The artist Emilia Telese has been selected for the Warwick University and a-n Collaborative Doctorate Award (CDA). The three-year research project will look at artist-led contributions to the cultural value agenda in order to develop theory, methods and policy insight.

Telese will explore artist-led experimental initiatives, identifying their wider implications within practice-based and cultural policy settings. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), as part of her research Telese will have full access to a-n’s archive – a rich body of data, evidence and analysis of artist-led initiatives from 1980 to the present.

Originally from Italy and now based in Brighton, Telese is a cross-discipline artist whose practice includes interactive and body-responsive technology, film and live art, installation, literature and public art. From 2004-2011 she led a-n’s NAN (Networking Artists’ Networks) initiative.

“The cultural economy wouldn’t exist without individual artists,” she said. “Artwork and other creative products and endeavours created by skilled and experienced individuals contribute £8m an hour to the UK economy, according to a 2014 DCMS report, which specifically identifies the creative industries as originating from the work of individual creativity”.

Value of artists

Susan Jones, a-n’s outgoing director, will co-supervise the studentship with Warwick University’s Dr Eleonora Belfiore. She said: “We collaborated with Warwick University to secure AHRC funding for this CDA because the research topic is in direct support of a-n’s mission – to stimulate and support contemporary visual arts practice and affirm the value of artists in society.

“We recognise that the pivotal value of the artist or practice-led is often unrecognised by cultural and arts policy-makers, whose metrics and judgements about value are premised on quantifying the impact of traditional institutional and building-based models such as galleries and museums.”

Belfiore added: “What has emerged powerfully from our joint consultations with practitioners to date is the under-representation of artists’ perspectives within the current research and policy debate around cultural value. This is in spite of the richness of thought, debate, exchange and collaborative practice in those areas within the practitioner communities involved in these scoping discussions.”

The question of cultural value within cultural policy has become increasingly prominent since the 2008 economic crash and this new doctorate is the latest development in a series of collaborations. Initially created through Belfiore’s Cultural Values initiative – an online platform and curated blog discussing research and public engagement initiatives on the theme of cultural value – the pair also collaborated to deliver the Dangerous Ground: reframing cultural value consultations.


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