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University of Leeds: Audiences, Engagement, Participation

Institution University of Leeds
Department School of Performance and Cultural Industries
Study type Taught


This degree centers on challenging established notions of engagement and participation in the arts and culture to discover how to lead and manage a more audience-centred approach to arts management and cultural policy. You'll examine how policy makers, cultural organisations, and artists conceptualise the role of audience in contemporary cultures and economies on both a local and global scale. You’ll learn how to research arts audiences and evaluate visitor experiences. This will help you develop your professional practice as well as engage your intellectual curiosity.

The arts have enormous potential to effect positive change in society. However, participation data has uncovered a lack of diversity in the age, ethnicity, education level and socioeconomic background of audiences in the cultural sector, alongside a decline in overall levels of arts engagement. This sits alongside efforts to address accessibility and structural inequality for both audiences and the creative workforce.

This course allows you to respond and contribute to the highly topical debate surrounding strategies to increase engagement and participation, while pursuing your own interests and career ambitions. Through a combination of theoretical analysis and research, you’ll explore the possibility of creating a more genuinely participatory culture while developing your own skills in techniques and practices of engagement.

You’ll explore theoretical concepts such as co-creation, co-production, and participatory governance, alongside investigation into community and participatory arts practice, the implications of digital engagement, and conceptual design of audience experiences. Through a wide range of optional modules you can cultivate applied skills in a range of disciplines, such as digital storytelling, social enterprise, creative production and heritage management.

Leeds has a thriving cultural scene and is home to large-scale events like Leeds International Film Festival, Light Night, and Transform Festival. Our local connections allow you to interact with a range of partners including Leeds Playhouse, Leeds Museums & Galleries, Opera North, Hyde Park Picture House, The Tetley, and many other local arts and community organisations.

Flexible study options

We offer part-time, MA and PGCert options for this course, allowing you to study in the way that best suits you.

Specialist facilities

Our School is based in stage@leeds, a purpose-built landmark building that sits at the heart of campus. As our student, you’ll have access to its two professional standard, publicly licensed theatres: the main space seats 180 and is equipped with the latest technologies, and the theatre studio provides a technically advanced performance research facility.

stage@leeds hosts a range of work by students and visiting theatre companies all year round. Within the building you’ll also find rehearsal rooms, two black-box studios, costume construction and wardrobe stores, a design studio, a scenic workshop, computer aided design facilities and video-editing and sound recording.

Extensive resources

Leeds University Library is one of the UK’s major academic research libraries, and has extensive holdings to support your studies including Special Collections offering a huge range of rare books, manuscripts and art.

Highlights include materials relating to Leeds Playhouse, the English Stage Company, Phoenix Dance Theatre, as well as the archives of dramatists, directors and choreographers like Wole Soyinka, Rudolph Laban, John Moody, and William Gaskill.

Many of the Library’s materials are available online, allowing you to access them from a distance. You’ll also have access to study services like one-to-one support and skills development workshops, which will help you to get the most out of your time with us.


Postgraduate Certificate - PgCert

Postgraduate Diploma - PgDip

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