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The University of Bedfordshire’s Culture and Community Engagement team (formerly Arts and Culture Projects) brings together university expertise with civic and sector partners, acting as a bridge nationally and locally between higher education, business and local people. Harnessing institutional interdisciplinary research and leading on practical projects, the team focuses on issues and challenges that are locally relevant and nationally significant.

The Culture and Community Engagement team works through a place-based methodology, intersecting higher education priorities surrounding the institution’s Access and Participation Plan, Knowledge Exchange Framework and research impact. It works in a collaborative way with internal and external partners to identify new ideas and solutions. This includes acting as a facilitator, partner, business developer and lead at a civic, regional, national, and cross-sector level. This is done by gathering evidence, providing space for prototyping new ways of working, attracting significant funding, delivering civic interventions, and uniting partners and local people around projects that make a difference.

Joining the University in 2017, Emma heads up the Culture and Community Engagement Team. Emma has international experience in establishing socially-engaged cultural and community projects in partnership with a range of cross-sector collaborations.

She has specific specialisms in applied practice, widening participation agendas, skills development and capacity building models, and collaborations across UK higher education.

Prior to working at UoB, Emma was the Learning and Participation Manager at Trestle Theatre Company and Lecturer in Drama (MA and PGCE courses) for Middlesex University. In 2016, she was part of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Arts, Health and Wellbeing SIG, supporting the Creative Health inquiry. This derived from the Arts and Health practice that Emma developed at Trestle, as well as before Trestle as a cultural practitioner.

You can get in touch with Emma at

Jitty has vast local knowledge and experience of working locally, regionally and nationally in events, production, cultural programming, community, education and outreach.

A key part of driving forward this work is her extensive work in the cultural sector, embedded within local communities, and her role developing cultural education partnerships. Jitty’s experience plays a key role where there is a lot to be said in developing a rich multiplicity of arts and culture, inspiring young people and entrenching her experience within civic engagement to further enrich cultural place making for all to be proud of and celebrate. She has spent much time on various projects and events in project management and coordination, comprising both inception and delivery.

Jitty enjoys the challenges and make-up of the cultural landscape, whether it be in research and evaluation, the development and production of events, engaging new audiences or the advancement of diverse voices. Learning and collaboration play a huge part in the development of such endeavours. Enjoying experimental and abstract ideas in engaging diverse nationalities and groups to create new and innovative perspectives on creative improvement and deliverance.

Jitty has successfully produced large scale indoor and outdoor events throughout her 20-year career and also successfully delivered programmes in cultural education/upskilling of various styles and formats. Currently leading on the Heritage Partnership project with the University of Northampton; Jitty’s skills are being put to the test!

You can get in touch with Jitty at

Jen joined the Culture and Community Engagement team in October 2022 and currently leads on the Heritage Horizons project supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Graduating from the University of Birmingham with a history degree in 2021, Jen subsequently completed an MA in heritage conservation at the University of York. In both courses Jen consistently sought opportunities to investigate the histories of underrepresented groups. She is interested in the ways in which heritage practitioners can use the past to connect with communities and build relationships, and her post-graduate thesis examined the barriers preventing members of marginalised groups from engaging with built heritage conservation and planning.

Jen has experience working in a number of heritage institutions in the South East and West Midlands, including Historic England. Having grown up in Bedfordshire, she is now keen to make a difference at home and to highlight the value of local heritage and stories.

You can get in touch with Jen at

Leona joined the Arts and Culture projects team as a Heritage Projects Officer in September 2022 and commenced her PhD in October 2023. Her research will focus on the social and cultural history of community radio stations in super-diverse towns, through the curation of a life-story archive.

Alongside this, she is the Creative Director and Oral Historian of Inkslingers Media, an award-winning audio production company creating radio programmes, audio documentaries, and oral history collections from community heritage stories.

She came to academia as a community and public radio practitioner, having worked in BBC Radio 2 and 4 as a producer in magazine format programmes and as an Operations and Volunteer manager and producer/presenter in community radio.

Before joining the radio industry, she held a variety of roles including magazine features journalist and sales & marketing manager in the writing, coworking, and online employment industries.

You can get in touch with Leona at

The Culture and Community Engagement team frequently hosts a University of Bedfordshire graduate for three to sixth months as part of the organisation’s Graduate Advancement Placement programme (GAP).

In the past, GAP students have worked closely with the team to support our project work and wider community engagement by programming events, creating marketing materials, assisting with evaluations and managing social media content. We aim to adapt each placement to suit the individual and their interests, as well as their development needs.

If you are a recent University of Bedfordshire graduate and are interested in working with us, read more about the GAP programme