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Calvin Taylor

Professor Calvin Taylor

Colleagues will be sorry to learn of the death, on 27 January, of Calvin Taylor, Professor in Cultural Economy in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries.   The following tribute has been contributed by his friend, former colleague and Head of School, Professor Alice O’Grady.

During his twenty-five years at the University of Leeds, Calvin made a unique contribution to the study of the creative economy and was the epitome of a scholar concerned both with intellectual advancement and the role of knowledge in regional cultural and economic life.   Calvin was Chair in Cultural Economy in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries for nine years and was the Pro-Dean for Research and Innovation in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures before taking early retirement in 2017 due to ill health.

Calvin held a PhD in theoretical political economy from the University of Glasgow.   With his first academic post at Bretton Hall College in 1992, he became deeply involved in the arts and the role of the cultural industries as part of urban regeneration in the North of England.   He worked for seven years with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and with regional development agencies, the Arts Council and local authorities and produced influential reports on the economic impact and the potential of the creative industries in Yorkshire.   In 2000, he was the founding Chair of the Creative Industries Development Agency, an organisation set up to support the development of successful creative enterprises.   He embedded this unique set of experiences in the development of the School of Performance and Cultural Industries and this legacy continues to underpin much of the School’s activity.

Calvin’s engagement with creative industries projects operated at an international level.   He worked with policy communities all over the world including Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Croatia, Azerbaijan, Tanzania, Kenya and Pakistan and with public bodies such as UNESCO and WIPO.   In particular, Calvin made a distinct international contribution in China.   He was one of the first Western experts to be invited by state officials, in the early 2000s, and introduced the discourse of cultural and creative economy into China.   Calvin shared his links from UNESCO generously with other colleagues, which greatly assisted the development of the UNESCO collaboration with China in the area of cultural policy and creative economy, an initiative that continues to flourish to this day.

Calvin wrote widely on the economy of culture, including the impact and value of culture, the economic and material structures of cultural production and consumption, and on knowledge exchange and the role of higher education in facilitating sustainable economic growth.   As well as his leadership in research, Calvin made a significant contribution to teaching.   He initiated and, for several years, led the internationally recognised Masters programme in Culture, Creativity and Entrepreneurship that continues to attract students from all over the world.

Calvin will be remembered as a great scholar, a gifted lecturer, and a committed colleague who was a driving force within our School.   We owe a great deal to Calvin’s vision, ambition and collegiality.   He was a deeply private man, but enormously generous in nurturing the development of others.   Tributes that have come in from colleagues, students and collaborators demonstrate the far reaching impact and influence he had on so many people.   At the age of 55, he was taken far too soon and he will be sorely missed by us all.   Our deepest sympathies are with Calvin’s wife, Professor Sita Popat, of the School of Performance and Cultural Industries, and their family.

Calvin’s funeral will be held on Wednesday 20 February at 1.40 pm at Lawnswood Crematorium, followed by the interment at Tarn Moor Memorial Woodland near Skipton.   There will be a reception from 5 pm at Leeds Urban Bike Park, Ring Road, Middleton Park, Leeds  LS10 3TN.   Everyone is welcome to attend any part of the day.   Family flowers only, please.   Donations, in lieu of flowers, may be made to St Gemma’s Hospice.

The flag on the Parkinson Building will be flown at half-mast on the day of the funeral in Calvin’s memory.