Professor Ben Walmsley

Professor Ben Walmsley


I lecture and research in areas related to arts management, arts marketing, audience research and cultural policy, with a particular focus on audience engagement and enrichment, change management in the arts, and cultural value and leadership. Prior to this, I worked as an Administration Manager and then Producer at the National Theatre of Scotland, before moving to Leeds Metropolitan University as a Senior Lecturer in Arts and Entertainment Management in 2008.

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, an Academic Advisor for CultureCase and Vice-Chair of Transform theatre festival in Leeds. Between 2010 and 2017, I was engaged as an Artistic Assessor for Arts Council England and from 2017–2019 I was a trustee of The Audience Agency. I am the Co-Editor of the peer reviewed journal Arts and the Market and have published widely on cultural value, arts marketing, arts & entertainment management and cultural policy in a number of leading arts management and cultural policy journals. I also edited the acclaimed book Key Issues in the Arts & Entertainment Industry (Goodfellow, 2011). In 2013/14, I worked as Co-Investigator on an AHRC-funded project to explore cultural value as a complex system through a case study of the LoveArts Festival in Leeds. In 2014, I was awarded a University Student Education Fellowship to explore the experience of international taught postgraduate students, and recently acted as the Principle Investigator on a NESTA/AHRC/Arts Council England funded project Respond - a collaborative project run with Yorkshire Dance and Breakfast Creatives to develop, test and evaluate the impact of a responsive online platform designed to broaden and deepen audience engagement with contemporary dance.

Since 2014 I have directed the highly acclaimed National Summer School for Arts Fundraising and Leadership and the corresponding PG Cert in Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy and I recently led the evaluation of the national Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy Programme and developed a MOOC for arts and cultural leaders on fundraising and change management. I am currently leading the evaluation of the National Theatre's Theatre Nation Partnerships programme and in October 2019 I published a research monograph on audience engagement for Palgrave Macmillan's new book series, New Directions in Cultural Policy Research.


  • Director of Research and Innovation
  • Director, Centre for Cultural Value

Research interests

My research interests cohere around theories and practices of audience engagement and are therefore broadly located within the fields of arts marketing, management and policy. I am particularly interested in the experiences of theatre audiences and the impact that theatre-going has on their lives, as well as how arts and cultural organisations engage with audiences and co-create meaning with them. My other research interests include cultural leadership (especially charismatic and quiet leadership); arts fundraising and philanthropy; organizational behaviour and change management in the arts; and strategic arts management and evaluation. I have published primarily on the audience experience (motivations for and impact of theatre-going) and am fascinated by the roles of flow, ritual and catharsis in the theatre experience.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD
  • MBA
  • BA (Hons) in French and German

Student education

I have taught recently on a range of programmes across our BA (Hons) Theatre and Performance, MA Culture, Creativity and Entrepreneurship and PG Cert Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy.

Research groups and institutes

  • Audience, Engagement & Experience

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>