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Research Themes and Projects

Cities, Places, Environments

Our collaborations contribute to regional, national and international debates about the role of the arts and culture in understanding a sense of place, human rights, access and participation to art, culture and resources for well being as well as environmental crisis, risk and community resilience. From urban spaces to watery places, our research develops cultural and media policy and practices as pertaining to resources and infrastructures beyond 'the cultural' to engage diverse communities in participatory projects. We engage with wide audiences to support public participation, cultural value and opinion formation on the ground and in the places where decisions are made. Our research interests in this theme are two-fold: 1) focused on how public policies for culture promote democracy as much as creativity and how creativity and democracy are related in major cities as well as non-urban communities. 2) how national, regional and personal identity is shaped by cultural narratives of ecological and environmental histories, by global and local cultural production shaped by environmental resource management. Typical projects are concerned with intangible cultural heritage, flood and drought histories, memories of environmental protest, representation of marginalised communities, and research outputs and consultancies for City of Culture 2021.

Memories, Histories, Futures

Research on media and memory, commemorative cultures, the politics of memory, museums and heritage has been a long standing feature of the Centre's research profile. Forging cross-disciplinary links with researchers of protest memory, television histories, audience memory and users of public heritage can be found in a variety of funded projects and publications across a number of research staff. This has been international and inter-professional in its reach and significance through key collaborations (e.g. Environment Agency, Media Archive for Central England, Modern Records Centre, Museums Association, Leicester Museum and Art Gallery, People's History Museum, BBC, BFI). Our research is international in its networking and scope (e.g. the AHRC Afterlives of Protest Network, the COST Action on Slow Memory) as well as regional in our focus on Midlands' communities, and our public engagement with local artists (theatre producers, photographers, filmmakers and more) concerned with culture, memory and identity.

The Value of Culture

Having played a leading role in legitimising the study of cultural policy as a subject for academic research in the 1990s, and leading in the European Network for Cultural Policy and Development (Warwick, Hildesheim, Belgrade, Poznan and Istanbul) the Centre today is extending the ways in which culture and policy can be understood and valued to encompass a range of institutions, technologies and practices through which our everyday experience of culture is framed and defined. This requires a multidisciplinary, critical engagement with a range of public and private organisations, and the ideologies which lie behind them: from research on museums to new kinds of evaluation of culture and cultural change, to the need to widen the pool by diversifying the experts drawn on by the Department of Digital Culture Media and Sport Select Committee. From dialoguing with the British Council and UNESCO, exploring policies for cultural and creative industries in international development to the Evaluation of Cultural Leadership during City of Culture 2021 and the impact of pandemic on arts and audiences. The International Journal of Cultural Policy (housed at the Centre) continues to be a leading journal, edited by Professor Emeritus Oliver Bennett.

Future of Creative Work

Research expertise in managing creativity, sustainability, enterprise and the 'capabilities' discourse in development is a key part of the Centre's focus on creativity, the creative industries and the future of work in the creative economy. Creativity has been lionised as fundamental to everything from mental health and wellbeing to global prosperity, from national industrial growth to cultural activism and social justice. We have hosted and worked with key creatives and on creative endeavours (e.g. South African playwright Mike van Graan, the Warwick International Development Annual Photography Competition, Warwick Creative Exchange, the Creative and Digital Communities Initiative). We have been a founding research partner of the European Partnership on Cultural and Creative Spillovers and we are now leading the Creative Industries research strand of the Global Research Priority on Productivity and the Futures of Work. We continue to research the precariousness and possibilities of creative work in the UK and beyond.

Theory, Aesthetics, Popular Culture

Many of the Centre's staff began their research careers in explorations of aesthetics, creative arts and popular culture (art history, media and cultural studies, film and television, theatre, digital art, fashion, dance) as well as cultural and critical theory before turning their attention to policy questions of resources, management, development, civic society, diversity, inclusion, equity, equality and value. Theoretical thinking, scholarly work on aesthetics, and critical explorations of popular culture from television to dating apps, from film to Artificial Intelligence continue to be key through-lines of our research. We aim to challenge ideas about the nature of popular culture and the creative arts through a critical investigation of theories, texts, images and data as well as engaging with practitioners, managers and policy makers. Our research on cultural taste and consumption challenges both academic and popular assumptions about the value of popular culture and cultural participation.

Ethics, Politics, Rights

The Centre has had a long-standing research strand on cultural rights, a right to culture, memory rights and a right to memory which has informed our development of courses and interdisciplinary postgraduate modules. Our research in this area has been international, particularly in developing nations such as Brazil, has responded to Council of Europe initiatives as well as local projects on environmental and cultural participation. The Journal of Law, Social Justice and Global Development (the editor in chief from our Centre) is an academic publication of interdisciplinary research with an ethical commitment to critical thought. The journal represents the key ethical principals of the Centre, that knowledge has a power for global solidarity, collaboration and recognition, and that a university is a unique institution for the generation of new ideas, theories, experimentation and a central contribution to building a humane, enlightened global civil society. The vital importance of ethics in our cultural and media policy research is exemplified by our international cultural memory research within the Waterproofing Data project with Brazil and Germany addressing the emerging idea that highly technologized data trails are socio-cultural and technical artefacts that require deeper critical and ethical examination. As we explore the role of the digital in culture (as data, algorithms and artificial intelligence) we can apply our ethical knowledge to these new Arts and Technology challenges.

Pedagogic Research

As a Centre we are deeply committed to the teaching of cultural and media policy studies, media and cultural studies, arts and enterprise, creativity, creative industries and sustainable cultural development. Our staff have consistently innovated in pedagogic research and the new knowledges and practices needed in a changing technological culture and media landscape. From the Happenstance project (2012), through to the Mediasmith Project (2013), to the Mediated Self Project (2015) and the postgraduate student-led Media and Cultural Policy Laboratory (2018), our research-informed teaching has been successful in securing the funding for cutting-edge pedagogic research to develop new ways to inspire the next generation of creative and cultural workers.