School of Arts and Cultures

Staff Profiles

Dr Niki Black

Research Associate



Niki Black currently works as a Research Associate in the School of Arts and Culture. 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. She is currently working on Mapping Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience, a three year,  AHRC funded project which critically examines the creation and reception of contemporary artworks commissioned for heritage sites including the impact on the artist, site management and visitors to the heritage sites.

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. 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 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 community social sustainability, belonging and identity in place, impact of heritage and place on connectivity
  • contemporary art within heritage settings
  • social inclusion within rural communities.

Currently working on two research projects:

Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience: Creation, Consumption and Exchange is 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, investigates the impact of changes to public policy and welfare reform within sparsely populated regions of the UK. The research focuses 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.