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Faculty of Humanities

Abi Gilmore

Challenging the institution with Abi Gilmore

Senior Lecturer in Arts Management and Cultural Policy, School of Arts, Languages and Cultures

On the brightest June day in the Art Garden of Manchester’s iconic Whitworth Gallery, Dr Abi Gilmore posed for the camera, leaving any hesitation at the door.

Lecturing in arts management conjures up visions of stark white cubes and priceless pieces to be revered in silent contemplation, but this is not the image one gets when given five minutes with Abi.

Her sociological background encourages her to critically engage with social, philosophical and historical aspects of the arts and culture and the politics of how they are managed. Critical reflection on policy and practice and collaboration with communities are ingrained in the research culture at Manchester, where initiatives such as Creative Manchester are singling the city out as a place where the arts are for everyone.

If it wasn’t happening here at Manchester, there’d be something seriously wrong with what we are hoping to do.

Abigail Gilmore / Senior Lecturer in Arts Management and Cultural Policy

“If it wasn’t happening here at Manchester, there’d be something seriously wrong with what we are hoping to do,” she said.

Abi's research explores the evidence and business cases used in arts policymaking. It questions the thinking that if you can find enough evidence of economic return from investment in the arts, there will be more down the line. Her latest project explores broader relationships with culture and the values people attach to their participation, revealing parks, pubs, football, clubs and churches, rather than theatres and galleries, as important sites.

“These places have value - they’re where communities connect and feel creative in their everyday lives,” she said. “Arts managers and policy makers need to take these values into account when making decisions".