Demos is Britain’s leading cross-partisan think tank. They have spent the past 20 years at the center of wide-ranging policy debates, from the value of culture to the political importance of character. Demos produces original research, publishes innovative thinkers, and presents thought-provoking events, with an overarching mission to bring politics closer to people. This worldview is reflected in the research methods they employ, which recognize that the public often have insights that experts do not. Alongside quantitative research, Demos pioneers new forms of deliberative work, from citizens’ juries and ethnography to social media analysis.
In 2009 I served as a research fellow at Demos while completing my Master’s degree in Cultural Policy and Management. As such, I contributed to multiple projects that focused on organizational change, shifts in creative practice, placemaking, cultural value, and progressive cultural policy. This work included support for the following initiatives:
Organizations need to be efficient and innovative, but in today’s social and economic conditions, they also need to be able to respond creatively to external challenges while staying true to their core purpose. This report looks at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s journey toward achieving this. The RSC applied the principles of working in ensemble beyond the acting company to its organizational design, management structures, physical architecture, and external relations policy. Working with esteemed cultural researcher John Holden, I analyzed ways the concept could be applied to establish a more collaborative model of creative leadership and organizational development. I used quantitative, qualitative and ethnographic research methodologies to analyze the efficacy of this approach, and methods in which alternative organizational change metrics might support it. Budgets and financial planning documents were analyzed, extensive interviews performed, and local stakeholder workshops conducted to gain new insights. Statistical analyses of social networks within the RSC’s multiple locations were performed using UCINET software.
Expressive Lives—This collection of essays examines the idea of ‘expressive life’, as introduced by former NEA Chairman Bill Ivey. It proposes that cultural policy should enable citizens to take an active role in shaping their world. To do this, policy-makers across all areas of government must work with professionals and institutions within the creative sectors to enable expressive lives. I supported the publication’s launch and companion symposium, which were held at the National Opera House in London.
Resilient Places: Character and Community in Everyday Heritage—Towns, cities and landscapes are haunted by the ghosts of networks past. Disused railways and quiet canals remain leftovers from the industry and commerce of yesteryear. Too often, these are dismissed as outdated or as the parochial interests of a few. In contrast, this pamphlet argues that creative reinterpretations of place and the heritage infrastructure of the public realm can play an important part in addressing the challenges of today. I conducted research on adaptive reuse strategies for heritage infrastructure in the UK in support of this larger investigation of resilient places.