Leeds Creative Labs

This ground-breaking programme pairs creative professionals with researchers from the University. Leeds Creative Labs provides funding, inspiration, opportunities and above all, the co-creative space to share ideas and experiences without deadlines and targets. 

The match is made by an expert panel, based not only on the participants’ professional interests, but also on their shared sense of curiosity and ambition to explore ideas without limits.

Participants are not expected to respond to a specific brief. Instead, both academic and creative partners enter into the experience on an equal footing, and have the rare opportunity of supported but open-ended space in which to explore and create ideas together without an agenda. With no expectation of an output, the process allows partners to establish the focus of their engagement with each other from the outset. 

Sharing a playful, creative approach with new colleagues, who had never worked in this way, was joyful.

Wendy Harris, Artistic Director at tutti frutti

Digital creativity collaborations 

In early editions of Leeds Creative Labs, we brought together creative, digital innovators with arts and humanities researchers. Participants discovered inspiring areas of shared interest and their creative practice and research took on new dimensions as a result. 

  • Leeds Creative Labs: Digital Creative Edition 2012 
  • Leeds Creative Labs: Digital Creative Edition 2014 

Pilot projects from these collaborations produced a variety of ideas, ranging from a video game on the ethics of drone warfare developed with digital artists Invisible Flock, to smartphone tools for training actors with Cursor Ltd. 

Performing arts collaborations 

Leeds Creative Labs was expanded in 2015 to include collaboration with arts partners, facilitated through the university’s DARE partnership with Opera North. The Cultural Institute connected creative partners from across the performing arts sector including dance, opera and theatre together with academics from biological sciences, chemistry and education as well as arts and humanities. 

  • Leeds Creative Labs: DARE Edition 2015 
  • Leeds Creative Labs: DARE Edition 2016 
  • Leeds Creative Labs: DARE Edition 2017 

Science-led collaborations 

Since 2017, we have developed editions of Creative Labs which are led not by the artistic field of the creative partners, but by particular strengths in scientific research at the University of Leeds. We have run the following editions with interdisciplinary researchers and engineers: 

  • Leeds Creative Labs: Biological Sciences Edition 2017 
  • Leeds Creative Labs: Climate Edition 2018 
  • Leeds Creative Labs: Biological Sciences Edition 2018  
  • Leeds Creative Labs: Bragg Edition 2019 

Virtual collaborations 

The model changed once more in 2020, when for the first time all participants collaborated remotely. This enabled creative partners from across the UK to participate. In 2021, we opened the programme to postgraduate taught students for our first ‘Masters’ edition. Students of different disciplines within our Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures explored their creativity through the programme.

  • Leeds Creative Labs: Virtual Edition 2020 
  • Leeds Creative Labs: Masters Edition 2021