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Dr Maria Barrett

mbarrettAssistant Professor

Course Director, MA in International Cultural Policy and Management

Email: maria dot barrett at warwick dot ac dot uk

G.41, Milburn House


I am Assistant Professor in Cultural Policy and Management and Course Director of the MA International Cultural Policy and Management. I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and a Fellow of Warwick International Higher Education Academy.

I joined Warwick as a staff member in 2018, having done my PhD at the Centre. Previously I taught at the School of Performance and Cultural Industries, University of Leeds, where I led modules on festivals and events, marketing, contemporary issues, and arts management.

Prior to that, I was Head of Management (Music, Entertainment, Theatre, and Events) at Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts, overseeing the Management degree programmes, and leading both Cultural Policy and the dissertation module. This followed my role at LIPA of Head of Student Employability and Enterprise, embedding professional skills and industry engagement into the curriculum across the Institute, including oversight of core provision at all levels. I was also module leader for a large cohort module in professional development, and Institute lead on Technology Enhanced Learning.

Before coming to teaching I was a manager, theatre director and entrepreneur, setting up several small arts businesses and theatre companies. Between 1991-2007 I worked as a freelance arts consultant working alone or as part of a consultancy I set up in 2000. Prior to this, I was Centre Director and CEO of Theatre Resource Centre, an organisation with a membership of 100+ theatre companies across north west England, which I set up and managed for seven years. I have worked at several theatres including Liverpool Playhouse and the Everyman Theatre, and served on the governing bodies of a range of arts and cultural organisations including the Independent Theatre Council’s Equality Committee.

I am a regular presenter at international conferences (selected list below). I have been invited to speak at several universities including University of Leeds, Birmingham City University, and LIPA, as well as the International Network for Audience Research in the Performing Arts (INARPA) audience research seminar. I have facillitated events for the National Theatre and seven partner theatres, and for NESTA.

I contributed to the Acting Up Report on diversity in the performing arts, contributing oral and written evidence at the House of Commons. I was also invited on a panel on education and training for the Women in Entertainment and Digital network, held at Facebook UK. My work has been used as an example of good practice by the University of Gloucestershire's Capstone Project, and by Facebook for Educators.

I am currently External Examiner for PReSPA (the Professional Recognition Scheme for the Performing Arts, an HEA route for staff of performing arts HE institutions, accredited by the HEA). I have acted as an External Examiner for several Higher Education programmes in the field of arts management including Queen Margaret University in Scotland, the University of Central Lancashire, the University of Leeds, and Glendwr University in Wales, as well as the Post Graduate Certificate in Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy.

Research interests

I am currently writing a monograph for Palgrave MacMillan on class and theatregoing, specifically looking at working class audiences at the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool through the lens of Bourdieu's conceptual triad of habitus, capital and field. This was the subject of my PhD thesis, which was undertaken here at the Centre, and was awarded by the University of Warwick in 2016.

I am part of the team evaluating the National Theatre's 'Theatre Nation Partnerships' programme with colleagues from the School of Performance and Cultural Industries at the University of Leeds. Theatre Nation is a three-year, in-depth programme focused in six areas of England, working with seven partners (Cast, Doncaster; Wakefield Theatre Royal; The Lowry, Salford; Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch; Sunderland Empire and Sunderland Culture; Wolverhampton Grand Theatre).

Teaching and supervision

I teach on the following MA modules:

  • International Cultural Policy
  • Developing Audiences for Cultural Organisations
  • The Major Project

Administrative roles

  • Course Director of the MA International Cultural Policy and Management
  • Admissions Tutor, MA International Cultural Policy and Management

Selected publications

  • Monograph: ‘Our place': class, the theatre audience and the Royal Court, Liverpool. Palgrave Macmillan (under contract/forthcoming)
  • Journal paper: ‘Diversity and social engagement: Cultivating a working class theatre audience’. In The Ecology of Culture: Community engagement, Co-creation, cross-fertilization. Book proceedings, 6th Annual Research session. Lecce: ENCATC.
  • Chapter ‘Human Resources and Artist Management’ published in Moss, S and Walmsley, B (2014) Entertainment Management: Towards Best Practice. Oxfordshire: CABI
  • Review: 'The Entertainment Industry, an Introduction’ by Stuart Moss. Journal of the Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism Network (Johlste) Published October 2010

Conference papers

  • Localism at Liverpool Royal Court – from irrelevance to cultural policy success? 11th International Conference on Cultural Policy Research, Kyoto (Cancelled due to COVID-19)

  • Distinction and theatre: capitalising on a working class taste? British Sociological Association event Social Class across the Social Sciences, Cardiff University (Cancelled due to COVID-19)

  • Chair/interviewer: ‘An Evening with’ academic/writer Jeff Young about new book on place and memory, Ghost Town (Cancelled due to COVID-19)
  • The theatre in the city and the city in the theatre. 2019 International Federation of Theatre Research World Congress, Shanghai.

  • Creating meaning, cultivating value: Audiences at the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool. Audience Research in the Arts Conference, Sheffield Performer and Audience Research Centre (SPARC), University of Sheffield (accepted). 2019
  • Care and the classed community – how one theatre nurtures social connection to eradicate middle class norms. CAMEo Research Institute for Cultural and Media Economies at the University of Leicester, 2018.
  • Performing class – how working class audiences have [re]claimed a valorised theatre space British Sociological Association Annual Conference, 2018
  • Performing the everyday – class, audiences, and the valorised theatre space. Everyday Participations, University of Manchester. 2018
  • Tradition, contemporaneity and simulacrum – the case of the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool. International University for Global Theatre Experience (IUGTE), Austria (accepted). 2017
  • Reflecting a working class habitus: The case of the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool. 9th Midterm Conference of the Sociology of the Arts: Arts and Creativity. Porto (accepted). 2016
  • Distinction and theatre: Capitalising on a working class taste? British Sociological Association Annual Conference, Birmingham. 2016
  • The field of theatregoing: Bourdieu and working class “taste”. BSA Bourdieu Study Group Annual Conference, Bristol. 2016
  • Class, aesthetics and repertoire: the case of the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool. Society for Theatre Research Third Annual Symposium: Innovation in Performance History and Practice, University of Bristol. 2016
  • Using Twitter to Enhance Learning and Teaching: practice and policy. 3rd European Conference on Social Media in Caen, France (accepted). 2016
  • Diversity and social engagement: Cultivating a working class theatre audience. ENCATC (the European network on cultural management and policy), Lecce, Italy. 2015
  • Exploring “class” in the field of theatregoing, delivered 2014-15 at
    • 8th International Conference on Cultural Policy Research, Hildesheim, Germany
    • International Federation for Theatre Research World Congress, University of Warwick
    • International Perspectives on Participation and Engagement in the Arts, Utrecht University, Netherlands.

Professional associations

  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Fellow of Warwick International Higher Education Academy
  • Member of the British Sociological Association
  • Member of the International Network for Audience Research in the Performing Arts (iNARPA)

Office hours

I'm happy to discuss the course or your work with you by video conference, telephone, or email. Please email me to arrange. I will normally respond within 24 hours.





Photographs of the Royal Court, Liverpool by Maria Barrett, (c) 2014