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Post-Doctoral Research Associate (PDRA)

Are you an ambitious researcher passionate about the role that culture, and creativity can play in delivering sustainable place-based development? Can you see yourself working on a year-long programme that brings together experts from across the UK working in academia, local and national governments and leading sector representative bodies to co-design new policies for a future UK policy landscape?

Post-Doctoral Research Associate (PDRA)


Culture Commons are a small yet highly impactful policy and advocacy organisation supporting the UK’s creative and cultural sectors.

We are working in partnership with several leading research institutions and universities from across the UK to explore the future of local cultural decision making in a flagship open policy development programme.

The aim of the programme is to bring research from relevant fields together to inform a new suite of policy recommendations for national and local level decision makers that we hope will improve the outcomes that the creative and cultural sectors can bring to different types of local communities.

The overall programme is funded by over 20 partners from across the UK, including local governments, creative and cultural sector representatives, arm’s length bodies and grant giving organisations (see full list of partners below).

We are now seeking a PDRA to join the Culture Commons team, working in close collaboration with our Research Partners at the University of Leeds, University of Warwick and a number of other leading institutions from across the UK. This post is being part-funded by Culture Commons, University of Leeds and the University of Warwick.

Open Policy Development Programme

‘The future of local cultural decision making’ is an open policy development programme led by Culture Commons that will bring together a coalition over 20 partners from local government, creative and cultural sector representatives, arm’s length bodies, and leading universities to explore the implications of, and possible policy recommendations we might make, on the process of devolution and increased local decision making around culture and creativity across the UK.

Launched in October 2023, this 12-month programme aims to establish a first-of-its-kind collaborative and deliberative policy dialogue with key local and national stakeholders, unpacking the risks and opportunities across four key themes to primarily consider how local government and relevant sectors can work together to deliver wider benefits to different localities across the UK.

Job Description

As a PDRA embedded within the Culture Commons team, you will work closely with and be line managed by Culture Commons’ Policy and Programmes Manager. 

In addition, Professor Leila Jancovich at the University of Leeds and Associate Professor David Wright at the University of Warwick will provide research supervision throughout.

As part of your day-to-day activities, you will:

  • Be a key member of the Culture Commons programme delivery team and a critical interlocutor between multiple Research Partners including University of Leeds, Centre for Cultural Value, University of Warwick, University of Dundee

  • Review and synthesise existing literature (including academic research, policy documents and other grey literature) from interdisciplinary fields relevant to the creative and cultural sectors, local government, placemaking and development, primarily covering four key research themes of: Local Cultural Decision Making; Culture-led Place Shaping; Funding; Local Voice

  • Support the programme’s Research Partners on time sensitive research activities, keeping the Culture Commons team update on progress

  • Identify opportunities to streamline and/or harmonise research tasks across the four key research themes identified above to maximise time and ensure Culture Commons are drawing on the expertise sitting across all our Research Partners

  • Support the development of workshops, policy labs and other internal and external facing insight gathering activities in close collaboration with the Policy and Programmes Manager

  • Record and synthesise key findings from research activities at pace and in formats that are digestible and relevant to the Culture Commons team, wider Research Partners and the programme’s senior Steering Panel (i.e. both academic and non-academic audiences)

  • Identify and monitor key research findings as they arise across the Research Partner teams and record them in a centrally available digital policy platform

  • Prepare internal and external written reports and present verbally at internal and external meetings on findings to inform key decision-making moments in the programme lifecycle as needed

  • Administer tasks associated with the research project, including engagement with the programme’s dedicated programme hub, glassclubes, as well as attendance at team, and stakeholder meetings and events

  • Produce interim ‘policy primers’ for publication either as reports or blogs

These duties provide a framework for the role and should not be regarded as a definitive list. Other reasonable duties may be required consistent with the grade of the post.


UK (remote, hybrid and flexible working options anywhere in the UK; some travel may be required from time to time)


£34,000.00 pro rata


30 hours a week (0.8 FTE)


20 days pro rata plus bank holidays


Fixed term employment contract from January 2024 to October 2024 (maximum 40 weeks)

Start Date

As soon as possible in 2024

Person specification

As Post-Doctoral Research Associate, you will have:

  • A PhD in Cultural Management, Cultural Participation, Culture and Place or a closely related discipline

  • Experience working with or on cultural/heritage sectors and/or creative industries or associated policy areas

  • The proven ability to generate high quality outputs for different audiences, including policy makers, academia

  • Good time management and planning skills, with the ability to meet tight deadlines and work effectively under pressure

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills including presentation skills

  • The ability to communicate effectively with a wide range of stakeholders

  • The proven ability to manage competing demands effectively, responsibly and without close support

  • A proven ability to work well both individually and in a team

  • A strong commitment to your own continuous professional development

You may also have:

  • Experience of developing policy for the creative industries and cultural sectors

  • Experience of project administration

Culture Commons are committed to ensuring that all our roles are open to everyone who would like to apply, including those from demographic groups underrepresented in the workforce. We are very happy to make reasonable adjustments to ensure your application process is open to you - please let us know if there is anything we can do to support that.

Application process

Prospective candidates are required to submit:

  • Your CV of no-longer than 2 pages

  • A short cover letter (no more than 2 A4 sides, font size 11) describing why you are the right fit for this role with specific reference to the person specification

Please submit your application, FAO Alanna Reid, Policy and Programmes Manager to

Deadline for application:  21st December 2023

Interview date:  4th January 2024 (afternoon) in person or online (time tbc)

About Us

Culture Commons bring the creative, cultural and research sectors together to design policy, influence decision makers and drive positive change. We build impactful advocacy programmes and campaigns to influence policy makers at the local, national and international levels.

Our small team is made up policy professionals, creative and cultural sector leaders, former politicians, grassroots activists, civil servants, and parliamentary advisers who all have track records of taking ideas from proposal into law.

Based in London and Sheffield, we operate a cross-subsidy and not-for-profit model that enables us to both work with leading creative businesses and research institutions, but also support smaller and grassroots creative and cultural organisations - ensuring that all voices are heard in policy making processes.

We are kindly supported directly and indirectly with project and core grant funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Arts Council England, Arts and Humanities Research Council, Federation of Entertainment Unions and Research England.

You can find out more about us at

Full List of programme partners

Art Fund
Arts Council England
Belfast City Council
Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority

Centre for Cultural Value

Creative Estuary
The County Council of Durham
Greater Manchester Combined Authority

Harlow District Council
Historic England

Libraries Connected

Paul Hamlyn Foundation

Sheffield Collective

South Yorkshire Combined Authority

University of Dundee

University of Leeds

University of Warwick

Wigan Council

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