Find out more about the people that make up the Institute for Cultural Practices.
We, the staff of the Department of Art History and Cultural Practices at the University of Manchester, abhor racism and are committed to redressing the issues of discrimination and racialised disadvantage within our disciplines and our own teaching and research practice, and to decolonising our curriculum. We are determined to produce a departmental culture which welcomes and supports BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and disabled students and staff, and where everyone is equally recognised and can flourish.
Dr Kostas Arvanitis - Senior Lecturer in Museology and ICP Director
Kostas has a MA and PhD in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester and a first degree in History and Archaeology from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. His research interests cross the fields of museology, archaeology, cultural heritage, and digital media. His expertise lies in the area of Digital Heritage that includes the theory and practice of digital technology in museums, galleries and heritage sites.
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Dr Jenna Ashton - Lecturer in Heritage Studies
Jenna is an experienced curator and producer, working in the areas of heritage, arts, participation, public space, social movements and activism. She is passionate about embedding inclusive practices and co-production methods in the arts and heritage sectors. She has an MA and PhD in Art History and Visual Studies from The University of Manchester. Jenna is also the Founder and Creative Director of Digital Women's Archive North – a Manchester-based feminist arts and heritage organisation addressing social inequalities through creative archiving and documentation.
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Dr Victoria Barker - Research Associate - Creative Economy
Victoria’s research focuses on the creative and cultural industries, place and community, and related policy and support. This draws on cultural policy and practice, entrepreneurship and economic geography. Victoria’s PhD from Coventry University explored the creative ecosystem and micro-enterprises, and she has an MA in Creative and Media Enterprises from the University of Warwick. Her research draws on this background, alongside her experience in public sector management and arts evaluation.
Dr Andrew Hardman - Lecturer in Cultural Practices
Andrew has worked in the creative industries for over twenty years. His research explores the representation, theory and practice of creative production. During his PhD (in art history and visual cultures at Manchester) he formed a production company with two fellow researchers. Their filmmaking, for cultural organisations across the UK, specialises in archival research, documenting cultural practices, and co-producing film as a means of developing audiences and participation with collections and places.
Dr Abigail Gilmore - Senior Lecturer in Arts Management
Abigail established the MA Arts Management, Policy and Practice at University of Manchester and works with colleagues in the Institute on other taught and research programmes. Her background is in sociological research on cultural policy, beginning with a PhD in Popular Culture and Society at the University of Leicester. Her research now focuses on local cultural management, participation and the different forms of knowledge and evidence used to measure and understand cultural value.
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Dr Emma Martin - Lecturer in Museology
Emma has worked as a curator of ethnography and decorative arts for nearly 20 years, specialising in South Asia, the Himalaya and Tibet. She is leading a new research network called Object Lessons from Tibet and the Himalaya, which aims to bring researchers and museums from across Europe together with members of the Tibetan diaspora for the purpose of sharing and collaborating on Tibet and Himalaya collections-based research.
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Dr Simon Parry - Lecturer in Drama and Arts Management
Simon has managed and evaluated a number of arts and education projects across the UK and Europe. He has a BA in Modern Languages (Nottingham), MA in Text and Performance Studies (King’s College London / Royal Academy of Dramatic Art), and a PhD in Drama (Royal Holloway University of London). His research interests include the arts in education, engagements between contemporary science and the arts, activist performance and approaches to arts evaluation.
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Dr Catherine Roberts - Lecturer in Cultural Practices
Catherine has a MA in English Literary Culture and a PhD in Tourism Studies from the University of Central Lancashire. A practitioner in regional and national museum learning programmes for over 15 years, Catherine has undertaken project consultancy for UK and European heritage and education projects. Her research interests and practice relate to experiential learning, placemaking and psychologised readings of visitor experience in dissonant/difficult heritage environments.
Dr Leandro Valiati - Lecturer in Arts and Cultural Management
Leandro started his career in Brazil as a professor and policy advisor in Creative Industries and Economy of Culture, creating and leading the most representative policy-oriented academic centre on CCIs. In the past years, he has been working in academic positions and as board member in policy institutions in Spain, France and the UK. His research interests are Culture and Socioeconomic Development, Cultural Policy and Multidimensional Impact of Arts.
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Dr Biyun Zhu - Lecturer in Arts and Cultural Management
Biyun has a PhD in Cultural Policy and Arts Management from The Ohio State University and a MA in Public Policy from King’s College London. Her research draws on knowledge from multiple disciplines including public policy, international relations, history, and management. She uses cultural policy as a lens to investigate issues in broader fields such as arts organisation governance, creative industries, cultural diplomacy, and soft power.
Prof Helen Rees Leahy - Professor in Museology
Prior to coming to Manchester, Helen worked as a curator and museum director for over 12 years, and organised numerous exhibitions of fine art and design. She has published on topics relating to art museums, art exhibitions, the art market and art criticism, and is interested in supervising research in these areas. Her work has explored practices of individual and institutional collecting, past and present, in both and in relation to questions of patronage, display and interpretation.
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Dr Maria Balshaw CBE – Director of Tate (formerly Director of the Whitworth, University of Manchester and Manchester City Galleries)
Maria succeeded Sir Nicholas Serota as Director of Tate in June 2017. Previously, as Director of The Whitworth and Manchester City Galleries, she was responsible for the artistic and strategic vision for each gallery. Maria was also Director of Culture for Manchester City Council. In 2014 Maria was appointed as a board member of Arts Council England and in June 2015 she was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours for services to the arts.
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Alistair Hudson - Director of the Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery and Honorary Professor of Useful Art
Alistair Hudson was appointed Director of The Whitworth and Manchester Art Galleries in February 2018. He was educated at Goldsmiths’ College, London and has previously worked at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Grizedale Arts, The Government Art Collection and Anthony d’Offay Gallery London. He is co-director of the Asociación de Arte Útil with Tania Bruguera, an expanding international project and online archive that promotes art as a tool for social change.
Visit the Whitworth's website
Dr Nick Merriman - Director of the Horniman Museum and Gardens
Nick Merriman was appointed Director of the Manchester Museum in March 2006. He has focused the Manchester Museum mission on promoting understanding between cultures and working towards a sustainable world and has overseen the refurbishment of most of the Museum’s permanent galleries. He led the Museum’s major capital project to build a new temporary exhibition space and a permanent gallery on South Asia in partnership with the British Museum. In 2018 Nick was appointed Director of the Horniman Museum and Gardens.
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Esme Ward - Director of The Manchester Museum and Honorary Professor of Heritage Futures
Esme was appointed Director of Manchester Museum in April 2018 and is the first woman to hold that position in its 127-year history. Prior to this, she was Head of Learning and Engagement at Manchester Museum and the Whitworth. She holds an MA in French Revolutionary Culture and Theory. In 2016-17 she was a Fellow on the Clore Cultural Leadership programme. Esme is the Strategic Lead (culture) for Age-Friendly Manchester and the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub. She is co-curator of the Arts, Health and Social change programme the World Health Congress 2019-20.
View Esme's profile on the Manchester Museum website
Honorary Research Fellows
Dr Susan Oman
Susan Oman is an AHRC Creative Economy Engagement Fellow looking at Data, Diversity and Inequality in the Sheffield Methods Institute, University of Sheffield. Susan completed her interdisciplinary PhD, based in Sociology at the University of Manchester, investigating the cultural politics of participation and well-being in the context of metrics and knowledge production. Susan was recently awarded an Honorary fellowship to the Institute of Cultural Practices at University of Manchester in recognition of her work on research methods and work in the cultural sector.
Dr Virginia Tandy OBE
Virginia Tandy has a PhD from the University of Manchester. The first Director of Culture for Manchester City Council (2008-2011) and the first female Director of Manchester City Galleries (1998-2008), she was a trustee of the Heritage Lottery Fund from 2009-2015. A former President of the Museums Association and the founder of the Women Leaders in Museums network, she is a member of the board of National Museums Liverpool, chairs Curious Minds, sits on the Fabric Committee for St Paul’s Cathedral and is a trustee of the Granada Foundation.
Dr Roaa Ali
Roaa is a researcher and educator with a growing research profile in race and the cultural industries, access inequality and the politics of minoritised cultural production. She is a Research Associate at the Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) at the University of Manchester. Currently, she is researching racial and ethnic inequality in the Creative and Cultural Industries at the intersection of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Movement.
Dr Sophie Everest, Lecturer in Documentary Film Making
Sophie is Lecturer in Film Practice in the Drama Department and Co-Director of Belle Vue, a film production and creative research company. Sophie started her career in television production at the BBC. Her practice uses film as a tool to capture and initiate relationships between people, objects and cultural practice within museums, archives and heritage spaces. Underpinning her research is a commitment to film as a socially engaged practice that invites collaboration and co-creation.
Helen is responsible for audience research at Manchester Museums Partnership, comprising the Whitworth, Manchester Art Gallery and Manchester Museum. Helen leads on the collection and analysis of public engagement research data and co-ordinates research partnerships with HEIs and other bodies. Research interests include: inequalities and cultural participation; the civic role of museums; open data on cultural participation; and ‘data practice’ as an emergent area of arts management professional practice.
Dr Rebecca Taylor
Rebecca has designed experiential marketing campaigns for global brands and developed design management and advertising degree programmes. Rebecca has a PhD and MRes in Digital Innovation (Lancaster University), MA in Enterprise and Management for the Creative Arts (University of the Arts, London) and BDes in Design Futures (Edinburgh Napier University). Rebecca supervises postgraduate students in Digital Media Management and Experience Design. An activist for green space in urban areas, her research interests include research through design and community activism.
Dr Liz Thomas
Liz has a BA in Heritage Studies, an MA in Archaeology and a PhD in Historical Archaeology and has recently completed her British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship on the subject of ‘Sailortown’, a docklands area of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Liz has successfully led numerous community driven projects and is a founding member of Buildings in Society International (BISI). Her research interests include, heritage, contested spaces, oral histories, institutions, identity and memory.