Public debate: Researching the arts - why bother?

Researching the arts - why bother?

Thursday 16 October, 7.00pm until 8.30pm, Weston Room, King's College's Maughan Library, Chancery Lane. WC2A 1LR
Tickets: £7.50/£5.00 Click here to buy tickets:

Do the arts have to rebrand themselves as 'useful' in order to justify public money? Is there any role for arts research that simply adds to the pool of human knowledge but with no immediate purpose for contemporary society? A period like ours, when government is obsessed with evidence-based policy, could be seen as a golden age for academic researchers. Research is regularly cited by ministers to back up policy; and research with practical outcomes can find funding and fame. But with research under increasing pressure to develop ideas that are 'useful' in terms of current government and corporate priorities such as economic competitiveness, social responsibility and sustainability, what is the fate of blue-skies research, let alone the 'useless knowledge' often associated with the arts and humanities?

If research and innovation have to be tailored to fulfil perceived social needs, the arts in particular can become squeezed, either defensively trying mould themselves around fashionable concerns, or sidelined as arcane, self-indulgent and irrelevant. How should we value arts and humanities research today, and who should define the criteria for such judgements?


Dr Richard Howells, director, Centre for Cultural, Media and Creative Industries Research, King's College, London; author Using Visual Evidence

Paul Glinkowski, Rootstein Hopkins Research Fellow, University of the Arts London; author Good Foundations: Trusts and Foundations and the Arts in the United Kingdom.

Professor Jonathan Bate, professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature, University of Warwick; Council member of the AHRC,Fellow, British Academy and Royal Society of Literature; author Soul of the Age: The Life, Mind and World of William Shakespeare (forthcoming).

Professor Kim Knott, professor of Religious Studies, University of Leeds; director, AHRC Diasporas, Migration and Identities Programme; author, The Location of Religion: A Spatial Analysis.

Chair: Tiffany Jenkins director, arts & society programme, Institute of Ideas.



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