SPARC was founded in 2010 by Professor Stephanie Pitts as part of the strong profile of music psychology research at the University of Sheffield. The founding members were recent PhD graduates of the Department of Music, Melissa Dobson and Kate Gee, and their co-supervisor from the Department of Psychology, Christopher Spencer. Together, they completed a research project with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (Pitts, Dobson, Gee & Spencer, 2013). From the outset, therefore, SPARC has been committed to investigating interdisciplinary perspectives on audience engagement, and to collaborating with external arts organisations.

Founding Members

SPARC was established in 2010 by Stephanie Pitts and Chris Spencer and their jointly supervised PhD students, Melissa Dobson and Kate Gee, shortly after Melissa and Kate graduated from the Music and Psychology departments of the University of Sheffield.  We worked jointly on a knowledge exchange project with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, before Melissa and Kate left Sheffield for other academic roles.

Photo of Stephanie Pitts.STEPHANIE PITTS
The University of Sheffield, UK

Photo of Christopher Spencer.CHRISTOPHER SPENCER
The University of Sheffield, UK

Photo of Melissa Dobson.MELISSA DOBSON
Guildhall School of Music & Drama, UK

Photo of Kate Gee.KATE GEE
Canterbury Christ Church University, UK

Previous Colleagues

A variety of valued academic colleagues have contributed to SPARC projects since its establishment, including those funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the University of Sheffield Impact, Innovation and Knowledge Exchange (IIKE), and the University of Sheffield Arts Enterprise Fund .


Photo of Jonathan GrossJONATHAN GROSS


lucypic (2)LUCY DEARN