Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts & Communications

School of Performance and Cultural Industries


Dr Anna Upchurch

Lecturer in Cultural Policy

0113 343 8741

Room 1.14 stage@leeds building

Office hours: Email for appointments

PhD Cultural Policy Studies, MA Liberal Studies, BA English

A US citizen, I joined the University of Leeds in 2009 after completing a PhD in cultural policy studies at the University of Warwick. My published work to date and doctoral research investigate the intellectual history of arts policy in the United Kingdom and North America with attention to the  involvement of private philanthropy in both countries.


I am a US citizen who had a career in arts management and policy in the United States, working for a range of publicly and privately funded organisations, before earning a PhD in cultural policy studies at the University of Warwick. I joined the University of Leeds in 2009 and am programme manager for the MA Culture, Creativity and Entrepreneurship. My research interests in the history of contemporary cultural policy have been informed by my experiences during the 1990s when I was researching and writing arguments to defend arts funding in the United States. My published work to date and doctoral research investigate the intellectual history of arts policy in the United Kingdom and North America, with attention to the  involvement of private philanthropy in both countries. This work is based on extensive archival research that has revealed the private actors involved and the negotiations leading to policy legislation. I welcome enquiries about supervision of PhD projects in any of the research interests listed below.

Research Interests

  • History, historiography, and theory of cultural policy
  • History of ideas about the arts and humanities in society, including issues of ‘value’ and ‘impact’
  • Histories of women working in cultural organisations and their influence on policy


2014-15 MA Culture, Creativity and Entrepreneurship modules: Theoretical Perspectives; Cultural Policy: Models and Debates; Research Perspectives; Research Project

2014-15 BA Theatre and Performance: Enterprise Project; Managing in Arts Organisations


Programme manager: MA Culture, Creativity and Entrepreneurship

Coordinator, student and staff exchanges with Telemark University College in Bø, Norway

Cultural Industries representative: Student-Staff Forum



  • Upchurch AR (2016) The Origins of the Arts Council Movement: Philanthropy and Policy. first. New Directions in Cultural Policy Research. Palgrave Macmillan.
    DOI: 10.1057/978-1-137-46163-6, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/104039/

    This important new book offers an intellectual history of the ‘arts council’ policy model, identifying and exploring the ideas embedded in the model and actions of intellectuals, philanthropists and wealthy aesthetes in its establishment in the mid-twentieth century. The book examines the history of arts advocacy for national arts policies in the UK, Canada and the USA, offering an interdisciplinary approach that combines social and intellectual history, political philosophy and literary analysis. The book has much to offer academics, cultural policy and management students, artists, arts managers, arts advocates, cultural policymakers and anyone interested in the history and current moment of public arts funding in the West.

  • Upchurch AR; Belfiore E (eds.) (2013) Humanities in the Twenty-first century: Beyond Utility and Markets. UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

    What is the value of the arts and humanities today? This question points to a long and extensively discussed dilemma. Eleonora Belfiore and Anna Upchurch have compiled a collection of original essays that offer a novel approach to tackling this difficult question. These contributions offer examples that show that, rather than relying on the narrowly utilitarian notion of 'research impact' that has developed within current educational policies and debates, it may be more appropriate to look at the ways in which arts and humanities research is already engaged in collaborative endeavours, both within academia and beyond, in order to address the big ethical, political, technological and environmental challenges of contemporary life. The contributors are scholars from diverse backgrounds, cultural and business professionals as well as policy makers from both the UK and the US. The wealth and diversity of perspectives and experiences they bring to the consideration of the place and role of the arts and humanities in contemporary society allows for a refreshed debate that does not rely on simplistic and questionable notions of socio-economic impact as a proxy for value.

Journal articles

  • Upchurch AR (2012) “'Missing' from policy history: The Dartington Hall Arts Enquiry, 1941-1947”, International Journal of Cultural Policy. 19.5: 610-622.
    DOI: 10.1080/10286632.2012.724065, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/76540/

    Largely undocumented in the published accounts of cultural policy history in the United Kingdom, the Arts Enquiry was a privately funded survey of the arts in war-time England. It was launched in 1941 as an initiative of the Arts Department at Dartington Hall and funded by the trustees of Dartington Hall, who spent £19,000 on the study over its 6-year history. The Enquiry brought together artists, intellectuals, philanthropists, and arts professionals in specialist committees to examine the visual arts, music, drama, and documentary film. Three book-length studies were published: The Visual Arts in 1946 (183 pages), The Factual Film in 1947 (260 pages), and Music in 1949 (224 pages). This article examines the history of the Arts Enquiry, its entanglement in the cultural politics of the period, and what it reveals about policy formation in the United Kingdom, as well as the historiography of cultural policy.

  • Upchurch AR (2011) “Keynes’s Legacy: an intellectual's influence reflected in arts policy”, International Journal of Cultural Policy Bennett O (eds.). 17.1: 69-80.
    DOI: 10.1080/10286630903456851, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/76539/

    As Western governments re-examine the economic policies of John Maynard Keynes to solve a global financial crisis believed to be almost as severe as the Great Depression, this article examines his influence on arts policy. The article articulates and examines the central assumptions that underlie the arm's length policy model, such as Keynes's preference for semi-autonomous non-governmental bodies, and locates the sources of those assumptions and ideas in Keynes's social position and political philosophy. Knowing this history enables policymakers and arts administrators to recognize how contemporary policy still reflects this thinking.


  • Upchurch AR, McLaughlin J (2013) “Values and sustainability at Penland School of Crafts”, In: Upchurch AR; Belfiore E (eds.) Humanities in the Twenty-first century: Beyond Utility and Markets. UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

    This chapter explores the relationship between personal values and environmental sustainability in a case study of the Penland School of Crafts in the United States. The chapter focuses on the school as an organisation that articulates ‘core values’ that guide its educational philosophy, management, planning, decision-making, and daily operations. Using human values theory from psychology, the authors analyze the school’s core values and operations, suggesting that involvement in the school, whether as student, staff, or community member, strengthens an individual’s values of universalism and benevolence, categorized as ‘self-transcendent’ by psychology. The chapter suggests that the school provides a creative experience that is at the same time morally and ethically restorative, and thus links values, craft practices, and environmental sustainability. The authors conclude that ‘the Penland experience’, craft practice, and humanities research and study all share a capacity to reinforce the self-transcendent values associated with social justice, equality, and protecting the environment. Their chapter is an initial analysis that anticipates a long-term empirical study at the school that will explore these issues.

Conference presentations

  • Upchurch AR (2016) Craft, Penland, and US Foreign Policy (working title). International Conference on Cultural Policy Research

    This paper continues the author’s study of a craft school in a remote region of the United States, addressing a central research question: How has this non-profit, independent school survived and thrived for more than 80 years in its rural mountain location? What, if any, has been the nature of its support from government throughout its history? Located in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina in the United States, the Penland School of Crafts is renowned in the craft sector for its immersive workshops in contemporary studio crafts. Founded in 1929, the school does not grant degrees, but offers one-, two-, and eight-week intensive workshops, hosts artist residencies, operates a gallery and a visitor centre, its own archives, and community education programmes. Workshops are offered in books and paper, clay, drawing and painting, glass, metals, photography, letterpress, printmaking, textiles, wood, and other media to students at all skill levels. Its historic, forested, 420-acre campus is located in Mitchell County, which has a population of approximately 15,000 in a state with a population of nearly 10 million. Like many communities in the region, Penland is not served by public transportation and requires a journey by car to reach. On campus there are no televisions, no daily newspapers, and spotty mobile phone coverage (Upchurch and McLaughlin 2013). In this remote mountain region, Penland is a foundation of the professional craft industry which has an annual economic impact on the region of $206.5 million (Stoddard, Dave, and Evans 2008). Penland and other craft organisations in the region such as the John C. Campbell Folk School and the Southern Highland Craft Guild are non-profit organizations that operate with extremely limited, if any, government funding. Indeed this ‘craft belt’ has strong ties to the tourist industry and has developed over the past 60 years largely through the efforts of these three organisations and the makers and artists who live and work in the region, an example of artist-generated economic development in a rural region. The Penland school was founded by Lucy Morgan, who remained its director from 1929 until 1962, a weaver herself who invested all her personal funds in the school (Becker 2015; Ennis 1995; Morgan 2005). Yet recent research in the school’s archive demonstrates that Penland was involved in the implementation of US foreign policy in the 1950s and early 1960s due to Morgan’s interest in international cooperation (Morgan 2005). Archival research shows that international visitors from so-called ‘developing’ countries in East Asia and South America travelled to the school in the 1950s and early 1960s to learn craft skills and the Penland model of rural development. The school was a technical resource organisation in the United States’ first international development programme launched in 1949 by President Harry Truman, initially called the ‘Point Four’ programme (Macekura 2013). In 1962, the year that Morgan retired, Penland hosted visitors and guests from 30 countries (Mountain Milestones, 1962). This paper will historicize contemporary cultural and creative industries policy by reviewing the U.S. foreign policy focus on developing craft industries in countries that included South Korea, India, and Lebanon, among others. Bibliography Becker, Jane (2015). ‘Lucy Morgan: The Penland School of Handicrafts and the Southern Appalachian Craft Revival’ in Gillespie, Michelle, and McMillen, Sally G., North Carolina Women: Their Lives and Times. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press. Ennis, Lynn Jones (1995). Penland and the ‘Revival’ of Craft ‘Traditions’: A Study of the Making of American Identities. Unpublished PhD thesis. Union Institute. Macekura, Stephen (2013). ‘The Point Four Program and US International Development Policy’, Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 128, no. 1, pp. 127-160. Morgan, Lucy with LeGette Blythe (2005). Gift from the Hills, 3rd edition. Penland: Penland School of Crafts. Morgan, Lucy (1962). Mountain Milestones. Penland School newsletter. Stoddard, James E., Dinesh S. Davé, and Michael R. Evans (2008) The Economic Impact of the Craft Industry in Western North Carolina. Asheville, NC: UNC Asheville. Upchurch, A. and J. McLaughlin (2013) ‘Values and Sustainability at the Penland School of Crafts’ in Upchurch, A. and Belfiore, E., eds, Humanities in the Twenty-First Century: Beyond Utility and Markets. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Research Projects & Grants

“Beyond utility and markets: articulating the role of the humanities in the twenty-first century”, with Dr Eleonora Belfiore at the University of Warwick. This project was awarded in 2008 funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council under the Impact of Arts and Humanities Research Scheme. A book of essays that resulted from the project was published by Palgrave in July 2013.

Research Centres & Groups

Since February 2013, I have organised an annual seminar series ‘Cultural Policy Issues: New Research at Leeds’ that presents recent research by cultural policy scholars working in and around Leeds. Past presenters have included Prof Kate Oakley, Prof David Hesmondhalgh, and Prof Calvin Taylor. For details of the current series, please email a.upchurch@leeds.ac.uk.

External Appointments

Co-editor with Dr Eleonora Belfiore, University of Warwick, of New Directions in Cultural Policy Research, a multi-disciplinary book series published by the scholarly book division of Palgrave Macmillan. The series will launch in autumn 2015.

External examiner, 2011-2014, Arts Management and Policy programme, Birkbeck College, University of London

PhD & Postdoctoral Supervision

Shu Shiun Ku: ‘The Industrialization of Cultural Policy in Taiwan’

Eunhee Lee: ‘Social capital and collaborative governance in artist-led local regeneration: A case study in South Korea’

Fan Wu: Marketing Traditional Chinese Performance in the United Kingdom

Sarah Little: Cultural democracy and the community arts movement in the UK


PhD Thesis

‘Maynard Keynes, Vincent Massey, and the Intellectual Origins of the Arts Council of Great Britain’

My thesis examines the ideological underpinnings of the arts council as a policy model by articulating the assumptions and beliefs about the arts in society and their own social role held by the policy advisors who recommended the model in Great Britain and Canada during the mid-twentieth century. It examines the social and ideological influences on the two men credited with founding the model in their countries: J.M. Keynes as a liberal intellectual in Great Britain and Vincent Massey as a wealthy aesthete and Canadian philanthropist. The study differs from previous cultural policy histories in that it describes the policy-making methods used by cultural activitists as they engaged in meetings and negotiations prior to actual legislation. Using published and unpublished primary sources, the study identifies policy alliances in both countries and the process behind policy formation.

Professional Practice

Fellow, Higher Education Academy

Graduate, University of Leeds Teaching Award Professional Standard 2

Fellow, Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce (RSA)


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