English Larkin

Centre for Applied Research in the Arts

We host projects that involve research about or with the arts that have a direct “real-world” application.

English Larkin

The Centre for Applied Research in the Arts (CARA) is based in the School of the Arts at the University of Hull.

It features researchers in Drama, Music and Screen often working in collaboration with colleagues across the University and beyond. CARA recognises the growing number of projects in the School that involve research about or with the arts that have a direct “real-world” application. For example, projects may involve arts-based practice in education, health or community settings, or engage with issues, such as the environment.

There is a strong emphasis in CARA on pursuing research that has impact, that is, which has an effect on, change or benefit beyond academia, such as to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, or quality of life. University colleagues in CARA are keen to collaborate with external practitioners and organisations, exchange knowledge with partners and build projects with impact.

CARA Steering Group

Jason Hayhurst, screen

Dr Elaine King, music

Dr Helen Prior, music

Dr Amy Skinner, drama

Email CARA@hull.ac.uk

The Challenge

The Centre for Applied Research in the Arts (CARA) has been set up in response to a recent shift in the School towards productive collaboration with Faculties and research Institutes. The Centre accordingly makes explicit use of project-based collaborations with the Energy and Environment Institute and the Institute for Clinical and Applied Health Research. It also exploits the School’s already-established links to other academic units – such as the School of Education, the Faculty of Science and Engineering and the Faculty of Health Sciences.

The Approach

The centre currently has principal foci in:

Ecological & Environmental Arts (including arts research methods and outputs that relate to issues such as: global warming and climate change; plastics or other petrochemical pollution; patterns of natural (i.e. non-human) migration and the sustainability of flora, fauna and particular global or local environments);

Arts, Health and Wellbeing (including the intersections between arts research and creative outputs that have potential applied impact in relation to physical and mental health; levels of fitness and emotional wellbeing; social cohesion; work/life balance; the Arts and mental, physical or intellectual resilience and/or mental and emotional transcendence);

Arts and Education (including projects that have a direct bearing on the ways in which current communities and cultures teach or learn; the development of alternative pedagogies, or modes of engagement with education. These include enhanced uses of digital and distance learning and teaching; the uses of forest schools and environmental education; performance and/as pedagogy in school and university curricula; music in education; and theatre and drama in education).

Collaborating on research projects

The Centre of Applied Research in the Arts (CARA) at the University of Hull is keen to collaborate with partners from outside of Higher Education through knowledge exchange and research. Partners can include businesses, statutory bodies, charities, community groups and independent arts companies. The purpose of these partnerships is to exchange ideas and, where appropriate, to establish and carry out research projects that have real-world benefits, expanding knowledge and increasing understanding of the pressing issues facing both the arts industry and the wider world.

The information below is designed to give partners from outside the University some insight into the logistics of setting up research projects. It should guide you through the process of establishing and funding a research project, answering some frequently asked questions.

  • More information

    What is research?

    The University seeks to produce internationally excellent and world leading research. According to the UK’s Research Excellence Framework (REF), research is ‘a process of investigation leading to new insights, effectively shared’.  In CARA, our research aims to explore the ways that the arts can have significant real-world impact.

    What do research partnerships look like?

    Research partnerships take different forms depending on the kind of work being carried out. Some projects are established by the University but require input from practitioners and professionals, for example, as members of an advisory board or committee of stakeholders. Other projects include direct contributions from partners as co-researchers, creative practitioners or industry partners. Some projects are generated by partners in collaboration with researchers (usually called co-created research).

    How are research partnerships funded?

    Researchers make applications to one or more funding bodies in order to finance a research project. These can include large, high-profile funders (for example, those associated with the organisation UK Research and Innovation2) and/or smaller, independent funders, some of which are only available locally or regionally. All funders have their own application procedures that must be followed.

    The University has a Research and Innovation Funding Office (RIFO) that provides support to researchers who are preparing funding bids. There is an internal University process for the development and review of funding bids before they can be submitted. Some bids are announced with very short turnaround times, leading researchers to approach partners with requests for information at short notice. Please be prepared for this possibility.

    Competition for funding is high, and bids are frequently rejected. As a result, researchers may need to apply to a number of funders before securing funding. Securing funding for a project can take a long time, and researchers will endeavour to keep you updated with the progress of funding applications.

    CARA is committed to fair remuneration for artists. We do not ask artists to create work for our projects for free. If you are invited to create work in collaboration with a CARA research project, we will ensure that a fee for your work is included in the funding bid to support the research.

    What now?

    If you have any questions or are interested in collaborating with researchers at the University on a project as part of CARA, please email the CARA Steering Group at CARA@hull.ac.uk. We look forward to working with you!

Current projects

creative music technology
Music Duality Studio
Music Piano Keyboard with Hands
Confucius Institute
  • Connect Resound

    Connect Resound is an action research project that was initially funded by a 110k grant from the Nesta Digital Research and Design Fund. The scheme of work was a collaboration between The University of Hull (Research), North Yorkshire Music Action Zone (charitable), and UCan Play (technology) to investigate how digital technology can enhance access to expertise and widen participation in music education. The project team, led by Principal Investigator Dr Andrew King, focussed upon the technological framework and the teaching behaviours as part of the evaluation. A Remote Music Network was then established between national music hubs in England supported by a 60k grant from Arts Council England. The project was further enhanced by a 273k grant in 2017 from Paul Hamlyn to roll-out the project nationally.

  • Music Connections

    Music Connections is funded by the Ferens Education Trust. The project aims to use the specialisms of Music staff at the University to support classroom teaching, and promote student interest in university study. The project is generating specially curated video content which can be shared via Microsoft Teams. The project is led by Dr Peter Elsdon (Music) with graduate administrator Lewis Chadwick.

  • Transitions in Music Education

    Transitions in Music Education is a project working in partnership with Hull City Council, Hull Music Service, and East Riding Music Service. It aims to explore the perspectives of pupils, parents, and music teachers on musical engagement, particularly regarding learning an instrument. The project aims to focus on two key transitional points in the UK education system: the move to secondary school (Year 6 to Year 7) and the move to GCSE Level (typically Year 9 to Year 10). According to reports from the Hull and East Riding Music Services, there are significant declines in pupil continuation of instrumental lessons and involvement in musical activities across these transition points. The research team is led by Dr Mark Slater, and includes Dr Elaine King, Dr Helen Prior, Professor Andrew King, and Ellie Dabell (PhD student).

  • Risky Cities: Living with Water in an Uncertain Future Climate

    The Risky Cities project will use innovative arts and humanities approaches to build climate awareness and help communities become more flood resilient, today and for the future. Funded as part of the AHRC UK Climate Resilience Programme, the project will develop learning histories for one flood-prone city (Hull, UK) and use them in community-based arts and heritage interventions as well as large-scale cultural productions developed in collaboration with project partners, Absolutely Cultured and the National Youth Theatre. An inter-disciplinary collaboration between History, Geography and Environment, Drama, English and Education Studies, the project seeks to understand how Hull communities have experienced, responded to and learned to live with water over the last 800 years. It explores the fictions of flooding – as recorded in poetry, prose, drama and newspapers – that have arisen alongside, and in response to, the experience of living with water in Hull. Finally, the project team will explore the opportunities for using meaningful, place-based stories about the past, as a means of working with present day communities to build climate change awareness and flood resilience. We will evaluate the effectiveness of our arts and heritage community interventions and will seek to establish best practice guidelines to be used in future projects in other risky cities. Dr Amy Skinner of the Drama department at the university is a co-investigator for this project.


    This research project explores STROKESTRA™, a music rehabilitation programme for stroke patients and carers. The STROKESTRA programme is managed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) and facilitated by professional RPO musicians with clinicians from the Hull and East Riding Community Stroke Services (HERCSS).

    The research aims to identify how STROKESTRA is implemented, experienced and facilitated as well as to evaluate its impact on the wellbeing and post-stroke recovery of patients and carers. The research team is led by Dr Elaine King (Music) and involves Dr Helen Prior (Music), Caroline White (Health and Social Work), Rosie Dunn (Health and Social Work) and Dr Graziana Presicce (Music). The research is funded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and a 50th Anniversary Research and Development Award from SEMPRE (the Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research).

    Preliminary findings about the project were reported in a presentation at the SEMPRE 50th Anniversary Conference (London, September 2022). A podcast of the presentation is also available here.

    For more information about the research project, please contact the Principal Investigator, Dr Elaine King.

  • Chinese Whispers™

    The Chinese Whispers Project has a cultural and creative agenda: it facilitates respectful interaction between people from different generations and cultural backgrounds; and it promotes the learning of Mandarin language and culture in community members (both children and adults) through creative practice, specifically group singing.

    A team of researchers is currently pursuing three strands of enquiry about the Project:

    1. Educational (to design and deliver a “singing curriculum” for learning Mandarin through song)
    2. Psychological (to investigate experiential aspects of language learning in the context of choir singing)
    3. Creative (to explore issues of translation and cultural fusion through music composition)
  • Music Footprint

    Music Footprint is a research project exploring the environmental footprint of musical activities. We have been working with members of Hull’s Energy and Environment Institute to explore the carbon footprint of Music’s activities within the School of the Arts, pinpointing ways of reducing our environmental impact. We hope to expand the project to regional musical groups and activities, identifying ways of pursuing music while minimising its environmental costs. The research team is co-led by Dr Helen Prior and Dr Mark Slater, and also involves Dr Matt Barnard and Dr Simon Desbruslais.

  • (Psy)CliMuse

    (Psy)CliMuse aims to explore the ways in which music might be used to help with the fight against climate change. While music is known to influence our moods, emotions, and behaviour towards others, research is only beginning to explore how these influences might be used to change environment-related behaviours. We are taking a range of approaches, from mapping theory in environmental psychology with music psychology research, to conducting empirical studies; this project aims to explore both music written with the intention of influencing climate-related attitudes and behaviours, and music with no obvious link with the environment, to see when and how music can help us to make better environment-related decisions. The research team is led by Dr Helen Prior and involves Dr Matt Barnard, Dr Simon Desbruslais, and Dr Mark Slater; we also work with researchers from other areas of the University.

Previous projects

  • New Music Biennial

    The New Music Biennial 2017 was supported by a 697k grant from multiple agencies such as Paul Hamlyn and Arts Council England that had two project work streams: Composer Residencies; and Minute of Listening. The project was led by the Performance Rights Society Foundation with support from Sound and Music and evaluated by a team of researchers at the University of Hull led by Dr Andrew King.

  • Flight of the Monarchs

    The Flight of the Monarchs project was led by Dr Rob Mackay. The project used new methods in eco-acoustic composition, together with public-facing art installations to create practice-as-research outputs that are a form of environmental advocacy (designed to confront audiences directly with the plight of one particular species). Mackay first recorded the threatened Monarch butterfly in the El Rosario nature reserve in Mexico; he then used sound compositions to create an installation for the Amy Johnson Festival in Hull (on the theme of flight). Other works within the project consider the environmental factors that contribute to the species’ decline – and incorporate scientific literature on the Monarch, together with evidence of eco-activism taking place. Mackay has worked alongside Mexican film maker Jessica Rodríguez and poet Rolando Rodríguez to make further installations – including a portable wooden structure housing speakers and screens, that allows viewers and auditors to experience something of the Monarch’s natural environment.

Group members



Accelerating a net zero future. Improving health outcomes. Promoting justice and fairness for all. Living with water. Enhancing heritage and creative industries.

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