Emma McDowell

Emma McDowell


I am an arts professional and researcher with broad experience in arts marketing, audience development, management, fundraising and audience research. In addition to my freelance work in various roles with performing arts companies and venues (most recently Joss Arnott Dance, HOME Manchester, Suitcase & Spectacles Theatre, Townsend Productions, Andrea Heaton and Manchester Collective), I have also worked for almost 10 years in a range of professional theatre roles. These included Associate Producer, Programmer and Marketing Manager at Harrogate Theatres (which included programming the Studio Theatre, Harrogate Comedy Festival, 2’s Company and Nothing to See Here), Marketing Manager at Square Chapel Arts Centre (Halifax) and Research Executive (Performing Arts) at Morris Hargreaves McIntyre (Manchester). I am also on the board of directors for Leeds based theatre company Red Ladder Theatre. 

I have a BA in Drama & French Studies from the University of Birmingham and an MA Arts Administration and Cultural Policy from Goldsmiths College, London. I am currently working towards a PhD in arts marketing and audience engagement at the School of Performance & Cultural Industries, funded by the White Rose College of Arts & Humanities (Doctoral Studentship) and supervised by Dr Ben Walmsley and Dr Anna Fenemore. Alongside my PhD and freelance theatre work, I have also had the opportunity to work as research assistant on academic research projects such as The Donut Project (in partnership with the School of English & Geography), Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy (in partnership with PCI), The International Network of Audience Research in the Performing Arts and the evaluation of the National Theatre Theatre Nation’ programme. 

Research interests

For my PhD research I hope to apply my practical experience working in arts venues in arts marketing and management to explore the dominant arts marketing model and rhetoric currently in use in the UK theatre sector, by analysing the artist-audience-venue dynamic and engagement within the total art making process of contemporary live theatre. This will include investigating motivations, values and expectations, along with the intentions of audiences, arts marketing practitioners and artists to understand how we currently articulate and communicate the value and meaning(s) of live theatre experiences and work. 


  • BA (Drama & French Studies) University of Birmingham
  • MA (Arts Administration & Cultural Policy) Goldsmiths College, University of London

Research groups and institutes

  • Audience, Engagement & Experience