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In front of the Great Hall, Keith Wilson’s monumental sculpture Sign for Art is a stunning addition to a campus whose public art is testament to an institution with a long tradition in the creative arts. This was nurtured by a number of key figures who shaped the University in its earliest days, and whose influence resonates to this day:

• Lord Brotherton’s rare books and manuscripts remain the heart of unique collections in the library that bears his name;
• Paintings donated by early Vice Chancellor Michael Sadler form a key part of our art collection;
• The Burton family enriched these collections which are now displayed in a gallery funded by the Stanley and Audrey Burton Charitable Trust;
• Donor Eric Gregory established groundbreaking arts fellowships which remain the template for today’s Academy of Cultural Fellows.

More than a century on from its foundation, Leeds remains distinctive among research-intensive universities for its breadth of scholarship and practice in the creative arts. And at a time when public funding for the arts is being progressively squeezed, gifts to the Making a World of Difference Campaign are continuing this proud tradition of artistic creativity which stretches back to its earliest days.

Through the support of our donors we will invest in talented people and exciting partnerships to nurture creativity and further enhance the University’s contribution to the arts. With your help, we will:

  • Support rising stars in research and practice across the arts, by awarding highly competitive Cultural Fellowships for the most talented young arts practitioners to develop at Leeds;
  • Offer PhD Scholarships to allow the most able arts and humanities graduates to progress into further research and study;
  • Strengthen our Creative Labs, establishing new initiatives with arts organisations to enable the creative industries to flourish by putting our research into practice.

Our Cultural Fellowships:

  • Provide precious time for creative practitioners to experiment and concentrate on new work;
  • Offer a rare opportunity for early-career artists to benefit from mentoring by leaders in their field;
  • Facilitate dynamic interaction between practitioners, scholars, students to inform and enrich research, teaching and creative production;
  • Contribute to an exceptional student experience by enabling undergraduates to engage with working artists, creative writers and performers.

Through this project, and with the support of our donors, we have established a vibrant programme of Fellowships across the arts, supporting talented early-career artists, composers and writers and giving them the time and freedom to create new work, engage with the wider community and inspire our students to excel in their studies.

Our PhD Scholars:

  • Are supported financially as they are stretched intellectually while studying for their doctorates – at a time when public funding for the arts has been significantly reduced;
  • Are encouraged to reach beyond their own subject areas, challenge received wisdom and gain the confidence to explore new horizons.

With your support we will enable more outstanding graduates to study for doctorates in the arts.

Our Creative Labs:

  • Are harnessing the skills and ideas of University academics and external partners to reap surprising rewards.
  • Pair researchers from across campus with arts and technology partners. Over the course of three days, they explore how they could work together to mutual advantage.

Though the project originates in the arts, the Creative Labs have attracted academics from medicine, biology and the physical sciences, each excited by the opportunity to collaborate. Diverse ideas have sprung from these collisions:

  • A video game on the ethics of drone warfare;
  • Smartphone tools for training actors;
  • A dance project to educate the public about immunology.

With your support we will enable more innovative pairings through the Creative Labs, and so unlock new ideas and possibilities.

Watch our video One Day in Leeds to learn more about the impact of the Campaign:

Making a World of Difference


PhD Scholar
Kerry Harker

Terry Ingram

Creative Lab participant
Stephanie Steels

PhD Scholar
Matthew Elliott

Layla Bloom

University of Leeds Art Curator Layla Bloom talks about the generous support – particularly from the Burton family – which has been given to the University's art collection and gallery.

Neil Munro

Although long-term donor Neil Munro (Civil Engineering 1961) claims to be "an uncultured engineer", here he talks about his support for the Doctoral College of the Arts.

Helen Mort

Helen Mort reads her poem Paths, which recounts tells of her arrival in Leeds one wintry night, as the new Cultural Fellow in Poetry.

Douglas Caster

Douglas Caster (Electronic and Electrical Engineering 1975) tells how his friendship with a Professor sparked his interest in the arts which has led to his support for Cultural Fellow Helen Mort.

Sarah Prescott

Sarah talks about how support from a donor has enabled her to work with the University's remarkable literary archives,

Liz Pointon

Donor Liz Pointon (General Studies 1968) talks about why she gives her support to the work of the Literary Archivist at the University of Leeds.

Cheryl Frances-Hoad

Filmed during rehearsals in the University's Workshop Theatre, Cheryl talks about the opportunities afforded her as Cultural Fellow in Operatic Composition.

Caroline Starkey

Caroline Starkey was one of the first PhD students to work on the Students as Scholars scheme, the forerunner to the Doctoral College of the Arts. Here she explains the benefits it brought.

Professor David Cooper

The Dean of the Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications explains the principle behind the Academy of Cultural Fellows - and why the project is so personally important to him.

How you can help

We will be delighted to discuss how your gift can support our work in creative leadership and the arts.

And because the University of Leeds is a charity, UK taxpayers can make their gifts go further. Gift Aid enables the University to reclaim the basic rate of tax on the value of the donation, while donors can reclaim the difference between the basic rate and the higher rate of tax.

Area of supportCreative Labs ProgrammeSix-month Cultural FellowshipPhD Study
You give£8,000£23,840£52,000
The University claims Gift Aid (1)£2,000£5,960£13,000
Full value of gift£10,000£29,800£65,000

If you are a Higher Rate (40%) taxpayer:

You claim tax relief (2)£2,000£5,960£13,000
Net cost to you£6,000£17,880£39,000

If you are an Additional Rate (45%) taxpayer:

You claim tax relief (3)£2,500£7,450£16,250
Net cost to you£5,500£16,390£35,750
  1. Added at the basic rate of tax.
  2. Higher rate relief is the difference between basic rate and higher rate tax.
  3. Additional rate relief is the difference between basic rate and additional rate tax.

For further information on tax-effective giving, click here

You may also choose to make your gift in instalments.

Key partnerships

The University’s Cultural Institute, founded in 2016, has three principal aims:

  • To take a greater role in the cultural life of the city, region and nation by promoting the University’s wide array of outstanding creative activities, facilities, treasures and performance and exhibition spaces;
  • To enhance the learning experience and life chances of our students by creating more opportunities for them to volunteer, secure work placements and internships – and interact with the most curious minds on the cultural landscape;
  • To work with cultural partners on interdisciplinary research which addresses some of the complex global challenges posed by social, economic, ecological and political change.
    Philanthropy is critical to achieving these goals.

DARE is the pioneering collaboration between Opera North and the University of Leeds, the first of its kind.

  • The partnership brings the very best of both organisations together to play a positive role in shaping the future of arts and learning regionally, nationally and internationally, achieving success beyond anything either party could hope to achieve alone.
  • Through this ‘third organisation’, Opera North is committed to working with academics at the highest level to create new opportunities for student learning at the heart of a leading opera company, for research relevant to the contemporary cultural sector, and for new work and new thinking that challenges perspectives and enriches intellectual and artistic life.
  • In this article, musician Samuel Hertz talks about his remarkable year as the first winner of the DARE Arts Prize.

Browse the project brochure

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