Through research and writing, I reconsider what we mean when we talk about ‘cultural value’.
Until recently, cultural policy has been built on very narrow understandings of the social impact of the arts. Debates have oscillated between simple participant quotients, limited evidence of economic and instrumental ‘benefits’, and inflated claims of intrinsic transformation. By viewing value as a process, I study how people actually find meaning in media and the arts:
- How do people connect with different cultural texts?
- How do creative practitioners and arts organisations work to engage their audiences?
- How do these experiences fit into or conflict with participants’ senses of self, their feelings of community and belonging, and their understandings of place and heritage?
My work is part of the contemporary drive to evaluate impact. But instead of reducing audiences to simple statistics, my approach maps people’s engagements with culture in all their complexity.
My approach is multi-method and responsive. Whether I’m using questionnaires or interviews, focus groups or creative ‘participatory’ methods, I position audiences as the experts of their own experiences. My research is interdisciplinary, ranging from site-specific theatre to arts festivals, and from applied drama to stand-up comedy - though I have a particular interest in the connections between people, performance, and place. I work with partners from local communities to government agencies, and aim to break down barriers between academia and industry – I believe that research should travel outside universities, and balance scholarly publications with more accessible kinds of output.
I have developed collaborative networks and worked with partners including:
National Theatre Wales (NTW)
Bloodaxe Books & Midland Creative Projects
Arts Council of Wales
Theatre & Performance Research Association (TaPRA)
Cultural Solutions UK
I am part of a new interdisciplinary project on musical theatre communities in translation with Portsmouth University, currently seeking AHRC funding, and Chair of the Performing Audience Research Network.
|TaPRA 2015: Performance & New Technology WG||Sept 2015||‘You Get Lost in the Video’: Audience, Location and Memory in Outdoors|
|Redefining Theatre Communities, Malta||Sept 2015||‘Local’ Theatre for ‘Local’ People: Community Involvement and National Theatre|
|Musical Theatre Fan Communities Symposium||May 2015||Smashing YouTube & Kickstarting Bombshell. Or: “EVERYONE STOP COMPLAINING AND ENJOY THE FLAPPING MUSIC!”|
|Cultural Values in Wales & Beyond||Jan 2013||Finding Value in National Theatre Wales|
|TaPRA: Identity & Community WG||Sep 2012||Promenade Performance and the ‘Tyranny of Participation’|
|Performance Studies international (PSi) 18||May 2012||‘The Only Welsh Thing was Preparing for it to Rain’: (How) Does National Identity Really Matter?|
|AWWE Performing Wales: Theatre, Art, Identity||Mar 2012||Audiences as Citizens of the World|
|The Audience Through Time||Dec 2011||The Long Development and New Audiences of National Theatre Wales|
|Relation & Participation||May 2011||Universalism, Localness and National Identity in The Persians|
|Journeys Across Media||May 2011||Site-Specific Performance and For Mountain, Sand & Sea|
Ten years working in professional office environments has given me significant administrative and event management experience. In previous positions I have been responsible for running community events, managing photography exhibitions and creative writing competitions, and organising dozens of events per year. I also co-organised the academic conference Relation & Participation (May 2011, Aberystwyth University). This event included speakers such as Patrick Primavesi, John E. McGrath (National Theatre Wales), Lone Twin and Rimini Protokoll. In addition to the live conference, presentations and practical sessions were streamed on the conference website and gathered thousands of international views.