Learning at the Intersection of Language and the Arts


The LILA network is a partnership between University of Leeds and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Leeds Libraries, Pudsey Wellbeing Charity, Museu de Lleida and The British Museum. It brings together a variety of participants to consider the relationship between language and the creative arts – visual arts, drama and performance, dance, music, poetry, film, and more – for learning. In formal educational contexts, and often in informal settings too, language is the chief medium for expressing, recognising and evaluating learning. Yet the arts are increasingly employed in public services such as health and wellbeing, migrant support, children’s services and programmes, and in engagement contexts as researchers and cultural organisations seek to communicate with wider publics. The LILA network therefore responds to a need to more fully understand the relationship between language and the arts for learning in these informal contexts. It aims to generate insights into the communication of what is otherwise unsayable: the narration of unconscious knowledge, things people do not know how to talk about, do not have language for, or are prevented from speaking about.

LILA builds upon an emerging body of research into language use and language and literacy learning in which multiple creative arts practices have been part of the context, methodology, or outputs. However, the ways in which learning takes place through the co-production of language- and arts-based practice remains under-explored. The network therefore aims to address this gap by bringing together researchers across disciplines, artists, and community and cultural organisations in order to share projects and insights. Through four one-day events we consider the following questions:

1. What do different participants, audiences, research actors and organisations learn at the intersection of language and the arts, and how do they learn it?

2. How can this learning contribute to enhanced relationships, wellbeing, and social justice for individuals, communities, and organisations?

This is the third event in the series and is co-hosted by The British Museum, who run a programme to engage ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) learners with the collections, to address the ongoing challenge of using different approaches to engage with communities where language may be a barrier. This event will explore the question:

How can the arts and cultural sector, educators and/or language practitioners collaborate and inform each other in the engagement of hard-to-reach communities?

Our fourth and final event, Belonging, will be held at Museu de Lleida in October 2020. Information about the final event will be circulated very soon.


Jessica Bradley, University of Sheffield Sheila McDonald and Jodi Watson, Beyond the Page ESOL www.beyondthepage.org.uk Lisa Peter, The Shakespeare Trust 

Leanne Turvey and Alice Walton, Tate Britain and Tate Modern Creative Inquiry with IROKO theatre company



LILA Network Convenors Dr Lou Harvey, University of Leeds (L.T.Harvey@leeds.ac.uk)

Dr Emilee Moore, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Emilee.Moore@uab.cat)

Dr Cristina Aliagas Marín, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Cristina.Aliagas@uab.cat)