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Doctoral student writing

Nottingham's ChalleNGe Partnership and Cultural Capital: how do we ensure young people become informed and inspired curators, makers, audiences and champions of culture citywide?

  • School: School of Arts and Humanities
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / Fully-funded


ChalleNGe is Nottingham’s cultural education partnership and brings together the city’s Arts Council England Portfolio Organisations, both universities, the City Council and the Young Creatives charity, supported by The Mighty Creatives and Nottingham Music Hub.  Its mission is to facilitate collaborative action to ensure that Nottingham’s diverse population of children and young people enjoy inspiring and accessible cultural experiences so that young people will become informed and inspired curators, makers, audiences, and champions of culture citywide.  

This research project will support ChalleNGe by analysing and evaluating its ambitions and objectives and the city context. It will involve the CDA student investigating the barriers to creation and participation that are currently experienced by young people and how educators, artists and arts organisations can address them.  Case studies to support the research will be selected by the student in liaison with ChalleNGe from initiatives driven by ChalleNGe partners e.g.  Young Creatives, Nottingham Playhouse, Dance 4, Community Recording Studio, Nonsuch, Lakeside, New Art Exchange, Tom Dale Dance, Nottingham Contemporary, and community-led projects like Aspley Youth Theatre.

The research will take the concept of “cultural capital” as specified in the 2019 Ofsted framework and investigate, debate, define and apply it to ensure that ChalleNGe understands the ways cultural capital is conceived and measured in the wider context; particularly how it is understood by different evaluators and stakeholders currently.  The student will have the opportunity to explore issues that complicate the concept, particularly “place-making”, to investigate how the gap between arts organisations and young people not currently accessing them may be closed.

The student will undertake qualitative interviewing, and employ a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods to collect and evaluate data, creating databases to capture activity, drawing on their previous studies and any experience in the cultural/community sector. They will contribute to the mapping of cultural provision in liaison with widening participation teams at Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham and the City Council’s Education team.  They will create and collate research that supports ChalleNGe’s cultural partners as they determine who and where “more and different” young people are in the city and complete a study that analyses the issues that arise as ChalleNGe and its partners work to create positive change for a greater number of diverse young people in Nottingham.

The successful applicant will work with the supervisory team to determine the final shape and scope of the research to be undertaken for this project but the key expectations for ChalleNGe are that the CDA will:

  • provide constructively critical assessment of creative engagement to understand the reach and impact of cultural education in Nottingham
  • use and assess qualitative and quantitative research methodologies to measure and share arts organisations’ successes in reaching “more and different” young people;
  • analyse how the ways cultural organisations develop and learn about relationships with young people may be improved;
  • build a case for the importance of cultural education within existing national debates about what constitutes “cultural capital”;
  • demonstrate the role of arts education in supporting a definition of “cultural capital” that values young people’s differing experiences, cultures, classes, tastes and heritage and affords them influence over Nottingham’s cultural offer; create digital material (e.g. podcasts, films, interviews, photo-essays) in collaboration with ChalleNGe and under its direction;
  • engage in and assess project sharing activities, such as community outreach workshops;
  • evaluate collaborative approaches and how their impact is assessed by ChalleNGe and ensure what is learned across the project is evaluated in order to be shared more widely at the project’s end

The successful applicant will join the vibrant research community in the School of Arts & Humanities at NTU where academic staff and postgraduate researchers work collaboratively with many regional, national, and international partners and join the wider M4C community of researchers in the region. They will undertake mandatory research training activities and access training that is identified as specifically useful to this project.


Barbara Matthews

Sharon Monteith

Entry qualifications

Candidates should have:

An undergraduate degree, preferably in a related subject area;

A Masters degree in a related subject area;

Or, in lieu of a Masters, relevant professional experience in a filed that relates to the area of this PhD study.

How to apply

How to apply

Applications close at 12:00pm (UK time) on Tuesday 14 January 2020.

In order to apply, you first need to have applied to study for a PhD at NTU so that you have an applicant number in order to apply for M4C funding. So first register here.

Download an application form here.
Please make sure you take a look at our application guidance notes before making your application.

Further information on how to apply can be found on this page.

The Nottingham city application workshop is Saturday 9 November with registration here.

Fees and funding

This fully-funded AHRC-M4C PhD is a collaboration between NTU, led by Barbara Matthews, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Culture) at Nottingham Trent University, supported by Professor Sharon Monteith, and ChalleNGe, managed by Cathy Mahmood and chaired by Nigel Cooke, Director of One Nottingham.

Guidance and support

Further information on guidance and support can be found on this page.

Still need help?

Barbara Matthews