Creating a new Vision for higher education and cultural sector partnership.

The tectonic shift in our sectors since March 2020 is reshaping our priorities and resources. We understand the pressing need to re-evaluate the potential and value of higher education and cultural partnerships.

In response, Culture Forum North is ‘Creating a new Vision for higher education and cultural sector partnership’ with Arts Council England and the South East Cultural Innovation Forum and Midlands Higher Education and Cultural Forum.

Through a three-stage programme of research, discussion and evaluation, our goal is to develop a vision, a framework and recommendations for how the HE and cultural sectors can work in concert as we rebuild after the pandemic. We are beginning with a rapid research review and have appointed Dr James Doeser as programme lead for this initial stage.

We want to hear about your experience of partnership between HE and culture during the pandemic.

Over the next few weeks, James will be interviewing a selection of our members about partnership experiences since the beginning of Covid. We will use this research on the changing nature, risks and benefits of partnership to inform our future priorities. Your insights will fuel national discussion groups attended by senior leaders from HE and the arts and culture. There are modest bursaries to enable participation if resourcing is a barrier and your experiences can remain confidential (if you wish).

How to take part

Email Culture Forum North ( to express an interest in sharing your case studies – all we need at this stage is a link and/or a few sentences about what you’ve been up to.

The deadline for expressions of interest is Thursday 6 May

We’re keen not to retell the same old stories from a familiar set of organisations, which means your involvement is hugely important to us. We need insights into a diverse spectrum of experience and organisation, from all parts of England, across HE and FE institutions and artforms and scale of cultural organisation as well as freelancers.



This programme of research, consultation, discussion and visioning is a partnership between Arts Council England, Culture Forum North the South East Cultural Innovation Forum and Midlands Higher Education and Cultural Forum. It aims to: –

• Identify key areas of benefit and risk to higher/further education and cultural sector partnerships in 2021
• Understand the immediate and longer-term impacts of the pandemic
• Devise a set of strategic recommendations for the future work of partnership networks
• Understand the financial, physical and human resources needed to sustain this work

The research will consolidate what we know about the value of HEIs working collaboratively with cultural sector organisations and artists. It will bring our understanding right up to date by focussing on experiences and case studies since March 2020. The research will draw out best practice for partnership working and produce a systematic framework for developing partnerships within regional Forums.


James is a freelance researcher, writer and consultant based in London. In the early 2010s he was a senior researcher at Arts Council England. He now works with all manner of cultural organisations, artists and agencies to help them find and deploy high-quality research. He is the editor of a resource from King’s College London for the cultural sector that bridges the gap between academic research and its potential users and beneficiaries. He has led research into arts policy and the impact of culture for clients as varied as the Wellcome Trust, Canada Council for the Arts, MeWe360, and Accumulate – The Art School for the Homeless. The findings of the consultation will inform a set of roundtable discussions later this year.