Attenborough Arts Centre brings artists to work with world-leading academics at the University of Leicester on ground-breaking research in a range of fields. We prioritise two-way collaboration in which artists help academics achieve greater impact and depth of public engagement, and academics provide specialist knowledge and expertise to artists which inspire new creative ideas and artworks. We also work with researchers from other universities around the UK.
We are particularly interested in socially-engaged, participatory and co-created practice. We have long-standing relationships with many different communities in Leicester.
The University of Leicester is a top 30 University research institution. The world-leading research the University is known for depends on creative thinking and we play a key role in the University of Leicester’s submissions to the Research Excellence Framework, Knowledge Exchange Framework and Teaching Excellence Framework.
Social prescribing works alongside traditional healthcare, providing non-medical support to improve health and quality of life through sustainable, supportive networks and relationships. Culture and creativity can play a key role in social prescribing. Attenborough Arts Centre has always provided a range of arts experiences and activities which can contribute to better health and quality of life for everyone. We are now working to formalise our work in social prescribing so we can extend the benefits to more people.
Oadby & Wigston Borough Council awarded The University of Leicester the Freedom of the Borough Award in 2021. Oadby & Wigston Borough Council are partners in the Civic Universities Agreement and as part of this Attenborough Arts Centre is developing a cultural partnership with them to develop more arts and culture provision in Oadby & Wigston, which is also a priority area of investment for Arts Council England.
The Civic Universities Agreement is a commitment between the University of Leicester, De Montfort University, Loughborough University, and the city and counties of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland to work together for the benefit of local people and the prosperity of our places.
Attenborough Arts Centre plays a key role in the Arts, Culture and Heritage strand of the Agreement, working to develop significant collaborations and initiatives between the Universities and local authorities to make a positive impact on the cultural life of the region.
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The City Classroom is one of the UK’s Local Cultural Education Partnerships, working to promote culture and creativity in education. First established in 2017, the partnership has seen Leicester cultural organisations Attenborough Arts Centre, Charnwood Arts, Curve Theatre, Leicester Print Workshop, Soft Touch Arts and the Spark Arts for Children collaborate with schools on a range of creative and cultural experiences. In March 2023 the University of Leicester and De Montfort University joined The City Classroom with the former leading on the next phase of the initiative which will expand the number of schools involved and promote youth voice in the partnership’s future direction.
Creative Engagement Fellowship: Phase 2
Funders: Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF), University of Leicester
The Creative Engagement Fellowship was developed to demonstrate the benefits of collaborative partnerships between the arts and research to enhance engagement within research. The interdisciplinary collaborations allow for greater diversity and inclusion within studies, ultimately making research more accessible. While the Fellowship champions the importance of engagement within research, it also provides open spaces for early career researchers and developing artists to exchange vital skills. Five projects are currently underway for 22/23.
SENsory Atelier Programme
Funders: Paul Hamlyn Foundation
SENsory Atelier gives space for children to lead their learning journeys, express themselves and access the world. It supports teachers without specialist arts subject / cultural education expertise, to enable children to lead the direction of enquiry, and reframe our understanding of how they learn. This collaborative approach shifts the schools’ reliance on external peripatetic staff, to giving teachers confidence and capacity to devise creative programmes informed by children themselves.
Medical Elective – Improving Empathy and Understanding in 3rd Year Doctors
The Medical School provide self-elect opportunities (SSC) for students to enhance their education with a programme of activities connecting doctors-in-training to artists, health practitioners and members of the community they will be working with once qualified. The focus of these various strands is always empathy and improving quality of care, but the outcome can be wider-reaching and more powerful – both for students and participants. Our Learning and Outreach Manager, Marianne Pape, facilitates the elective yearly and inspires new generations of doctors everytime.
Enhancing Student Critical Skills and Vlogging in History
With Professor Elizabeth Hurren, Professor of Modern History at University of Leicester
The aim was to provide translational opportunities for the students to engage with issues around the perfect and imperfect body, and how debates about this are shaped in popular culture and museum settings. The students visited relevant exhibitions at Attenborough Arts Centre to review these and interact with the key debates over the course of an academic year. Topics included new disability debates, fashioning mental health images, general body issues of ethnicity and exclusion in contemporary society. The students wrote up their experiences for Assignment A coursework. They also held regular debates on their new discoveries, and engaged in blogging to convey their lived experiences of what it meant to be involved in a museum culture.
Creative Engagement Fellowship: Phase 1
The Creative Engagement Fellowship was developed to demonstrate the benefits of collaborative partnerships between the arts and research to enhance engagement within research.
The interdisciplinary collaborations allow for greater diversity and inclusion within studies, ultimately making research more accessible. While the Fellowship champions the importance of engagement within research, it also provides open spaces for early career researchers and developing artists to exchange vital skills. Phase 1 was launched exploring the topics of either ‘Racial Equity 2020’ or ‘Beyond Ableist’.