A “trailblazing” agreement between Arts Council England and a higher education body hopes to get more students involved in the arts. 

Photo of Dominic Shellard and Darren Henley
Professor Dominic Shellard and Darren Henley signing the Memorandum of Understanding

Arts Council England (ACE) has signed its first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a higher education body, De Montfort University (DMU) in Leicester.

DMU Vice-Chancellor Professor Dominic Shellard and ACE Chief Executive Darren Henley signed the document setting out how they will work together to further their common interests on 12 May. Henley described the three-year agreement as “trailblazing”.

Stated objectives

DMU will work with ACE, artists and arts organisations to improve the quality and quantity of arts and culture across Leicestershire. They hope to open up more opportunities for students to get involved in the arts, improve cultural education for young people and promote graduate retention.

A key objective of the MoU is to explore the potential for learning opportunities, both for ACE staff and DMU students. The university will consider developing specifically targeted accredited modules for ACE staff, while ACE workers could visit the university as guest lecturers or on secondments.

ACE and DMU hope to develop a model of best practice, which may lead to opportunities to work with other public institutions throughout England.

Prof Shellard said: “This new partnership recognises the significant impact that art and culture bring not only to De Montfort University but to Leicester as a whole.”

ACE collaborates 

This is the second MoU signed by ACE in the past six months, the first having set out objectives for collaboration with Bristol City Council. 

The signing of this latest deal follows recent comments made by Henley to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee about the importance of universities to arts and culture. “Universities are great cultural investors and custodians and we see them as very important partners,” he said.

Speaking to the Committee, ACE Chair Sir Peter Bazalgette gave examples of universities investing in arts organisations, adding: “We think it has enormous potential and, as vice chancellors more and more define their role as place makers rather than merely scholastic, we think it is going to grow.”

Author(s): 
A photo of Frances Richens