News / 05 Jul 2023

Honorary arts degrees to be awarded by Leeds Arts University

University News

Image of Louise with chin length blonde hair and a black dress. She is at an award ceremony, and smiling


/ Louise Malkinson

Olivia has long deep orange hair and large brown glasses. She's wearing a classic beige coat over a black dress


/ Olivia Downing

Producer and Director Louise Malkinson, who has been commissioned by Netflix, BBC and ITV, and Associate Creative Director, Olivia Downing, who made The Drum Awards 50 under 30 list, are set to receive Honorary Master of Arts degrees from Leeds Arts University.

Both industry leaders will be recognised by Leeds Arts University during a graduation ceremony on Monday 10 July 2023. The ceremony will celebrate graduating students from across the University’s undergraduate degree courses.

Leeds Arts University’s Chancellor, Skin; acclaimed DJ, fashion icon, actress, activist and lead singer of multi-million selling rock band, Skunk Anansie, is attending the graduation ceremony in-person for the first time since taking on the role in 2021 and will give an address to graduating students and guests.

“We are honoured to present Honorary Master of Arts degrees to Louise Malkinson and Olivia Downing. Both Olivia and Louise have close links with the University and have supported and inspired our students for many years, so it is in an honour to recognise them in this way. As outstanding practitioners in their respective fields, they are inspirational examples of where a career in the creative industries can lead. I hope our graduating students are encouraged by these stories of success as they leave the University to take their next steps into their creative careers.”

Professor Simone Wonnacott, Vice-Chancellor, Leeds Arts University

Olivia Downing is the Associate Creative Director of brand agency Continuous in Liverpool, and has worked on clients such as Alton Towers, Primark, Pizza Hut, David Lloyd Clubs, to name a few. She has been recognised by multiple awards bodies, judging ‘Writing for Advertising’ for D&AD 2021, The Drum Roses 2023 and has featured on The Drum’s ‘50 under 30 list of Outstanding Women in Creative and Digital in the World’, as well as Creative Equals’ ‘Future Leaders ‘Ones to Watch’ list in 2021. She also won the creative competition School of Thought in 2017 - taking her to Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

“In a time when the valour of the creative industries is being downplayed, it is a real honour to receive this award. Hopefully, this will inspire the next generation of creative thinkers of what I have always believed and promoted: there is room at this table for everyone - take your seat.”

Olivia Downing, Associate Creative Director, Continuous

A graduate from Leeds Arts University’s BA (Hons) Visual Communication, Louise Malkinson has over 20 years of experience specialising in observational documentaries, and is renowned for securing and maintaining high-level access within institutions such as the Police, the National Health Service, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Defence. Working with highly sensitive and complex subject matters, Louise has years of experience troubleshooting on legally complicated crime series. Often working in challenging and extreme environments, Louise has spent time in the Middle East, working in both Northern Iraq and Afghanistan on documentary projects.

Most recently Louise series directed the major Netflix documentary series ‘MH370 – The Plane That Disappeared’ which went straight to No.1 in the USA and UK Netflix chart and was in the top 10 in 86 countries across the world.

“I am deeply honoured to be receiving this award. I loved my time at Leeds Arts University! It was on my Visual Communications BA that I really discovered my passion for documentary. At the time filmmaking wasn’t really part of the course but the tutors were constantly working to tailor the course to students’ individual needs. They went above and beyond to help me develop my skills and make links to industry professionals which ultimately provided the foot in the door to start my career. I have loved being able to come back to LAU over the years and talk to students about my experience and career, and I hope that I am able to inspire them in the same way I was inspired and encouraged during my time at the university.”

Louise Malkinson, documentary filmmaker

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