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A Head of Cultural Engagement has been appointed at the University of Leeds as part of preparations for its forthcoming Cultural Institute.

The Cultural Institute, due to formally launch later this year, is the first of its kind in the North. It will provide a platform for arts and science collaboration, working with creative sector partners and the University’s rich cultural resources to benefit society through the creation, application and distribution of cultural knowledge.

Professor Ann Sumner has been appointed to the new role, to work with Sue Hayton, the institute’s Associate Director, as well as Dean of Arts Frank Finlay and Dean of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications David Cooper.

Professor Finlay said: “Many colleagues will know Ann from the excellent work she has been doing for the University to promote its public art. She brings with her a wealth of relevant experience and expertise, not least as a former Director of Birmingham’s Barber Institute.”

Sue Hayton said: “Ann’s role is vital in our plans to provide one point of entry for culture-related research, cultural production and to open up the campus to new audiences.”

Professor Sumner said: “I’m delighted to have been appointed to this new role at such an exciting time and look forward to working with colleagues across the University and with our many partners beyond campus regionally, nationally and internationally.

“I’ve enjoyed my time at Leeds thus far enormously and am enthusiastic about the opportunities for wide cultural engagement ahead. We have such a wealth of cultural attractions on campus.”

Widely published, Ann has a wealth of curatorial and cultural management experience, having begun her career at the National Portrait Gallery and held positions at Dulwich Picture Gallery and the Holburne Museum, Bath, she became Head of Fine Art at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff and Director of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts and Barber Professor of Fine Arts and Curatorial Practice, University of Birmingham.  She is a Trustee of the Methodist Art Collection, sits on the Research Committee of the Ironbridge Museum Trust and Advisory Board for the School of Art, Aberystwyth University.  At Leeds, she headed up the Public Art Project and is now strategic lead for the Yorkshire Year of the Textile programme of commissioning and community engagement which is Arts Council England funded, having had broad experience of partnership and inter-disciplinary working.  She chairs the University’s Culture Group and Shakespeare 1616 – 2016 Steering Group.  Her research interests currently include the American sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe whose Man-Made Fibres sculpture is situated on Clothworkers South on campus.

Professor Sumner has spent the past year heading up the new Public Art Project, which included the launch of a public art trail around campus, organising a successful symposium, workshops and a programme of events, curating a forthcoming exhibition about American sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe, and planning an interdisciplinary Yorkshire Year of the Textile programme to celebrate the rich textile history of the University and wider region.

She will continue to be the strategic lead on the Yorkshire Year of the Textile Public Art Project and will be closely involved in its delivery.

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