Skip to main content
English Larkin

Centre for Applied Research in the Arts

We host research projects that deal with the application of arts research methods and the creation of research-driven, arts-practice outputs.

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


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).


creative music technology
Rei Gyaamie, a local band made up of University of Hull students, perform on the BBC Introducing stage at Humber Street Sesh 2019

Flight of the monarchs
  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The Flight of the Monarchs

    The Flight of the Monarchs project is led by Dr Rob Mackay. The project has 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.


    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, collaborator), Caroline White (Health and Social Work) and Dr Helen Gibson (Health and Social Work). The initial stages of the research are funded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

  • Chinese Whispers™

    The Chinese Whispers™ Project embraces culture and creativity. Its intercultural agenda focusses on developing awareness, competence and citizenship in local members of the community (children and adults) and facilitating respectful interaction between people from different cultural backgrounds. Its creative agenda promotes the learning of language and culture through creative practice, such as through choir singing.

    The Chinese Whispers™ Project celebrates its activities in annual public concerts that are hosted by the Confucius Institute at the University of Hull. The concert involves students and staff from the School of the Arts in the University as well as children and adults who have participated in the Chinese Whispers™ Project.

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

    1. Educational: To engage native English speakers in learning Mandarin Chinese through song. A “singing curriculum” will be produced to facilitate the learning of language through song for primary and secondary school children as well as adult community members.

    2. Psychological: To investigate cultural, emotional and experiential aspects of learning Chinese in the context of music-making, especially choir singing. The results of a survey will be published about people’s emotional and experiential perspectives on learning a foreign language through singing. The results of a comparative study will be published to explain whether or not learning a language through singing significantly improves the scores of school children in language tests.

    3. Creative: To explore issues of translation and cultural fusion through music composition.

    Find out more about the Chinese Whispers™ project

  • Group members

    Dr Christian Billing

    Director of Research (School of the Arts) |

    Professor Pavel Drabek

    Professor of Drama and Theatre Practice |

    Dr Cat Fergusson-Baugh

    Lecturer / Director of Drama |

    Mr Jason Hayhurst

    Lecturer in Digital Media and Subject Lead for Screen |

    Dr Andrew King

    Reader in Music and Technology / Head of School |

    Dr Elaine King

    Reader |

    Dr Helen Prior

    Lecturer in Music |

    Dr Amy Skinner

    Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre Practice |



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

Our research impacts the world.

And you can be part of it.

Join our vibrant research community and help find solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the world today.