Community engagement

Arts, culture and heritage

Arts, culture and heritage are integral to life at the University of Leicester. Our commitment to arts, culture and heritage spans across our research, education, student experience, public and community programmes.

The University of Leicester champions the value of arts, culture and heritage to society. We believe that culture is a human right and advocate for the varied artistic, educational, social and economic impacts arts, culture and heritage can have in all our lives.

The University is home to a range of world-leading arts, culture and heritage focussed research and education programmes, and we have dedicated arts, culture and heritage student experience and public programmes which collectively engage over 250,000 people per year.

Research and education

College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities

The College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities is comprised of nine schools, two research institutes and nine research centres across the breadth of arts, humanities and social sciences and interdisciplinary subjects.

We are ambitious, innovative, future-facing, and interdisciplinary; guided in everything we do by our desire to nurture a stimulating, creative, and collegial working and learning environment.

We embrace diversity and challenge ourselves to achieve excellence in research and teaching that shapes policy and changes minds through our interpretation of the past and present. 

Heritage Hub

The University of Leicester’s Heritage Hub works creatively with communities in Leicester, Leicestershire, Rutland and beyond to research and promote all aspects of heritage, seeking create a powerful network of changemakers to improve lives today and for future generations. 

Institute for Digital Culture

The Institute for Digital Culture has a commitment to a values-driven approach to supporting, and working with the cultural sector as it adapts to a digital world. 

Public programmes

Attenborough Arts Centre

Attenborough Arts Centre is a public centre for contemporary art at the heart of the University of Leicester campus with a mission to make contemporary art accessible for all. Welcoming 100,000 visitors per year, Attenborough Arts Centre produces a range of art exhibitions and performances including music, theatre, dance, spoken word and comedy. Attenborough Arts Centre integrates culture with Higher Education, engaging our University communities of staff, students and public in a range of research, teaching, student experience and community programmes which demonstrate the power of creativity and creative thinking in education.

University of Leicester Botanic Garden and Attenborough Arboretum

The University of Leicester Botanic Garden is open to the public year-round, comprising sixteen acres of lovingly-cultivated grounds and greenhouses, displaying a wide variety of features and environments and a wide-ranging collection of plants from around the world. Our five-acre Arboretum displays our native trees in the sequence in which they arrived in this country after the last ice age. Our College of Life Sciences work closely with the Estates teams at the Botanic Garden and Arboretum to develop global biodiversity and use our collections for the latest scientific research. We have a range of public programmes including a range of summer events, and schools programmes throughout the year which engage school children in experiencing and learning about our natural world.

Literary Leicester

Literary Leicester is the University’s annual free literary festival, open to all, produced by the School of Arts and the Centre for New Writing.

University of Leicester art collection

The University of Leicester art collection enhances the University campus and our environment for the benefit of all our students, staff and public communities. Through our art collection, we aim to reflect the mission, ethos and community of the University, reflecting both its history and the contemporary era. We also want to represent the place and identity of Leicester through the works held in the collection.

The University of Leicester art collection features over 200 works which have been acquired since the University was founded. The collection includes an eclectic range of modern and contemporary artworks including paintings, drawings, photographs and indoor and outdoor sculptures. Artists represented within the collection include many famous names such as Picasso, Henry Moore, Joan Miro, Eduardo Paolozzi, Elisabeth Frink, Helaine Blumenfeld, Sandra Blow, Daphne Todd, Kathryn Kynoch, Terry Frost and Patrick Heron. There are several works by Leicester artists including Loz Atkinson, Vishal Joshi and Sarah Kirby. There are several portraits of chancellors by prolific portraitist Bryan Organ.

The collection is displayed in almost every building across the University estate. There are notable outdoor works on Centenary Square, on Fielding Johnson Building Lawn and at the Botanic Garden. There are also significant sculptures in the David Wilson Library and the Henry Wellcome Building. 

Governance of the collection is overseen by the University of Leicester Art Collection Committee, with members drawn from across the institution. The collection is managed by Attenborough Arts Centre, which organises regular public and learning programmes to increase awareness of and access to the collection. Together we are working to acquire a range of new works by contemporary artists; diversify the collection to increase the representation of artists who historically have been underrepresented in the collection – in particular disabled, ethnically diverse, LGBTQ and women artists; and to increase the number of opportunities for the public and students to engage with the collection.


Civic Universities Agreement: Arts, culture and heritage

The Civic Universities Agreement is a commitment between the University of Leicester, De Montfort University, Loughborough University, and the city and counties of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland to work together for the benefit of local people and the prosperity of our places.

The arts, culture and heritage strand of the Civic Universities Agreement develops and establish effective, sustainable and scalable cultural partnerships that enable our partners to effectively contribute to the cultural life of our locality, driven and informed by the needs of our community and responding to strategic priorities. Together we deliver bold and distinctive programmes of inclusive arts, culture and heritage programmes and events, seeking to enhance and raise the profile of our region as a diverse and inclusive arts, cultural and heritage destination.

The City Classroom: Leicester’s Local Cultural Education Partnership (LCEP)

The City Classroom is one of the UK’s Local Cultural Education Partnerships, working to promote culture and creativity in education. First established in 2017, the partnership has seen Leicester cultural organisations Attenborough Arts Centre, Charnwood Arts, Curve Theatre, Leicester Print Workshop, Soft Touch Arts and the Spark Arts for Children collaborate with schools on a range of creative and cultural experiences. In March 2023 the University of Leicester and De Montfort University joined The City Classroom with the former leading on the next phase of the initiative which will expand the number of schools involved and promote youth voice in the partnership’s future direction.

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