Arts Emergency

Eleonora Belfiore

University Lecturer

I have always had an interest in the arts (especially literature and theatre) as well as languages, both ancient and modern. I was brought up in Sicily, Italy, where I studied classics at my local state high school. I loved those ancient poems and philosophical treaties that still felt so fresh and relevant, so I decided I would study Italian and ancient literature at university. In 1997, I was lucky enough to come to the UK as an Erasmus exchange student. I had never been in the country before, but the campus at Exeter university soon started to feel like home, so I decided to stay and complete my degree there. I then went on to do an MA in European Cultural Policy and Administration at Warwick university: I wanted to work in publishing, but also wanted to do a post-graduate degree that wasn’t purely vocational. A few internships later (one in the marketing department of the Broadway Media Centre in Nottingham and another in the communications department of IETM, an international contemporary performing arts network based in Brussels) I decided I missed academia. I enrolled for a PhD in Cultural Policy Studies, and now I am still at warwick, where I teach on the MA course I took back in 1999! My teaching focuses on the relationship between the arts and society, and I am especially interested in understanding why states get involved in culture. In particular, my work looks at how government justify spending public resources on the arts and culture. I have written about the way in which a belief in the transformative power of the arts has been a powerful driver of cultural policy in England, and how today, the economic rationale for arts funding tends to predominate. I think this is problematic, so my research effort have concentrated in creating a space for the articulation of the value of arts and culture beyond a purely economic rhetoric. I am also a firm believer in the university as a public institution, and in the potential of arts and humanities perspectives to make an active and constructive contribution to a richer cultural life, more subtle political debates and better policy-making. I feel privileged to be able to educate the next generation of critical citizens and creative workers, although the truth of the matter is that it is actually me who learns in the process of teaching them. I see teaching as facilitating student learning: I don’t know everything that there is to know on my subject, but I enjoy very much exploring complex questions of cultural politics with my students.