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Inaugural Arts and Culture Lecture takes place at Queen Mary

Lecture marked the start of Dr Maria Balshaw’s honorary professorship at Queen Mary University of London.

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Dr Maria Balshaw has delivered the first Arts and Culture lecture at Queen Mary. Dr Balshaw, who is Director of Tate, has taken up the role of honorary professor in the School of Business and Management.

During the lecture Dr Balshaw discussed the relevance of Arts and Culture for education and wider society. “It’s ever more important that universities and cultural organisations support creative education since it helps provide skills for life,” she said.

The politics of culture

In her lecture Dr Balshaw argued that cultural is “always political” but added that people in creative industries need to embrace this rather than avoid political conversations.

“Our cultural institutions need to be safe spaces to explore unsafe ideas. We need to step outside the echo chamber of the art world and engage with different sectors," said Dr Balshaw. “When we open up we move ourselves to a place where conversations turn into connections,” she added.

Key challenges facing the creative world

Dr Balshaw also addressed the challenges that museums are facing. Remaining culturally relevant at both a local and global level was one key challenge outlined as well as the drive to become more culturally inclusive.

Balshaw highlighted recent exhibitions about Gay Pride and Black History such as Queer and Now and Soul of a Nation, as examples of the drive towards cultural diversity at Tate.

“We have a social and ethical responsibility to connect with the widest possible audiences. If we wish for our audiences to be more diverse then we must support this diversity internally and through our collections,” she said.

Digital first

Dr Balshaw outlined some of the ways in which Tate, as well as other organisations within the cultural sphere, were innovating to make arts and culture most accessible. Developments in the digital world, according to Balshaw, allow museums to have a global reach and provide year-round programmes of activity.

More information

Download the Queen Mary Arts and Culture Strategy [PDF 17,652KB].

Find out more about Queen Mary’s new MA in Creative Industries and Arts Organisation.