I am a public engagement professional, academic and curator based in London. I also occasionally produce artworks of my own – a practice that I write about and document on this site.
I completed my PhD in Critical Theory at the University of Nottingham in 2012. Since then I have lectured at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and currently work as Public Engagement Manager and Cultural Contexts Research Fellow at the School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London.
Over the years I have led numerous arts projects working with cultural and community partners, including the AHRC-funded research project ‘Bloomsbury Festival in a Box: engaging socially isolated people with dementia’. I currently manage and curate Being Human – the UK’s only national festival of the humanities.
From a primarily literary focus during my PhD – which explored ideas of artistic community in the ‘communitarian’ era of New Labour – I moved to applied projects in the field of arts and health working with Arts on Prescription activities in Nottingham.
In 2013 I came to London to take up an AHRC-funded Cultural Engagement fellowship with the School of Advanced Study and the Bloomsbury Festival. This resulted in the Ministry of Communication, a five-day mini festival at Senate House, University of London in October 2013.
Also in 2013 I was awarded a research development grant by the AHRC’s Cultural Value Project. Working with the Bloomsbury Festival and with Age UK Camden, between 2013-2014 I acted as Principal Investigator on Bloomsbury Festival in a Box: engaging socially isolated people with dementia. This project developed and analysed a pilot cultural outreach programme for people living with dementia in Camden. This led to dissemination events at Luminate: Scotland’s Festival of Creative Ageing, and to an exhibition at the Leeds College of Art. The ‘Festival in a Box’ is now an embedded part of the Bloomsbury Festival’s year round outreach activity.
My current focus of activity is curating and managing Being Human – the UK’s only national festival of the humanities. I helped establish this festival in 2014, and it now takes place annually at venues across the UK. In 2016 the Being Human featured over 250 events in 45 towns and cities across the UK.
‘Festival in a Box’: Development and qualitative evaluation of an outreach programme to engage socially isolated people with dementia. Dementia: the international journal of social research and practice. (2016).
Bloomsbury Festival in a Box: engaging socially isolated people with dementia. Final Project Report to AHRC. (2014).
Arts on Prescription: a qualitative longitudinal outcomes study (co-authored with Dr Theodore Stickley). Public Health. (2013).
The Communality of the Underdeck-Dirty Pretty Surrealism. Sample chapter from PhD thesis. (2012).
‘Cells, Recesses, Tombs: Vertiginous Spaces in Bataille’s Le Bleu du ciel’. MHRA Working Papers in the Humanities, Vol. 4.(2009).
Tensions between the everyday and the exceptional. Arts Professional. (2018).
Being Human and the British Academy. Guest blog for the British Academy. (2017).
Kindred Spirits? University/ cultural partnerships. Arts Professional. (2016).
Still Invited to the Party: Festival in a Box. Arts Professional. (2016).
Festival in a Box: archives. Talking Humanities (blog). (2015).
Secret Diary of Bloomsbury. Bloomsbury Festival. October (2017).
Festival in a Box: Archives. Leeds College of Art. September-December (2015).
Ministry of Hope and Fear (2016). Programme of events, installations and exhibitions forming the London hub of the national Being Human festival. Included over 20 distinct activities drawing on expertise from across the University of London.
Hacking the Archives. (2014-2015). Digital media installation. ACE-funded project in collaboration with the Mass Observation archive, Ministry of Information Project, Salt Road, and D-Fuse. (Curator/producer).
Small Global: Extreme Energy. (2013-2014). Digital media installation. ACE-funded project in collaboration with D-Fuse and the Extreme Energy Initiative (SAS). (Curator/ prodcuer).
Shadows of Nottingham Life. (2013). Digital media installation. ACE-funded project in collaboration with Nottingham Museums and Galleries and the Media Archive for Central England (MACE). (Curator/producer).
Annexinema: Alternative Realities and Spatial Explorations. (2011). Public engagement event in collaboration with arts collective Annexinema, featuring a curated film prorgamme on the theme of ‘Spaces of Alterity’ and appearance from author China Mieville. (Curator/producer).
Details and images from all the projects above, and others, can be accessed in my Project Archive.
‘Being Human festival: interview with Michael Eades’. Research Comms Podcast.
‘Festivals Can Be A First Step on the Career Ladder‘. Interview with Research Fortnight.
I am on the advisory boards for a number of interdisciplinary arts and research projects, including:
‘Telling the Bees’ (AHRC funded research project)
‘Playing the Archive’ (EPSRC funded research programme)
‘Childhoods and Play’ (British Academy Research Project)
Being Human Festival – www.beinghumanfestival.org
Festival in a Box: Open Archives – www.festivalinabox.blogs.sas.ac.uk