Bethany Rex | Barcelona | September 28, 2019

During my time at Faber, I travelled to Barcelona to speak with two fellow researchers working on the changing management and financial arrangements surrounding public museums and cultural spaces in the context of austerity and broader reform to local government services and functions across several European countries.  We spoke about the challenges of researching what is an emerging phenomenon, and the benefits and limitations of different methodological approaches. We also had the chance to discuss the negotiation of our own positionality in relation to our research topics and we ended up sketching a model of research practice based on working across multiple levels – for instance, at the grassroots level, to understand the finer detail of how people experience change in the cultural sector as well as at the level of policy, to investigate how the austerity and political context is addressed in the policy of government departments and agencies. This was a fortuitous opportunity to connect with researchers working on similar issues in contexts where what we know as ‘austerity’ has been formulated differently, and to appreciate the common effects of this change as well as some of the contrasts.