Arts Leadership and Mentoring to address social and artistic isolation: a reflective case study.


  • Tessa Palfrey University of Lincoln
  • Kirsty Russell
  • Kirstyn Michalczyk


Following several months of lockdown and online learning, collated anecdotal evidence suggested students were experiencing negative consequences of both social and artistic isolation. To address this, the dance department at the University of Lincoln created the extra-curricular Arts Leadership and Mentoring Programme (ALMP) in September 2020.

The Arts Leadership and Mentoring Programme consisted of two strands -

The Peer Mentoring Scheme offered individual student led mentoring opportunities for students enrolled in the Dance department. The programme sought to build the academic community between the undergraduate and postgraduate courses, and offered a mutually beneficial activity for both mentor and mentee. Students were required to actively engage with peers and staff to take responsibility and invest in their learning process.

The Artist Development Scheme offered work-based learning opportunities to Postgraduate students in order to develop the discipline specific, and transferable skills necessary for a career as a dance/movement artist. The scheme gave an opportunity to enter into a two-way working relationship with academic staff, and to receive discipline specific mentoring in various roles by shadowing academic staff on research and professional practice projects.

These activities were supplemented by weekly group meetings with academic tutors in an attempt to minimise feelings of social and artistic isolation reported by both staff and students. This reflective case study tracks the development, implementation and results of the programme, leaning on postgraduate student responses to reflect on the efficacy and future development possibilities. Over the past 6 months, students engaging in these initiatives have reported fewer feelings of isolation, stating that the opportunities to continue engaging with students and staff outside of curriculum teaching has maintained the community aspect of the course, allowing students to continue to feel connected and supported by each other.

The next stage in the programme is to consider the transition of the Arts Leadership and Mentoring programme to face to face interaction, with a trial phase of face to face ‘Peers in Progress’; a peer feedback platform for undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as paid internships for students and a more diverse range of opportunities.


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How to Cite

Palfrey, T., Russell, K. ., & Michalczyk, K. (2023). Arts Leadership and Mentoring to address social and artistic isolation: a reflective case study. Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal, 5(1), 28–35. Retrieved from