FailSpace — also known as Cultural Participation: Stories of Success, Histories of Failure — is an AHRC-funded research project exploring how the cultural sector can better recognise, acknowledge and learn from failure, particularly when undertaking work intended to diversify and grow the people who are taking part in subsidised cultural activities. The project is led by Leila Jancovich (University of Leeds), with David Stevenson (Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh), Lucy Wright and Malaika Cunningham.


FailSpace is based on the principle that learning from failure should be an integral part of the process of making and implementing cultural projects and policies — but our research suggests that this is not always welcome in formal evaluation processes, which tend to focus on celebratory facts and figures about a project’s success and conceal or brush-off negative outcomes or issues.


We all know that despite the headlines about exciting projects and policies to address inequalities in the arts, the sector remains doggedly unequal. So we want to explore the benefits in acknowledging this more openly as a policy failure in order to find better solutions to this and other problems in the sector.
Leila and David

This website offers some tools that we have designed to help everyone in the cultural sector instigate more honest and open conversations about failure between colleagues, artists, funders, participants, participants and board members. It was designed and created by Joe Bunce and The Bare Project.



On this website you will find a range of Workshop Tools and suggestions about how you could use them to deliver your own workshops. You can also order a copy of our illustrated book, Welcome to the Cultural Desert and our Postcards of Failure, designed and illustrated by FailSpace researcher Dr Lucy Wright, both of which support specific workshop activities.



Each of our tools can be used individually or as part of a structured programme of activities to help you critically reflect on your practice. Whether you only have thirty minutes in a team meeting, a full day to evaluate and reflect on your work, or want a longer process of change management our tools are designed to get you and your stakeholders talking productively about failures.


We also deliver training  to support people in understanding how they can use our tools to run their own FailSpace workshops, which you can sign up for here.


Please sign-up to our mailing list to keep up to date with our work as the project continues!

With thanks to the 200+ people who participated in our research through workshops, online surveys, interviews and whose contributions have informed the design of these tools.