New Reads

New Reads is a series of online discussions featuring new Irish research relevant to the experiences and study of cultural policy on the island of Ireland. Upcoming and past events will be featured here, but please also check out our wider reading list. Please also get in touch at to let us know about your own or other work you would like us to feature.

Mar 2023

Conflict, Austerity, and Community Arts in Northern Ireland

On 1st March 2023, Dr Kayla Rush discussed her book, The Cracked Art World: Conflict, Austerity, and Community Arts in Northern Ireland. Her talk will first outline the new analytical model set out in the book – that of the ‘cracked art world’. She will discuss how the model came to be, focusing especially on the central role played by ethnographic methods and by my own disciplinary grounding in social anthropology. She will use key findings from the book to suggest that ethnographers can provide vital grassroots insights into cultural policy making and research. Her talk is available below.

Dr Kayla Rush is an assistant lecturer in music at Dundalk Institute of Technology. An anthropologist of art, music, and performance, she is particularly interested in arts education in industry and community spaces, and the ways in which these initiatives intersect with globalisation, identity, and politics. Dr Rush received her PhD in social anthropology from Queen’s University Belfast in 2018. From 2019 to 2022, she held a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship at Dublin City University, where she conducted the first-ever study of private, extracurricular, fees-based rock and popular music schools for children and teenagers. The Cracked Art World: Conflict, Austerity, and Community Arts in Northern Ireland (Berghahn, 2022) is her first book.

Feb 2023:

The Right of People with Disabilities to Participate in Cultural Life

In this lunchtime talk, Professor Delia Ferri shared research on the potential of EU law to protect and promote the right to culture of persons with disabilities.

Professor Delia Ferri presented research from her European Research Council funded project, DANCING. The project investigates the extent to which the protection of the right to take part in culture of people with disabilities and the promotion of cultural diversity intersect and complement each other in the EU legal order.

Conducting new and mixed methods research across law and arts-based approaches, the project has realised reviews of a number of EU and Ireland policies.

Delia Ferri is a Professor of Law at Maynooth University and co-Director of the ALL Institute. She is also a member of the Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute (MUSSI), and a fellow of the Maynooth Centre for European and Eurasian Studies. She is an affiliated researcher at the Dirpolis Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (Italy) within the research cluster on social rights, social inclusion and disability, and a fellow at the Burton Blatt Institute of Syracuse University (USA). Delia is also a member of the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) Ethics, Politics, Law and Philosophy Committee, having previously been a member of the RIA Standing Committee in International Affairs (2018-2022).

Delia has published extensively in the fields of EU law and International, European and Comparative Disability Law. She has taken part in different academic research projects and policy-oriented studies. In December 2019, Delia has been awarded a prominent European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator grant of €2 million to undertake a research project entitled ‘Protecting the Right to Culture of Persons with Disabilities and Enhancing Cultural Diversity through European Union Law: Exploring New Paths’. 

Nov 2021:

Waking the Feminists Northern Ireland: ‘The Headcount’ A survey on the gender breakdown of eight Arts Council of Northern Ireland core-funded theatre companies 2014-2019 
Maggie Cronin in discussion with Dr Ali FitzGibbon

The full report is available here.

Between August 2017 and March 2019, the research group of Waking the Feminists Northern Ireland (WTFNI) undertook a survey of the gender breakdown within eight Arts Council of Northern Ireland core funded theatre companies during the time period of 2014 – 2019. Their aim was to collect data on the number of female theatre practitioners working and the types of roles they had within these companies. Please join us to reflect on (in)equality in theatre and the role and potential of research in campaign for change. In conversation with Ali FitzGibbon, Maggie Cronin will discuss the emergence of Waking the Feminists NI. This Northern movement emerged from the grassroots campaign, Waking the Feminists, started in 2015 as a call for equality for women across the Irish theatre sector. Maggie will present the approach and journey of the collaborative research and share insights from their findings. 

Maggie Cronin’s career spans many genres including TV, film, stage, radio and voice over. Previous and current professional work includes the films includes ‘Gravest Hit’, (LA Shorts International Festival & Belfast Film Festival). ‘Zone 414’, and Academy Award winning short ‘The Shore’, directed by Terry George. For theatre, she has appeared on London’s West End, New York’s Broadway and many points in between! Her first solo show, ‘A Most Notorious Woman’ won the Stewart Parker Trust/BBC Radio Drama Award (publisher: Lagan Press). As part of WTFNI’s research group she surveyed the gender breakdown in eight ACNI core funded theatres, producing the ‘Headcount’ report. Currently, Maggie is undertaking a full time Practice as Research PhD at Queen’s  University, Belfast, on the ‘Lived experiences and unique challenges facing female theatre practitioners in Northern Ireland’.

Ali FitzGibbon is a Senior Lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast and head of Arts Management and Cultural Policy. She researches decision-making, ethics and labour in contemporary cultural production. Her doctoral research on the artist as stakeholder was shortlisted for the 2020 ENCATC Research Award and she has published in a range of international journals. She has over 25 years’ experience as a multi-arts producer, programmer and consultant. She is Co-Investigator on ‘Freelancers in the Dark’ (ESRC) and ‘Future Screens NI’, part of the UK Creative Industries Clusters Programme.

Trad Nation: Gender, Sexuality, & Race in Irish Traditional Music, A joint seminar by Arts Management & Cultural Policy & Music Events at Queen’s University Belfast

Just how “Irish” is traditional Irish music? In her recent book Trad Nation: Gender, Sexuality, and Race in Irish Traditional Music, Tes Slominski uses ethnography, oral history, and archival research to challenge the longstanding practice of using ethnic nationalism as a framework for understanding vernacular music traditions. Tes Slominski argues that ethnic nationalism hinders this music’s development today and is at odds with an increasingly multiethnic Ireland. 

Following a short talk about her book, there was a Q&A chaired by Dr Ioannis Tsioulakis

Tes Slominski is a music and sound scholar who studies music, identity, and nationalism in Ireland and in its diaspora. She recently published Trad Nation: Gender, Sexuality, and Race in Irish Traditional Music, and is co-editor (with Kimberly Francis) of the gender/sexuality revision of Oxford University Press’s Grove Music Online. She served as Secretary of the Society for Ethnomusicology’s board from 2019-2021 and is currently on the board of the Ward Irish Music Archive in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

June 2021: Inequality & Racial Stratification in Ireland: Thinking about the Arts 
Dr. Ebun Joseph and Dr Francesca La Morgia 

The relationship of race to cultural production—how race is represented, but also how it is experienced and how it may serve as a source of exclusion—has been a topic of growing importance in cultural policy studies and amongst those working across the arts and cultural sThe relationship of race to cultural production—how race is represented, but also how it is sector who are seeking to make positive change. Are labels like ‘Diversity and inclusion’ and ‘Widening participation’ perpetuating inequality or a step towards change?  Sharing research from her book, Racial Stratification in Ireland: A Critical race theory of labour market inequality (Manchester University Press, 2020), Dr. Joseph discussed the operation, research, maintenance and impact of racial stratification through her study of the experiences of migrants in Ireland. While her work explores how race and class interact in our society in ways that may produce persistent inequality in the labour market, at the same time, Dr. Joseph’s framework for analysis assists us in thinking about our own role in structuring a more antiracist society.  In response, Dr. La Morgia shared insights from her experiences in the arts and cultural sector.

Dr Ebun Joseph is a Race relations consultant, Director Institute of Antiracism and Black Studies and Chairperson, African Scholars Association Ireland (AFSAI). Dr Joseph is the Coordinator and Lecturer in UCD of the first Black Studies module in Ireland.

Dr Francesca La Morgia is a linguist, researcher and social entrepreneur based in Dublin. She is the founder and director of Mother Tongues and Mother Tongues Festival.