School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

Staff Profile

Dr Niki Black

Post-doctoral Research Associate



Niki Black works in the School of Architecture, Landscape and Planning as Post-doctoral Research Associate on the Living Deltas Research Hub. Her research focuses on the heritage, culture and creative interpretations of life in three major river deltas in Asia to build understandings of past, present and possible futures. Her work uses creative, participatory approaches to co-produce knowledge of the delta cultures towards building resilience and sustainable futures amidst a rapidly changing environment. She also currently works in the School of Arts and Cultures towards new collaborations and research projects in Fine Art and Heritage, and on impact projects resulting from the successful, AHRC funded Mapping Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience (2017-20). Niki's research interests include cultural festivals, contemporary arts in heritage, social renewal and social sustainability. Her research brings together strands from different disciplines, addressing access to arts and culture and the impact of artworks and artists within a heritage environment. 

Previous research in 2016/7 within the Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal included Social Inequalities in Rural Britain: impacts on young people post 2008 (NISR) which investigated the impact of austerity on young people in rural areas.

Niki completed her PhD in 2015 which considered the impact of small-scale, rural festivals upon social sustainability through case studies within Northumberland, UK. This research focused upon social impact and connectivity, festivals, heritage and social sustainability within communities.

Her paper Festival Connections: how consistent and innovative connections enable small-scale rural festivals to contribute to socially sustainable communities won an Emerald Literati Network Award for Excellence 2017.


Niki joined the University in the role of Research Associate within the Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal in January 2016 following completion of her PhD in December 2015. She was appointed as RA in the School of Arts and Culture in January 2017 to work on the AHRC research project, Mapping Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience, completed in March 2020, upon which she took up the role of PDRA on Living Deltas in SALP. Previous posts at Newcastle University include Associate Lecturer and Undergraduate Supervisor in Combined Studies (2013 - 2015) and Occasional Lecturer (Postgraduate Studies) in the International Centre for Cultural Heritage Studies (ICCHS) (2011 -2015). Prior to joining Newcastle University she had numerous roles teaching in Higher Education and within Heritage/Environmental Visitor Centre Management and Education (1992 - 2009) in concurrence with working as an Artist and Arts Development Coordinator (1995 - on-going).

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Research Associate - School of Architecture, Landscape and Planning (SALP)
  • Research Associate - School of Arts and Culture
  • Research Associate - Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal
  • Occasional Lecturer - Media, Culture and Heritage (MCH)


BA Hons (1990), MA (2011), PhD (2015) All Newcastle University, UK

Additional Qualifications

Foundation Certificate in Art (1996) Winchester College of Art, UK; Part A Introduction to Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (2012) Newcastle University; Teaching Certificate in Basic Skills (2002) North East Open College Network; Graduate Certificate in Tourism and Leisure (1991) Sunderland University; Certificate in TEFL (1991), York House, Barcelona.



Research interests include

  • small-scale festivals, cultural heritage content and process, impact of festivals within host communities
  • social sustainability, belonging and identity in place, impact of heritage and place on connectivity
  • contemporary art within heritage settings
  • social inclusion and sustainable development within rural communities

Currently working on the Living Deltas, UKRI Global Challenges Research Hub, Work Package 1: Heritage, Livelihoods and Delta Living. Main research interests are the cultures and heritage, particularly processes and practices, within the delta regions and how these practices contribute to building resilience and sustainability within these rural communities. In particular, innovative responses and adaptations to culture through time, the inheritance of skills and practices and how these inform responses to current crises. 

Previous research: Mapping Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience: Creation, Consumption and Exchange - a multi-partner project to map the trajectory of contemporary art in heritage sites in the UK, understand how artists engage with the heritage context in the creation of contemporary art for heritage properties and analyse how contemporary artworks commissioned for those contexts are received and consumed by heritage property visitors. Visit the project website at

Social Inequality in Rural Britain: impacts on young people post-2008, investigated the impact of changes to public policy and welfare reform within sparsely populated regions of the UK. The research focused on young people aged 16 - 29 in a rural area of Northumberland, looking in particular, into youth transition, sources of welfare and support and secondary impact of austerity on access to opportunities.