Opening access to culture and heritage

Girl looking at paintings on display at the Attenborough Arts CentreThe University's Attenborough Arts Centre (formerly Embrace Arts) is a major venue within the city for music and performance art with a particular emphasis on events for children with special needs. A new wing for exhibitions of visual and conceptual art was formally opened by Sir David Attenborough in 2016.Each year Attenborough Arts hosts part of the Leicester Comedy Festival.

Leicester is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the UK, hence access to culture and heritage is a priority for many within our local communities. Through our Departments of Museum Studies, Archaeology and English, we have already worked closely with our local communities. Our exemplar work around the discovery, identification and reinterment of Richard III and our ongoing work within the Leicester Heritage Partnership demonstrate our skill and expertise within the heritage arena.

We are developing a new unit for Diversity Inclusion and Community Engagement (DICE) which will help us engage more strategically around this issue at a local and national level. We want to bring our expertise in culture and heritage to the assistance of local communities to support and explore a wide range of cultural and heritage subjects.

Literary Leicester, our annual festival of the written word, attracts big-name authors to the University including Will Self, Louis de Bernieres, Amitav Ghosh, Michael Frayn, Roger McGough and Carol Ann Duffy. The Saturday of the festival concentrates on children's literature with guests including Jaqueline Wilson, Julia Donaldson and Kes Gray.

The David Wilson Library holds a number of high profile collections that form an important part of the written heritage of the city and region, including the Joe Orton Collection, Sue Townsend Archive, Leicester Mercury Archive and University of Leicester Archive. We actively seek to engage the local community with these resources through funded projects, exhibitions and events. We also have a large and growing body of digitised heritage resources available on our Special Collections Online website which receives nearly two million views each year. This includes rare books and archive material relating to the history of Leicester, Leicestershire and the UK more broadly (for example, our collection of digitised Historical Trade Directories). The University also hosts the East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA), which has an extremely active programme of community engagement