Our vision is to make Leeds a world-leading centre for interdisciplinary research into culture. Through our Cultural Institute we want to ensure that the significance of culture in contributing urgent answers to complex and difficult questions facing the human race is appropriately understood and embraced across the University. 

The Cultural Institute has three main aims: to increase pioneering research collaborations with our partners, to widen cultural engagement and participation and to create more opportunities to extend the knowledge and build the skills of our students.

The Cultural Institute brings together academics and partners from across the cultural sector and beyond. 

Key strengths

From performing and preserving Jewish music, theatre and artwork thought lost as a result of the Holocaust to demonstrating the benefit of participating in contemporary dance for older people; the Cultural Institute can bring together partners from a variety of research fields and industries to find solutions to complex challenges.

Facts and figures 

  • Leeds is recognised as a global centre of research and teaching excellence in the Arts and Humanities, regularly ranked by QS in the world’s top 100, with world-class archives and facilities. 
  • There are 200 staff associated with the culture theme at the University.
  • Our pioneering DARE collaboration with Opera North was awarded a £2m grant from the Arts Council to develop a CPD programme in fundraising for UK arts professionals, and a National Summer School in Arts Fundraising and Leadership, the only one of its kind in Europe.
  • Working with Yorkshire Dance, Biological Science researchers have illuminated the health benefits of dance for young people and older adults in Leeds.
  • Since 2012 our faculties of Arts and Performance, Visual Arts and Communications have worked with over 780 third, public and private sector individuals, companies and organisations.
  • We are creating the cultural entrepreneurs of the future through our programmes of work-based professional development.

Major projects

Yorkshire Year of the Textile
Research, artists’ commissions and public engagement activities to celebrate Yorkshire’s rich cultural heritage.

Performing violence

In collaboration with Opera North the University is investigating how violence is staged in order to understand how it might best be resisted.

The archive 

The archive looks at history, policy and public debate examining - culture and the public, health, science and the public, trauma and reconciliation and crime and public order.

Cities of culture

Cities of culture looks at intersections between culture and the urban. Considering both cultural consumption and production, we are interested in questioning cities of culture and the cultures of cities.

Cultural value

Cultural value explores how the arts, culture and heritage are given significance and value by professionals, policy makers and the people who take part. Working with a wide range of local partners from the cultural and health sectors, the theme looks particularly at how ideas of value might be methodologically reimagined and politically challenged.

Digital creativity

Digital creativity seeks to maximise the potential of research across the University of Leeds that engages with the digital sphere, from the use of robotic avatars to big data. At the same time, it explores the rediscovery of ‘analogue’, material practices that have emerged in the wake of the digital turn, from the role of ‘small data’ to the revival of interest in the pinhole camera.

Key people

Performing violence
The Archive
Cities of Culture 
Cultural Value
Digital Creativity 


Professor Frank Finlay
Culture Theme lead, Dean Faulty of Arts

Sue Hayton
Research & Innovation Manager, Culture Theme

Case studies

BBC archives: creating living resources through public collaboration and engagement

Read more about the BBC archives

Project performance: new approaches to digital projection practices

Read more about project performance

Exploring concepts of citizenship and national identity

Read more