Our Areas of Work

NCACE is focussed on activities across four distinct yet interconnected areas. These are: Brokerage, Collaboration Support and Networking; Skills and Capacity Development; Evidencing and Impact Development and Showcasing and Communication, with programme evaluation ongoing throughout the project.

Brokerage, Collaboration Support and Networking

Whilst Knowledge Exchange, in its wider sense, between higher education research and the arts and cultural sectors is a well-established activity with many different models, manifestations and positive effects, there is often a lack of awareness on both sides about how to make it happen. 

NCACE is focussed on creating positive ecologies and environments in which to foster excellent Knowledge Exchange and collaboration between Higher Education and the arts and cultural sector and on supporting ambition around the wider potential and impacts for such work.

Associated activities and getting involved

Throughout each year NCACE runs annual workshops and an Ideas Pool to bring together researchers and arts and culture sector professionals for challenge-led ideas generation. 

We awarded four micro-commissions, following our first Ideas Pool event. These small projects explored ideas to support better knowledge exchange and collaboration between the higher education and arts and cultural sector. The projects are complete and the NCACE Micro-Commissions Evaluation Report is now available to download.

The report underlines the need for responsive, flexible and light touch modes of support for the development of new ideas and partnerships. NCACE continues to advocate to funders and policy makers regarding the need for small amounts of “proof of concept” funding for cultural knowledge exchange. 

The second Ideas Pool was held in February 2023. We supported a second round of micro-commissions, these small awards are intended to develop collaborative relationships rather than project delivery. A creative mapping visualisation of the second Ideas Pool and micro-commissions will be available in Autumn 2023.

Across the life of the programme, we anticipate the workshops and Ideas Pools will focus on the following themes: health, climate change, place-making and levelling out and technologies for social good.

Please contact us if you would like to be involved, get in touch with Noshin Sultan noshin@tcce.co.uk in the first instance.

Skills and Capacity Development

Within Higher Education, there are challenges faced by KE professionals and researchers alike, with a lack of opportunities for networking, peer to peer learning and professional development often cited. 

For arts sector professionals, the need for better practical knowledge and know-how in this area is still a key concern for many, and the phrase ‘I don’t know where to start’ is all too common. 

NCACE aims to provide support and development opportunities for: Knowledge Exchange Professionals, academics with a keen interest in developing social impacts, and arts/culture sector workers who wish to develop partnerships with universities.

Associated activities and getting involved

Every year we run a ‘state of the nation’ style event on supporting and showcasing excellent knowledge exchange with the arts and culture sector. In 2021 this was our launch event Knowledge Conversations: The Power of Collaborative Action. Following on from our launch, the second event held in March 2022 was entitled The Power of Collaborative Action: People, Place and Planet. It considered how knowledge exchange and working in partnership fosters connections, creativity and innovation across a myriad of important and often interconnecting themes. Our third event The Power of Collaborative Action III: Leading the Future of Cultural Knowledge Exchange was held on 8 March 2023, you can listen to the audio recording here.

Our Knowledge Impacts Network (KIN) is open to anyone who works in or is interested in Knowledge Exchange and wider partnerships. In particular the KIN network provides informal opportunities to hear about how to approach KE challenges, to share knowledge, industry expertise and successes, and to build and enhance professional support networks across our community. We are also supporting this by our KIN Support Sets, action learning sets to support collaborative and creative problem solving which are being led by Guildhall Coaching Associates. Recordings for past KIN events can be found on our SoundCloud channel.

We are also running a series of leadership workshops, one held per annum. Our third Leadership Workshop Developing your Leadership Narrative took place in July 2023, the focus this time around was on narratives around female leadership, and provided an opportunity for female leaders to explore the myths, challenges and power of female leadership.

We have also published the NCACE Action Research Report: Skills and Capacity for Knowledge Exchange with the Arts and Cultural Sector addressing the challenging environment faced by KE professionals and arts sector professionals.

Please contact us if you would like to be involved, get in touch with Noshin Sultan noshin@tcce.co.uk in the first instance.

Evidencing and Impact Development

The NCACE Evidence Repository is concerned with addressing the need for more and better evidence on the scale, extent, nature, drivers, and broader impacts of Knowledge Exchange and collaborations between Higher Education and the arts and culture sectors. It is a unique and carefully curated resource of materials that includes academic literature as well as case studies, reports, toolkits and blogs. The Evidence Repository contains all the NCACE publications which document our work on evidencing the impacts of Knowledge Exchange between Higher Education and the arts and culture sectors.  

NCACE’s broader work around Evidence comprises three interrelated areas: NCACE Evidence Repository, NCACE Evidence Cafés and Policy Workshops, and NCACE Blogs.

In spring 2021 we launched the NCACE Evidence Café, as an ongoing series that brings together researchers, knowledge exchange professionals as well as arts and culture sector professionals and practitioners around particular themes. The Cafés are designed to offer a space for sharing evidence and best practice, as well as case studies, storytelling and takeovers. So far, we have held Cafés on the themes of the Climate Emergency, Place-making and Arts and Health, in addition to more specialised events on the KEF and narrating Cultural Knowledge Exchange.

We also hold an annual policy workshop in June each year, which brings together artistic and cultural practitioners, researchers, Knowledge Exchange professionals and policy-makers around a particular theme. Past workshops have been very well attended and include 'Collaborations in Placemaking: Shining a Light on the Contribution of Higher Education and Cultural Partnerships' (2021), ‘Culture and Collaborations on the Climate Emergency’ (2022) and our latest Collaborations in Creative Health took place on 22 June 2023. 

Associated activities and getting involved

As part of our work in this area, we are keen to hear from those of you who may like to contribute case studies, reports or other materials that focus on collaborative activities between HE and the arts and, in particular, where there are social, cultural or environmental impacts arising from that work. This will be helpful as we continue to co-create the Evidence Repository as a unique resource base for Cultural Knowledge Exchange. We would also like to hear from you if you’re interested in participating in one of our events, or if you are a researcher or knowledge exchange professional working with the arts or if you are an arts professional working with universities.

Please contact us if you would like to be involved.

Showcasing and Communications

Communicating the wider benefits of knowledge exchange and helping to narrate this emerging field continues to be a key need. NCACE aims to showcase models of good practice in KE with the arts and cultural sectors from universities across both through our Evidence Repository, other online resources and publications as well as a bi-annual mini-festival.

Associated activities and getting involved

The NCACE Blog supports writing about Knowledge Exchange between HEIs and the arts/culture sector, and themes of relevance to the centre’s mission and audience. We are always keen to hear  about collaborative projects between Higher Education and the arts and culture sector. We are also keen to hear about initiatives that support wider societal, cultural and/or environmental impacts, or that act as a follow up to any of our events or activities. You can access the NCACE Blog Guidelines here. For further information contact Noshin Sultan on noshin@tcce.co.uk.

We established an editorial partnership with ArtsProfessional, and have published a series of eight articles designed to promote awareness of NCACE to the arts and culture sector. Over the course of the partnership our articles have included: Co-designing a sustainable future for arts and higher education collaboration, Ways of working with universities revealed and Arts and higher education: a successful partnership in action. The full list of articles can be found here.

In October 2022 our first mini-festival NCACE Festival of Cultural Knowledge Exchange took place. The festival week was designed to raise the profile of Cultural Knowledge Exchange best practice and act as a space for fresh considerations and perspectives on cultural knowledge exchange between Higher Education and the Arts and Cultural Sector. The recordings of our festival events are available on our SoundCloud channel. Our second festival will take place in 2024.

NCACE produces a Monthly Bulletin, through which you can keep abreast of our activities. We also post regular updates through our social media channels; Twitter @CultureImpacts and LinkedIn. You can also listen to recordings of past and recent NCACE events via our SoundCloud channel.

Our latest Annual Report 2021/22 is available to read here.


Evaluation, as a valuable tool for learning, will be an integral part of this programme from the outset. Its purpose is to enable the ongoing evaluation of both the processes used to deliver the programme, as well as the programme outputs, outcomes and impacts. Importantly, it is supporting an ongoing dialogue and iteration across each area of work, in order to ensure effectiveness and efficiency in programme co-design and delivery. Evaluation will be guided by relevant principles, including Theory of Change, while stakeholders across the programme will further drive the co-creation of our evaluation framework.

Getting Involved

We invite academic and non-academic staff in HEIs, as well as arts and culture sector workers and practitioners to participate across all areas of NCACE activities. 

Find out how to participate and you can also contact us in the first instance if you would like to be involved.