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Dr Bethany Rex

Bethany RexLeverhulme Early Career Research Fellow

Email:Bethany dot Rex at warwick dot ac dot uk

Website: Twitter | ORCID | Google Scholar

About

I joined the Centre for Cultural & Media Policy Studies in December 2019 as a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow. Prior to this, I completed my undergraduate degree in Combined Arts at Durham University in 2009 before undertaking an MA in Museum Studies at the University of East Anglia (2012-13) where I studied both the discourse and practice of participation in museums to understand the histories and significance of these developments. My doctoral research (2013-2017) was prompted by an interest in the relationship between government policy (local, national and transnational) and museum practice, particularly the shift towards ‘localism’ which characterised the early days of the 2010 to 2015 coalition government and was accompanied by widespread cuts to local government budgets.

The topic of my thesis was museum asset transfer, a process whereby community organisations take responsibility for the management and governance of museums previously run by local authorities. Museum asset transfer has accelerated since a programme of austerity was implemented in 2010. My current research explores how the form and function of local authority museum services have changed over the previous decade, continuing the emphasis in my research on contemporary developments in museum management and governance.

Between 2017-2019, I worked as a Research Fellow at University of the Arts London on the Creative Lenses project exploring both the business models of arts and cultural organisations and how practitioners respond to the imperative to become more ‘business-like’. During this time, I also held an AHRC Creative Economy Engagement Fellowship for a project on the cultural policies of the European Union and worked as Knowledge Exchange Manager for the newly formed Social Design Institute. I continue to work on projects centred on both the changing fortunes of publicly subsidised culture (Civic Culture funded by Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal) and the impact of austerity on the role of community and voluntary sector in public service provision (Locally-Rooted funded by Power to Change Research Institute) as an Associate Fellow of both Newcastle University and the Social Design Institute, University of the Arts London. 

Research Interests

My main research interest is in how the austerity policies of central government have affected local governments across England, and the (uneven) impact this has had on the provision of cultural services.

Within this context, I am particularly interested in the growth of different delivery models (trusts and community-led asset transfers, for example) and approaches to income generation as well as museum closures. In addition to understanding the cause/s of these changes, I am interested in the ways that prevailing ideas (especially dominant professional discourses and historical ideas) have shaped contemporary debate about the impact of austerity on publicly subsidized museums as well as how these changes are interpreted and experienced by cultural practitioners.

More broadly, I have research interests in the cultural policies of local, national and transnational governments and the relationship between rhetorical shifts and ‘actual’ changes to resource allocation and decision making and the shifting parameters of public/private and commercial/non-commercial interests in the cultural sector.

I have published on a range of topics linked to these interests including practices of decision-making about cultural spending in local authorities and the role of standards in shaping the negotiation of professional identity in museums.

PhD supervision

I welcome proposals for the supervision of PhD students who would like to work on projects related to my research interests.

Publications

Articles and Chapters

Rex, B. 2019. ‘Which museums to fund? Examining local government decision-making in austerity’ Local Government Studies. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/03003930.2019.1619554

Rex, B. 2019. ‘Public museums in a time of crisis: The case of museum asset transfer’ Journal of Community Archaeology & Heritage. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/20518196.2019.1688265

Rex, B. 2019. ‘New Business Models in EU Cultural Policy: The History of a (Dangerous?) Idea’, in Models to Manifestos, ed. by S. Fitzgerald (Dublin: Olivearte Cultural Agency), pp. 85-93. Available online: https://creativelenses.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Creative-Lenses-Models-to-Manifestos-V2.pdf

Galani, A., Mason, R. & Rex, B. 2019. ‘Dialogues and heritages in the digital public sphere’, in European Heritage, Dialogue and Digital Practices, ed. by A. Galani, R. Mason, G. Arrigoni (London: Routledge), pp. 109-121.

Galani, A., Arrigoni, G. Mason, R. & Rex, B. 2019. ‘Introduction: locating heritage and dialogue in digital culture’, in European Heritage, Dialogue and Digital Practices, ed. by A.Galani, R. Mason, G. Arrigoni (London: Routledge), pp. 1-8.

Rex, B. 2018. ‘Exploring Relations to Documents and Documentary Infrastructures: The Case of Museum Management After Austerity’, Museum and Society, 16 (2): 187-200. Available online: https://journals.le.ac.uk/ojs1/index.php/mas/article/view/2781/2620

Rex, B. 2018. ‘Special Issue Editorial: Methodologies for Researching the Museum as Organization’, Museum and Society, 16 (2): 112-123. Available online: https://journals.le.ac.uk/ojs1/index.php/mas/article/view/2810

Rex, B. ‘Community Managed Museums: an adventure without a map’, Garageland: Society Issue (2015), pp. 4-5

Research Reports

Rex, B., Kaszynska, P and Kimbell, L. 2019. ‘Business Models for Arts and Cultural Organisations: Research Findings from Creative Lenses’. Available online: http://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/14392/1/Creative-Lenses-Research-Findings.pdf

Special Issues

Museum Organisations: Methodological Openings for Museum Studies, guest editor, special issue of Museum and Society, co-edited with Nuala Morse and Sarah Richardson (2018).

Invited Opinion Pieces

‘Can modesty be the key to saving our smaller museums as government cuts hit local councils?’ Museums and Heritage Advisor. (2015). URL: http://advisor.museumsandheritage.com/blogs/can-modesty-key-saving-smaller-museums

‘Who runs local authority museums and how are they surviving the funding crisis?’ The Guardian (2015). URL https://www.theguardian.com/public-leaders-network/2015/jul/10/who-runs-local-museums-surviving-funding-crisis

‘Absent Friends: A commentary on the ‘What Next?’ movement’ Arts Professional (2013). URL: http://www.artsprofessional.co.uk/magazine/blog/absent-friends

Guidance

'Successfully Taking Over Your Local Museum’ The Association of Independent Museums Success Guides (2018). URL https://www.aim-museums.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/V-5-Successfully-Taking-Over-Your-Local-Museum-2018-6.pdf

 Grants and awards

  • Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, University of Warwick (2019-2022)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Creative Economy Engagement Fellowship, University of the Arts London (2018)
  • Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty Excellence in Research Prize, Newcastle University (2014)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Doctoral Training Award (2013-2017)
  • University of East Anglia School of World Art and Museology Scholarship (2012-2013)

Professional associations

  • Associate Fellow of Advance HE (formerly the Higher Education Academy)
  • Association of Critical Heritage Studies