Meet our team
We have a small core team based at the University of Leeds. We also work closely with our team of Associate Directors who provide specialist expertise and academic leadership, and are based in partner universities across the UK.
Ben provides strategic and research leadership for the Centre, develops our profile and builds partnerships with the academic and cultural sectors. He also leads on our relationships with stakeholders.
Ben is Professor of Cultural Engagement and Director of Research and Innovation in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries at the University of Leeds. His research encompasses arts management, arts marketing, audience studies and cultural policy, with a focus on audience engagement and enrichment; change management in the arts; and cultural value and leadership.
Prior to his academic career, Ben had 10 years’ experience in arts management, most recently as Producer at the National Theatre of Scotland.
Anne helps represent the Centre to funders and stakeholders, developing our relationships in the cultural sector, particularly with sector networks. Anne guides the development of the centre’s engagement strategy and sector-facing resources including a mass online open course (MOOC) on research and evaluation.
Anne is the founder and Chief Executive of The Audience Agency, the UK national charity for public engagement with arts, museums and heritage, enabling reach, relevance and resilience across the sector. Anne has been influential, over three decades, improving practice and advocating for change in the cultural sector, especially in terms of encouraging an audience-centred approach and in the use of data and other evidence in the development of policy and practice.
Liz makes sure the Centre runs effectively, providing project management expertise to make sure we’re achieving our objectives. As well as managing the Centre’s activities Liz oversees our Collaborate funding programme.
Liz has worked as a senior project manager for the University of Leeds for six years, most recently as part of the University’s Cultural Institute where she was Evaluation Manager for the National Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy Programme. Prior to this she worked in the civil service implementing a national sector skills development strategy, and managed arts development projects for local authorities and national charities.
Jenny helps communicate what we do and why to our stakeholders and audiences. She provides strategic direction for all our communications and looks for new ways to drive engagement with our work.
Jenny brings significant communications and project management experience in the higher education sector. She has led award-winning widening participation programmes and has developed communication strategies at two top global business schools. For the last 7 years, Jenny has worked as a freelance writer, developing travel and culture content for publications such as The Guardian, The Financial Times, Lonely Planet and The Independent. She has also worked as a freelance editor and proofreader for the British Council.
John synthesises and summarises relevant research and helps make it as accessible as possible to the cultural sector. His current focus is an extensive review of research and practice relating everyday creativity and participation.
John completed his PhD in 2020 which examined artist-led collectives through the lens of friendship to better understand the values art and locality.
John is co-founder of artist-led collective The Retro Bar at the End of the Universe and has a curatorial background in both museums, galleries and in artist-led activity. His research interests include collectivism in art, the role of place in shaping artist-led activity and the intersections between cultural policy and visual arts ecologies.
Amy helps us to communicate our work and reach new audiences. This includes promoting our research digests and events, creating and scheduling engaging content for our social channels and ensuring our resources and platforms can be accessed by as many people as possible.
Amy has over 15 years’ experience working in communication roles in the arts, culture and non-profit sectors. She worked as part of the marketing team at the Royal Shakespeare Company before starting a freelance career in 2017. As a freelancer she has worked with a range of clients to deliver marketing campaigns, digital marketing consultancy, digital advertising, social media management, training and mentoring.
Robin creates content for the Centre, engaging our stakeholders and audiences by presenting our work in accessible and digestible formats. This includes designing reports, assisting with social media and updating our website. He also helps organise our series of events and workshops.
Robin has previously worked in the music industry as a writer, events organiser, radio host and curator. He delivered editorial direction in his roles at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and Norman Records, and as a freelancer he has produced feature content for a number of composers and ensembles. He has promoted concerts in Leeds and Bradford, and also co-runs a record label dedicated to amplifying experimental music.
Andy supports the planning and management of the Centre’s multi-partner projects, ensuring they run efficiently and support our shared aims and ambitions. Andy works closely with the Centre Manager, external partners and across university departments to ensure operational planning is in place and effective.
Over the last 17 years, Andy has gathered a wide base of project management experience across the Arts & Cultural, Charity and Education Sectors. Working initially as a Teacher and more recently as a Project Manager with specialist focuses in education, creative writing, visual arts and museums, Andy has co-ordinated many successful projects, programmes and partner events. Andy has worked for First Story, Impressions Gallery, Bradford Museums & Galleries and National Science & Media Museum among others. Andy is also a Board Member for The Writing Squad.
Emma synthesises and summarises relevant research for the Centre, and helps to make it as accessible as possible to the cultural sector. Their current focus is an extensive review of research and practice relating to lifelong value of cultural engagement, including work spanning disciplines such as audience and visitor studies, audience engagement, cultural participation, policy and arts management.
Emma is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Leeds Arts & Humanities Research Institute, an Associate Consultant at The Audience Agency, and completed their PhD in 2022 which explored the processes of participatory sense-making, articulation and communication of cultural value in contemporary theatre-making and marketing practice, funded by the White Rose College of Arts & Humanities (WRoCAH). They have expertise in research design, qualitative and participatory co-research.
Maria supports the team in the planning, co-ordination and day-to-day delivery of the Centre’s projects, ensuring they run efficiently and meet our objectives. Maria works closely with the Centre Manager, Project Co-ordinator, external partners and across the University departments to ensure operational planning is in place and effective.
Maria completed her MA European Studies and Psychology degree in 2021 at the University of Dundee. For over two years, Maria worked as a PR Assistant for the Dundee University Students’ Association, where she supported the organisation and execution of social events and campaigns. She is passionate about writing and her articles, short stories and poems have been published in The Magdalen (student-led), Psych-Talk (led by the British Psychology Society), Marketing Gazette and the Student Publication Association national magazine.
Anna builds relationships with external partners and policymakers on behalf of the Centre. Working with our research and communications teams, she engages stakeholders, academics and practitioners in our work, articulating its impact to a wide range of audiences.
Anna has been a long-time champion of applied research and development. She has worked in senior Lottery funding positions, leading strategies for film culture in Greater London and the North of England. Her work includes growing new audiences for cinema through Film Hub North, co-founding industry conference This Way Up and co-designing Beyond the Multiplex, a research project exploring the formation of screen audiences. She continues to be interested in improving the outlook for freelancers within the wider cultural ecology.
Anna is based in Sheffield where she maintains her artistic practice and freelance audience-facing work. She is a Trustee for RivelinCo in Hillsborough and an RSA Fellow.
Photo: Emma Ledwith