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Simona Vrabcova


About me

I am a second-year Doctoral Researcher in Cultural Policy Studies. I am honoured that my research is funded through the Centre for Arts Doctoral Research Excellence (CADRE) Scholarship at the University of Warwick.

I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Music Business and Arts Management and a Master’s degree with Distinction in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship at Middlesex University London. I also graduated from the Secondary School of Performing Arts, where I predominantly trained as an actress, singer and dancer. I come from a Central European country Slovakia. Both my national background and artistic practice strongly influenced my research interest.

Research Interests

My research aim is to examine and compare the strategic management and existing structural frameworks of European National Cultural Institutes (NCIs) in Western and Central Eastern Europe (WCEE) and their approach to cultural diplomacy and nation branding. The purpose is to navigate the strategic implementation of the future structural framework for WCEE NCIs.

The research has three dimensions of value:

  1. a) disciplinary — extending cultural research and its uses in an international cultural relations context
  2. b) methodological — revising our understanding of the strategic operational frameworks and their role in the management of NCIs
  3. c) creative — scoping new ways of constructing strategy operational frameworks for high-impact cultural value production

The key research findings of Smits et al. (2016) focused on European National Cultural Institutes informs my current direction in understanding the pragmatic requirements of organisational research along with the need for engaging with organisation directors and leaders and both articulating and then evaluating their aspirations for transnational cooperation: My research will investigate how NCIs engage in promoting their own national culture and language, represent cultural brands or participate in nation branding and soft power, enhance their capacity and professional skills for intercultural dialogue, and facilitate international cultural relations involving the staging of contemporary arts, digital and new media forms.

What NCIs often lack is a strategic framework informed by theoretical research, as well as a penetrative analysis of the impact and value of their work. The research will be systematic and engaged: my research will be conducted within this framework, informed by dialogue with NCIs themselves:

  1. The organisation's current strategic planning, operations and management.
  2. Self-perceptions, evaluation and development planning.
  3. The programme, strategy delivery and cultural production.
  4. Intelligence, networks, locations and impacts.
  5. Knowledge, learning, communications and representation (the achievement of cultural diplomacy objectives and aims, informing the construction of the strategic operational framework).

Furthermore, there is a deficiency of research, especially in the area of cultural diplomacy and ICR in Central East Europe such as the Visegrad Four countries (Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary). The countries which went through major political regime changes and had to re-think not only their foreign policy priorities but also their identity as such. Limited research in this area reflects also on the response in the practice with governments lacking comprehensive strategies and giving limited interest in the development of their NCIs network.

My research project responds to this research gap and proposes the creation of a strategic operational framework that is able to (a) analyse organisational and management capabilities; (b) measure work, progress and arts or cultural programming; and (c) navigate the strategies for NCIs networks and future development — specifically in the context of individual EU countries and the UK in a post-Brexit Europe.

My supervisors are Dr Jonathan Vickery and Dr Maria Barrett.

From January 2022 until July 2022, I had an amazing opportunity to be an Intern at the Student Experience Department at Warwick, where I coordinated undergraduate student-led Interdisciplinary Arts Research Projects.


I practice my teaching skills as a Visiting Lecturer on the BA Music Business and Arts Management course at Middlesex University London. I teach selected lectures and workshops on two modules: Critical Studies in Music Business and Arts Management (3rd-year students) and Introduction to Music Industries (1st-year students).

Other Interests

Aside from academia, I am a freelance arts manager working on several projects including my independent devised theatre company Slovak Theatre in London which is a platform that gathers young artists from Central and East Europe living in London to create original theatrical productions. Our plays are provocative, vibrant, and up-to-date reflecting on our own experiences and on the present world events and issues. I am a part of Wax Collective a global platform for music and art through which I manage a musician and DJ in London and internationally. In 2021, I was a member of the project team Nitra 2026 - European Capital of Culture Candidate, where I helped my hometown to create a Fundraising Strategy for Private Sponsorship.



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