Abi is a Co-Investigator on the UEP project, leading the Manchester-Salford case study.
I have been a Senior Lecturer in Arts Management and Cultural Policy and part of the Institute for Cultural Practices at University of Manchester since 2009. My research focuses on local cultural policy, participation and evaluation, and involves practice-based, collaborative initiatives with cultural partners to inform teaching, knowledge exchange and public engagement. Alongside Understanding Everyday Participation, current projects include an AHRC research network Beyond the Campus: Higher Education and the Creative Economy and the NESTA/Arts Council England/AHRC Digital R&D Fund for the Arts project, Culture Metrics , where I lead the research team working with a large consortium of cultural partners looking at measures of quality for arts experiences.
I have published in Cultural Trends and the International Journal of Cultural Policy, and also produced a number of commissioned reports and policy papers evaluating arts programming and policy. Prior to a return to ‘the academy’, I was the Director of the Northwest Cultural Observatory, a regional QuANGO responsible for coordinating research and evaluation with arts and cultural agencies. Before that I had a number of research and teaching posts in cultural studies, sociology and communications studies. I am on the Advisory Board for Cultural Trends, and also Trustee for two small but agile Manchester-based cultural organisations, Brighter Sound and Small Things.
For UEP, I am contributing to the ‘Histories’ research in relation to the performance measurement of cultural value and participation, through a recent history of cultural indicators. With the historian Patrick Doyle, I am also exploring the local history of parks and green spaces in Manchester and Salford, in relation to understanding and co-production of local policy making from the nineteenth century to the present day. I have lead responsibility for the website and online communications, working with Susan Oman.
My interest in the emerging findings of UEP lies in the different forms of knowledge and situated practices of decision-making which concern cultural resources and asset management at local and neighbourhood levels, and how these are shaped by the local structures of feeling and characteristics of the locales themselves. I’m particularly interested in how the research in Cheetham and Broughton challenges dominant contemporary discourses of cultural policies for participation, interrogating what they are and who they are for. In 2015 I will be exploring this further through a participatory follow-on project with Manchester Jewish Museum and Public Works on co-producing social infrastructure, platforms for debates and programming in Cheetham Park.
Like most people with a doctorate in cultural policy and popular music, I am an ex-archaeologist, failed professional musician (Irish covers band) and amateur cultural programmer. My everyday participation mainly consists of emailing whilst walking to the station, watching University Challenge with my kids, and neglecting my dog. In a flush of aspiration I’ve recently taken up the ‘cello.
Abi’s UEP blog contributions include:
Making an everyday case for arts and culture, featuring her policy paper (right)