Professor Ben Walmsley
- Position: Professor of Cultural Engagement
- Areas of expertise: cultural value; audience research; audience engagement; arts marketing; arts management; cultural policy
- Email: B.Walmsley@leeds.ac.uk
- Phone: +44(0)113 343 8722
- Location: G.07 PCI
- Website: Twitter | LinkedIn | ORCID | White Rose
I am currently the Director of the Centre for Cultural Value – a national research centre funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Arts Council England and Paul Hamlyn Foundation and based at the University of Leeds. In this role, I am currently the Principal Investigator on an AHRC-funded grant investigating the impacts of Covid-19 on the UK’s cultural industries and on an ESRC project aimed at improving the collection, collation and analysis of cultural sector data. Since 2017 I have led the AHRC-funded International Network for Audience Research in the Performing Arts (iNARPA) and in 2014–15 I was the Principal 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. 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.
I joined the University of Leeds in 2012 and in my wider School and University roles, I research and lecture in areas related to cultural value, 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. From 2018–2021 I was Director of Research and Innovation in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries and from 2015–2018 I was the School’s Director of Postgraduate Research Studies, where I also served on the University’s PGR Exams Committee. In 2014, I was awarded a University Student Education Fellowship to explore the experience of international taught postgraduate students. Prior to this, I worked as Operations Manager and then Producer at the National Theatre of Scotland, before moving to Leeds Metropolitan (Beckett) University as a Senior Lecturer in Arts and Entertainment Management in 2008.
From 2017–2021 I was 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 edited the acclaimed book Key Issues in the Arts & Entertainment Industry (Goodfellow, 2011) 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.
Beyond the University of Leeds, I am an Expert Advisor to the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a Visiting Professor at NUI Galway and at Kedge Business School in France, an Academic Advisor for CultureCase, Chair of Flux, Rotherham’s Creative People and Places programme, 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. Since 2014 I have been the Academic Director of the Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy programme, which is now one of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations. From 2014–2020 I directed the highly acclaimed National Summer School for Arts Fundraising and Leadership and the corresponding PG Cert in Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy. In this role I 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 the research programme for LEEDS 2023.
- Director, Centre for Cultural Value
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="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>
- BA (Hons) in French and German
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
- Yun Cheng, Blair
- Emma McDowell
- Anahi Ravagnani
- Ms Sarah Reynolds
- Agnieszka Wlazel
- Lizzie Ridley (Forbes-Ritte)
- Vanessa Arias Bujía
- Ava Podgorski