Creative Engagement Fellowship

Building upon ground-breaking research, we are proud to work with the Wellcome Trust (ISSF) to enable interdisciplinary approaches to research and engagement, by joining academics and artists for the betterment of our communities.
Inspired by the University of Exeter’s Arts and Culture Unit, the 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.
For the researcher, it enables them to inject creativity into their practice that values community engagement. For the creative practitioners, it offers them the opportunity to engage with innovative research while developing their practice skills.  
The Fellowship was developed through the work accomplished by U.matter, an engagement project focused on supporting community health, and funding supplied by the Wellcome Trust’s Institutional Strategic Support Fund, which supports research within health and biomedical sciences towards interdisciplinary research and public engagement.
In 2021, Phase 1 was launched exploring the topics of either ‘Racial Equity 2020’ or ‘Beyond Ableist’. Each project was selected based on their ability to allow co-creation and adhere to the core themes – explore them below.
As of 2022 we are developing and launching Phase 2 of the Creative Engagement Fellowship. Read below for more information on the upcoming events, key dates and how to get involved.
The university of leicester
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Phase 2 of the Creative Engagement Fellowship schemes aims to build upon what we learned through Phase 1, to further support projects that not only suits the needs of the academics and the creative practitioners but to yield greater results through each project.

This includes extending the original timeframe from 3 months to 6 months, increasing the funding opportunities to £10k per project and embedding our work into the universities incredible colleges and institutions. This scheme aims to support early-career researchers and developing creative practitioners to engage with the public in a supportive and encouraging environment, which will ensure the exchange of vital skills and work to better the communities to work within.

Each project will have the choice of three themes to explore over 6 months in their own field of study:

  • Racism – responding to the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter campaign.
  • Ableism – responding to ableism within our communities and connected to AAC mission.
  • Class – responding to the high levels of poverty throughout Leicester and the raising of the cost of living that is currently effecting communities.

For examples of applications of these themes, please explore projects from Phase 1 below.

For the scheme, each project is proposed by the academic but developed with the creative practitioner for effective public engagement. The creative practitioner will be found through our staff at Attenborough Arts Centre, utilising our networks of working artists across Leicestershire and the UK. For Phase 1 we found truly incredible artists and creatives who were embedded within their communities and experts within their own fields, which brought projects to life in an exciting and ground-breaking way.

Although each project has freedom within their approach to their projects and areas of study, each project must create a digital output at the end of the 6 months. This can be in any form such as an illustration, a webpage, audio guide, blogpost, a PowerPoint, etc. and can be decided upon from through the development of the project.

If you would like more information, please email our Academic Engagement Coordinator, Paige Manning, at

The deadline for submission to take part in Phase 2 has now passed.

Phase 1

Dementia & Ethnicity

By developing storytelling methods combined with knowledge of mental health issues, specifically dementia, psychology Professor Elisabeta Mukaetova-Ladinska and theatre company, Phizzical, worked to address the relationships South Asian communities have with mental health. The project worked to promote person-centred healthy cognitive ageing, through understanding the communities’ media consumptions and social roles. The research informed the creation of immersive cultural events, such as ‘ladies sangeet parties’ – environments that promoted open conversations about mental health for all.

This Is Me

Psychology Professor John Maltby and writer & theatre-maker Angela Clerkin constructed a five-week series of workshops targeted at marginalised groups – particularly women and non-binary students, students of colour, and those with accessibility needs – to explore creative ways of expressing identity. The workshops demonstrated the positive impacts arts can have on improving research-related engagement and inclusion to provide wider opportunities for better representation, which in turn improves wellbeing.

Racial Equity in Museums

Both graduates of Museum Studies, Dr Katherine Bunning, and visual artist & researcher Emii Alrai aimed to find greater avenues for expression and examination within the museums sector, to grow inclusive institutional cultures. The collaboration resulted in new relationships for future research and the design of a shared online space to support greater sector engagement within racial theory research while exploring new concepts within practice

Empathy in Medical Training

Director of the Empathy Museum, Clare Patey, and Dr Rachel Winter, of Leicester Medical School, collaborated to further the conversations about nurturing empathy within medical students through creativity. Research has shown that building empathy not only benefits professionals, but also the patients’ healthcare. Building upon this, five coffee mornings were created to develop teaching resources with the help of medics, artists, and thinkers, with the discussions focused upon mental health and inclusivity of disabilities.

All The Things We Are Navigating

The UoL Doctoral College collaborated with writer, Paula Varjack, to create “All The Things We Are Navigating” – an interactive sound piece, developed for internal usage, that explored minority ethnic postgraduate researchers relationships with mental health through alternative methods other than the written form. The project featured UoL staff and black, biracial, and non-ethnic postgraduate researchers to build understanding around the challenges they face, thus allowing for greater communication of their needs through the development of alternative routes.

Click here to read our Final Report on Phase 1 of the scheme.


Explore below to find our Figshare that showcases all of our resources and materials from each project, and to watch the completed webinar by Dr Marie Nugent on Phase 1 of the scheme.


Explore U.matter, a community partner engagement project focused on supporting community health through diverse programming,

Contact Us

Interested in joining the Fellowship? Contact us through our form to learn of new opportunities and how to take part.


Explore our materials and reports on Figshare, where all outputs are citable, shareable, and accessible.


Learn more about research undertaken into art and research collaborations that engage and benefit the public.