Impact Fund for Culture, which supports University of Leeds academics to develop an interdisciplinary research or impact project with representation from the arts and humanities and/or a cultural element. 

The deadline for the current round is Wednesday 22 September at 4pm. See the LAHRI website for more details.

Leeds Museums and Galleries Innovation Fund

In partnership with Leeds Museums and Galleries, we launched a cross-disciplinary innovation fund supports academics to undertake research projects inspired by Leeds Museums and Galleries’ collections. Containing over one million objects, they are some of the best outside of London with a number of collections designated as national significance status.

We have supported two rounds of the Leeds Museums and Galleries Innovation Fund since 2018, which led to a number of partnerships with a wide range of academic disciplines. A third round will open in late 2021.  

Arts and Health  

Since 2016 we have focused our research support towards an Arts and Health programme, bringing researchers from across the University together with creative practitioners to explore how humanity's most pressing questions can be approached through the intersection of arts and health.

We act as a broker for the creative and cultural sector, strengthening existing partnerships and acting as a catalyst for new ones with a number of events, workshops, presentations and conferences. 

Arts and Health symposium

In June 2018, over 120 delegates attended our inaugural ‘Arts and Health’ symposium. Researchers from ten academic schools met with artists, creative and cultural sector professionals, public health practitioners and third sector organisations.  

Young People, the Arts, and Mental Health conference

In June 2019, we hosted a Young People, the Arts, and Mental Health conference to consider how we could collectively work with children and young people to improve their mental health outcomes, through cultural participation. Through workshops, presentations, performances and panel discussions we enabled lively conversation and shared Arts and Health research, policy and practice. 

Beyond Measure?

Over summer 2020, we ran Beyond Measure?, a digital engagement programme exploring research and evaluation into culture and health, with partners Leeds Arts, Health and Wellbeing Network and the Centre for Cultural Value. The programme included micro-commissions, panel discussions, a social prescribing project and engagement events. 

Leeds Arts, Health and Wellbeing Network  

We are a founding member of the city-wide Leeds Arts, Health and Wellbeing Network, in partnership with Leeds City Council and other cultural and health organisations across Leeds.  

The network, which is hosted by the Cultural Institute, aims to connect clinicians and public health bodies with a range of organisations and arts professionals who are engaging in arts and health activities in Leeds. 

Clinicians and public health practitioners, people who use arts and health services, their families, researchers who are investigating health and wellbeing through the lens of arts and culture, artists whose practice broadly addresses issues of health and wellbeing, creative and cultural sector professionals and third sector organisations are all invited to sign up to join.  

Sign up to the LAHWN newsletter.

Immersive technologies 

Immersive technologies – including augmented, mixed and virtual reality – are radically changing the ways we process information and interact with the world, with profound implications for the creative economy and cultural experiences.

With the University’s Centre for Immersive Technologies, we are helping to broaden access to the nation’s culture and heritage by supporting changes in the delivery of entertainment and journalism, providing critical perspectives, and using immersive technologies to address social challenges. 

Centre for Cultural Value 

The UK’s national Centre for Cultural Value is based at the School of Performance and Cultural Industries and is supported by the University’s Cultural Institute. The Centre focuses 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.  

Future Fashion Factory 

Future Fashion Factory is a multi-million pound investment from the AHRC’s Creative Clusters fund to transform the fashion sector’s capacity for creative innovation. The project development was supported by the Cultural Institute, and we continue to creatively engage with the programme. 

Get involved 

Opportunities for researchers and cultural professionals are held throughout the year and advertised in our newsletter. For latest news and events, sign up to our newsletter.