Portrait of Clare Danek

Clare Danek

What made you want to apply to your MA course and to Leeds?

Since graduating with a BA in Fine Art almost 20 years ago I’ve worked in cultural and creative industries roles. All of my roles have shared a common theme of facilitating the development and delivery of creative work.

I was at something of a crossroads in my career, and decided it was time to take stock, consolidate knowledge gathered through years of cultural participation and industry experience, and open up some new avenues. I chose Leeds for a number of reasons – I was familiar with the work of the School of Performance and Cultural Industries, the course fitted well with my interests and previous experience, and - as I am a mature student - it was close enough to home.

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?

I have worked in the cultural and creative industries for most of my career, but did not feel that I had a full understanding of the wider context within which my work sits. Through studying on the course I’ve been able to apply my previous experience and add richer layers of understanding to my existing interests.

What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?  

The extended Research Project gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in an area of study – I learnt some woodwork skills, dipped a toe in the waters of ethnographic research, spent some dark hours wading through phenomenological theory, and emerged with a piece of work of which I was genuinely proud.

What has been the most surprising thing about coming to Leeds?

I’ve lived near Leeds for most of my life, but studying at the University has opened up hitherto unexplored aspects of the city for me; I’ve been able to view familiar institutions and events through a new lens of understanding. 

What would you say about the learning facilities in your School and at the University in general?

The most useful learning facility at the University has to be the library. Every time I’ve thought ‘there isn’t a chance they’ll have this book’ I manage to find it. Also, as I often work remotely being able to access such a wide range of journals and e-books online has made a massive difference to the quality of my essays. Outside of my course, I have spent most of my time on campus using the fantastic facilities at the Edge – the University’s sports centre.

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?

Go for it – it offers a very good theoretical grounding in the cultural and creative industries, and then allows you to build on that in a number of directions. The staff are very supportive in developing your individual interest areas, even if these are new interests that only emerge as the course progresses.

What do you plan to do now you’ve finished your course, and how do you think the skills and knowledge you’ve developed at Leeds will help with these plans?

Completing my Masters has given me a huge confidence boost, and given me insight that I can apply in my arts freelance work. I’m also currently investigating the possibility of taking my studies further.