Dr Ben Walmsley
Associate Professor in Audience Engagement; Postgraduate Research Tutor
0113 343 8722
PCI Building, Room G.09
Office hours: Tuesdays 4-5pm
BA (Hons) French & German; MBA; PhD
With a professional background in theatre management and producing, I now lecture and research in audience engagement, arts management, arts marketing and cultural policy, with a particular focus on qualitative audience research, change management in the arts, and cultural value and leadership. In 2014, I was awarded a University Student Education Fellowship to explore the experience of international taught postgraduate students, and recently acted as the Principle Investigator on an NESTA/AHRC/Arts Council England funded project to develop a responsive online platform to broaden and deepen audience engagement with contemporary dance. Between 2013-2016 I directed the National Summer School for Arts Fundraising and Leadership and the corresponding PG Cert in Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy and also acted as the lead evaluator for the wider Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy (AFP) programme. I am currently writing a research monograph on audience engagement for Palgrave Macmillan.
I lecture and research in areas related to arts management, arts marketing, audience engagement and cultural policy, with a particular focus on qualitative audience research, change management in the arts, and cultural value and leadership. Prior to this, I worked as an Administration Manager and then Producer at the National Theatre of Scotland, before moving to Leeds Metropolitan University as a Senior Lecturer in Arts and Entertainment Management in 2008.
I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, act as an Artistic Assessor for Arts Council England, an Academic Advisor for CultureCase and a trustee (Vice-Chair) for Transform theatre festival in Leeds. I have published widely on cultural value, arts marketing, arts & entertainment management and cultural policy, and in 2011 edited a book entitled Key Issues in the Arts & Entertainment Industry (Goodfellow).
In 2013-14 I worked as Co-Investigator on an AHRC funded project to explore cultural value as a complex system through a case study of the LoveArts Festival in Leeds. In 2014, I was awarded a University Student Education Fellowship to explore the experience of international taught postgraduate students, and recently acted as the Principle Investigator on an NESTA/AHRC/Arts Council England funded project Respond – a collaborative project with Yorkshire Dance and Breakfast Creatives to develop, test and evaluate the impact of a responsive online platform designed to broaden and deepen audience engagement with contemporary dance. Between 2013-2016 I directed the National Summer School for Arts Fundraising and Leadership and the corresponding PG Cert in Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy and also acted as the lead evaluator for the wider Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy (AFP) programme. I am currently writing a research monograph on audience engagement for Palgrave Macmillan’s new book series, New Directions in Cultural Policy Research.
My research is broadly located within the fields of arts marketing, management and policy. I am particularly interested in the experience of theatre audiences and the impact that theatre-going has on their lives. Other current research interests include cultural leadership (especially charismatic and servant leadership in the arts); organizational behaviour and change management in the arts; and the policy implications of the Northern Powerhouse.
I have published primarily on the audience experience (motivations for and impact of theatre-going) and am fascinated by the roles of flow, ritual and catharsis in the theatre experience. I am currently writing a monograph on audience engagement in the performing arts for Palgrave Macmillan.
BA: Arts Marketing; Strategic Arts Management; Contemporary Issues in the Arts and Culture.
MA: Arts Management & Cultural Leadership; Audience Engagement and Impact; Enterprise and Consultancy Practice; Research Project tutor and supervisor.
Postgraduate Research Tutor
(2014) Entertainment Management: Towards best practice. Wallingford: CABI International.
(2011) Key Issues in the Arts and Entertainment Industry. Oxford: Goodfellow Pub Limited.
(2016) “From arts marketing to audience enrichment: how digital engagement can deepen and democratize artistic exchange with audiences”, Poetics. 58: 66-78.
DOI: 10.1016/j.poetic.2016.07.001, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/103114/
(2016) “Book reviews editorial”, Cultural Trends. 25.2: 132-134.
(2016) “The Romanticization of Charismatic Leadership in the Arts”, Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society. 46.1: 2-12.
DOI: 10.1080/10632921.2015.1131218, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/92691/
(2016) “Deep hanging out in the arts: an anthropological approach to capturing cultural value.”, International Journal of Cultural Policy.
DOI: 10.1080/10286632.2016.1153081, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/95568/
(2013) “Whose value is it anyway? A neo-institutionalist approach to articulating and evaluating artistic value”, Journal of Arts and Communities. 4.3: 199-215.
DOI: 10.1386/jaac.4.3.199_1, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/79371/
(2013) “'A big part of my life': a qualitative study of the impact of theatre”, Arts Marketing: An International Journal. 3.1: 73-87.
DOI: 10.1108/20442081311327174, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/79369/
(2013) “A reflective perspective on the challenges facing research-led teaching in the performing and creative arts”, Arts and Humanities in Higher Education: an international journal of theory, research and practice. 12.2-3: 222-233.
DOI: 10.1177/1474022212473944, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/79375/
(2012) “Towards a balanced scorecard: A critical analysis of the Culture and Sport Evidence (CASE) programme”, Cultural Trends. 21.4: 325-334.
DOI: 10.1080/09548963.2012.726800, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/79373/
(2012) “Re-defining rural marketing: Insights from touring theatre”, International Journal of Rural Management. 8.1-2: 49-62.
DOI: 10.1177/0973005212461992, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/79372/
(2011) “Why people go to the theatre: a qualitative study of audience motivation”, Journal of Customer Behaviour. 10.4: 335-351.
Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/79376/
(2009) “Educational Resource Review”, The Journal of Hospitality Leisure Sport and Tourism. 8.1: 129-136.
(2009) “A reflective perspective on the challenges of developing teaching materials in a new academic discipline”, Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Education. 8.1: 129-132.
(2002) “The problem of appellation: Ionescan theatre and the Absurdist genre.”, Glasgow Innovations in French Studies. 2: 57-68.
(2014) “Understanding audiences and marketing theatre”, In: O'Reilly, D; Rentschler, R; Kirchner T (eds.) Routledge Companion to Arts Marketing. Routledge.
(2011) “The audience experience: changing roles and relationships”, In: Walmsley B (eds.) Key Issues in the Arts and Entertainment Industry. Oxford: Goodfellow.
Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/79377/
“Marketing entertainment”, In: Entertainment Management: Towards best practice. CABI International.
“Considering the relationship between digitally mediated audience engagement and the dance-making process”, In: Whatley S; Kostic Cisneros R; Sabiescu A (eds.) Digital Echoes: Spaces for Intangible and Performance-based Cultural Heritage. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars. (Submitted)
(2015) Respond: A critical analysis of an online platform designed to deepen and broaden audience engagement with contemporary dance. 13th International Conference on Arts and Cultural Management (AIMAC)
(2014) Experiencing the arts together: a phenomenological perspective on living cultural value. VIII International Conference on Cultural Policy Research (ICCPR)
(2013) The romanticization of charismatic leadership in the arts. 12th International Conference on Arts and Cultural Management (AIMAC)
(2013) Rethinking the regional theatre: Organizational change at West Yorkshire Playhouse. 12th International Conference on Arts and Cultural Management (AIMAC)
(2012) How to fund change: The challenges and opportunities for cultural policy in supporting organizational change. VII International Conference on Cultural Policy Research, Barcelona Proceedings: ICCPR
(2011) A big part of my life: a qualitative study of audience motivation. 11th International Conference on Arts and Cultural Management (AIMAC), Antwerp
(2010) Why people go to the theatre: A qualitative study of audience motivation. Global Events Congress IV: Festivals & Events Research – State of the Art, Leeds
(2009) Shared stories and communal meaning: the impact of National Theatre of Scotland’s Black Watch. International Conference on the Arts in Society, Venice
(2009) National Theatre of Scotland and its sense of place. Academy of Marketing Conference, Leeds
(2016) The implications of England’s Northern Powerhouse for cultural democracy and regional cultural policymaking. International Conference on Cultural Policy Research (ICCPR)
Research Projects & Grants
I recently led a University of Leeds team which managed the accreditation, quality assurance and evaluation of a national £2m Transforming Arts Fundraising grant, provided by the Arts Council England to help professionalize arts sector fundraising. This involved leading the evaluation team and directing the National Summer School in Arts Fundraising and Leadership and the associated PG Cert in Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy.
From 2014-2015 I worked alongside Yorkshire Dance and Breakfast Creatives as the Principle Investigator on a NESTA/AHRC/Arts Council England funded project to develop a responsive online platform to broaden and deepen audience engagement with contemporary dance.
From October 2013 to April 2014, I was engaged as a Co-Investigator on an AHRC grant to explore cultural value as a complex system through a case study of the LoveArts Festival in Leeds.
From 2012-2013, I evaluated a £1.4m ACE/National Lottery funded action research project at West Yorkshire Playhouse. The project was designed to explore the development of a new business model which would be more open and outward looking, involving deeper collaboration with artists, audiences and the wider community.
Research Centres & Groups
Audience Experience and Engagement
I am currently acting as External Examiner for Goldsmiths’ MA Arts Administration & Cultural Policy; LASALLE College of the Arts’ (Singapore) MA Arts & Cultural Management and BA Arts Management; Lancaster University’s MA Contemporary Arts Consultancy and MA Arts Management.
From 2011-2016 I was External Examiner for Queen Margaret University’s MA Arts, Festival & Cultural Management and PG Cert Drama and Theatre for Teaching and Learning.
Artistic Assessor for Arts Council England – Drama
Visiting Professor at Kedge Business School (Bordeaux)
Consultant for West Yorkshire Playhouse.
PhD & Postdoctoral Supervision
I am currently the Director of Studies for three PhDs in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries. One PhD is investigating the marketing of Chinese performance in the UK; another is exploring the social impact of regional theatres in the UK and Australia; and the third is exploring the potential of wearable technologies for audience development. I am also co-supervising a PhD on the performance of musical events in religious and spiritual venues, and another exploring outreach and participation in the arts.
I have successfully supervised a PhD in experiential marketing to completion (December 2013). I have acted as external examiner three times in the past two years: once at the University of Warwick for a PhD on the audience experience of working class theatre-goers; once at Queens University Belfast for a PhD on the history of audience development in Arts Council England; and once at the University of Sheffield for a PhD exploring amateur theatre in England. I have also acted as internal examiner at Leeds for a successful PhD viva tracing the development of cultural policy in Taiwan over the past two decades and have conducted four transfer vivas, including one on a practice-based PhD and one for an EdD.
My PhD thesis undertook a comparative review of post-war French theatre and thought, comparing the plays of Eugène Ionesco and Jean-Paul Sartre. It argued that both the Absurdist and Existentialist schools were grounded in a modernist concept of Humanism; and yet while both explored and embodied the anguish and futility of the human condition, Ionesco’s Absurdist theatre was ultimately the more authentic, eschewing the escapist ‘mauvaise foi’ of political engagement advocated by Sartre.
Having worked as a theatre manager and producer in Scotland for nearly five years, I regularly undertake contract research and consultancy work for organisations such as Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Playhouse. I am also an Artistic Assessor for Arts Council England and an Associate Arts Consultant for the London-based organisational development consultancy People Make It Work