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Dr Maria Barrett, POST Parliamentary Academic Fellowship

Widening the Pool: Engaging with More Diverse Expertise in the Cultural Field in a Covid and Post-Covid Environment

Whilst UK has a diverse society, this diversity is not reflected in the constitution of the British parliament, its MPs, peers, senior staff or the voices giving evidence to Select Committees.

During her Fellowship, Dr Maria Barrett from the Centre for Cultural and Media Policy Studies will work with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee. The DCMS is responsible for culture, sport, the building of a digital economy, and aspects of the media, such as broadcasting and the internet. Her work will involve diversifying the pool of experts who advise the Department's Select Committee.

Dr Barrett’s knowledge of the cultural industries, alongside her experience working with cultural organisations, practitioners, and audiences, and also her own work as an arts practitioner places her in a unique position to offer valuable insight for the DCMS.


Amplifying the expertise, knowledge and opinions of previously unheard voices

Her recommendations to DCMS will help to identify, build on, and recommend good practice in order to draw in a greater breadth of expertise, knowledge and opinion from previously unheard voices.

Her research will help ensure that the voices informing the UK’s cultural future are drawn from the widest social background, including working class, black, and disabled people; and that experts represent the variety of organisations, freelancers, and audiences contributing to the sector’s complex structure across the UK.

Dr Barrett will work to diversify the pool of experts who advise the DCMS.

Dr Barrett’s work with DCMS will focus on:

  • Barriers to engagement and how to overcome them

  • Encouraging self-describing of people from marginalised groups

  • Working with people from marginalised groups to instil a wider knowledge of parliament, better understanding of select committees and what engagement means.

Alongside creating a database of diverse experts for DCMS Select Committee, Dr Barrett will produce a series of live, working resources to encourage wider engagement.

These will be reviewed and learnings from them extracted to produce outputs such as reports and support tools. These can then be used for the Committee’s work across other sectors - or even by other committees.

Benefits to Parliament and the Committee

Parliament and the Select Committee will benefit from new tools designed to expand reach, leading more inclusive and better-informed engagement and consideration of issues affecting the cultural sector at this pivotal moment, and legacy systems to be built on.