Institute of Health & Society

Staff Profile

Dr Anna Goulding

Research Associate



My research examines how cultural engagement relates to people's everyday lives and meaning making process. I explore the psychosocial barriers to engagement alongside the processes and outcomes of participation. Central to my work is investigating how motivation intersects with age, class, ethnicity and gender. My research in the fields of art consumption in the contemporary art gallery, lifelong learning and wellbeing specifically addresses questions of cultural value. Previous research has focused on the impact of art gallery educational programmes upon participants in terms of developments to their knowledge and understanding, self-confidence and sense of identity. With a background in gallery education, I am keen that research has a practical application and feeds into contemporary gallery education practice, providing meaningful experiences for participants. 

Prior to my current post I held the position of Research Fellow at the University of Manchester on the Ambition for Ageing programme, a £10.2 million programme of work which used a collaborative approach to combating social isolation in Greater Manchester.

I gained my PhD from the University of Newcastle in 2016, where I had previously worked as CI and PI on a number of research projects. These include:

  • The role of creative interventions in fostering connectivity and resilience in older people is an AHRC-funded project critically reflecting on a range of approaches to developing resilience including community-led design, visual arts interventions, gardening and theatre.  
  • Contemporary visual art and identity construction - wellbeing amongst older people, funded by the cross-research council New Dynamics of Ageing Programme, used a qualitative approach to gauge a range of older people's reactions to visiting contemporary art galleries.  This led to a follow-on project which contributed to research-informed arts policy and interventions designed to improve the lives of older people.  
  • Dementia and Imagination: Connecting communities and developing well-being through socially engaged visual arts practice is being led by Dr. Windle at Bangor University and is funded by the AHRC Connected Communities Programme: Communities, Cultures, Health & Well-Being Large Grants. This project brings together researchers from social sciences in areas such as dementia, gerontology, psychology and economics with research in the visual arts, cultural policy and museum studies.  The project aims to look at developing well-being and connecting communities through socially engaged visual arts practice. 
  • Research for Community Heritage was funded by AHRC under the Connected Communities Programme and involved working with heritage groups to develop their projects.

I am co-editor of The Sociology of the Arts book series published by Palgrave Macmillan.



Current Work

Recent research projects include:

Research Fellow - Big Lottery Fund's Ageing Better programme 'Ambition for Ageing'. A £10.2 million Greater Manchester level programme aimed at creating more age friendly places and reducing social isolation.

PI - AHRC Connected Communities follow-up funded project exploring the role of creative interventions in fostering connectivity and resilience in older people.

Named RA and on Management Group - AHRC Communities, Cultures, Health and Wellbeing large grant 'Dementia and Imagination: Connecting communities and developing well-being through socially engaged visual arts practice'.

CI – a project exploring how the lives of older people can be improved by examining their use of contemporary visual art for identity construction practices funded by the New Dynamics of Ageing Programme (

CI - ESRC-funded Follow-on project developing research-informed arts policy and arts interventions designed to improve the wellbeing of older people - based upon the NDA funded research.

CI - a project that links University research with heritage groups in NE England funded by AHRC under the Connected Communities Programme.

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