Collective residencies / THE FUTURE OF CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS / Olot
From Monday, 23 September 2019 to Friday, 4 October 2019
Bethany is a Research Fellow at University of the Arts London and will take up a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at the University of Warwick in late 2019. Bethany has an interdisciplinary background crossing museum and heritage studies and cultural policy and her key interest is in exploring organisational change in state-funded arts and cultural organisations, particularly local government museums, since the introduction of austerity policies after the 2008 financial crisis. She has published on a range of topics including the way decisions are made about museum funding and the values and assumptions underpinning these choices and the management of multiple demands in mission-driven arts organisations.
During my Faber residency I am looking forward to experiencing the culture and landscape of Olot as well as learning about the thinking behind cultural policy in Catalonia. I am going to use the time and space offered by the Residency to finish writing an article that I have been working on for some time now. The article is based on my PhD research into a process called ‘community asset transfer’ which has gained popularity amongst local authorities in the UK as they look for ways to keep museums open in challenging financial circumstances. I also hope to learn about developments in cultural institutions in other contexts from the other residents.
It’s not insignificant that ‘The Magic Mountain’, a novel by Thomas Mann, became a common topic of conversation during my residency at Faber. From the sizable blankets to the curved structure of the hotel to the routines we developed as a group not to mention the hills visible from every balcony, there was surely something about ‘Faber time’ which was immediately discernible to those of us in the group who had read the novel. Just as Hans Castorp (the main character) relished in his escape from clocktime to the slower, enveloping world of the mountain, my experience at Faber was one where I was able to switch off from the world of the office, passing the time by writing an article that I had struggled to work on at home and opening my mind to the projects and perspectives of the other residents.
Although I am grateful for the opportunity to finish the article which had been on my to-do list for months, I am truly thankful to the staff at Faber and the hotel for the work that goes into organizing the Residency. Meeting and getting to know academics and practitioners from different parts of the world with a shared interest in the study of cultural institutions and their changing identity, form and function in the context of broader political, economic and social shifts was invaluable. Perhaps it could be explained by ‘mountain time’, but there was an immediate spirit of openness, generosity and dialogue during our daily discussions, and I feel incredibly privileged to have been given this opportunity to share this experience with the other residents and the team at Faber.