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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 joined the University in 2018 following a year teaching in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries at the University of Leeds, where I led modules on festivals and events, marketing, contemporary issues, and arts management at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

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. I led both Cultural Policy and the Management Research Paper, including sessions on primary and secondary research skills. This followed my role at LIPA of Head of Student Employability and Enterprise, encouraging student engagement with industry through curricular and non-curricular development. I was module leader for a large cohort module and had oversight of core provision at all levels of provision. I was also the Institute lead on Technology Enhanced Learning. I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

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 an arts consultancy I set up in 2000. Prior to this, I was Centre Director and CEO of Theatre Resource Centre North West, an organisation with a membership of 100+ theatre companies, which I ran for seven years, employing two others and fundraising/managing a budget of c.£50,000. I have worked in several theatres including being House Manager of the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool, and been 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. I have peer reviewed articles on theatre audience research for academic journals such as 'Cultural Trends' and 'Cultural Sociology'.
Last year, 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 a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA). I have acted as a peer reviewer and am now 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, as well as the Post Graduate Certificate in Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy, at the University of Leeds.

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, which aims to grow audiences and develop engagement in theatre. The programme began in September 2017 and is supported by a grant of £1.16m from Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund. Working with local partners, communities and audiences, the programme encompasses large and mid-scale touring, digital and broadcast activity, an extensive learning programme, sustained community projects with people of all ages, and an audience development research project. The research involves content analysis of policy and strategy documents, stakeholder analysis, interviews and focus groups with key stakeholder groups (including the National Theatre, the regional theatre partners, teachers, pupils, audiences, community participants and bridge organisations) and deep hanging out with audience and participant groups at the National Theatre and six regional venues.

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 for Journal of the Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism Network (Johlste) Published October 2010

Conference papers

  • 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
  • Member of the British Sociological Association
  • Member of the International Network for Audience Research in the Performing Arts (iNARPA)
  • Peer Reviewer, Cultural Sociology, Arts and the Market and Cultural Trends

Office hours

If you would like to see me please email for an appointment. I will normally respond within 24 hours.





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