Bethany Rex holds a PhD in Museum and Heritage Studies from Newcastle University. Her PhD research – ‘Local Authority Museums After the Cuts: A Study of Other-than-Public Forms of Management’ investigated the application of community asset transfer to local authority museums in England, in the contemporary context of austerity (2008-). Since completing her doctorate, she has since worked as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant and now Research Fellow at the University of the Arts London. Bethany is also a Visiting Research Associate in Media, Culture, Heritage at Newcastle University.
Her research is rooted in the budget reductions introduced as part of UK austerity measures and how these developments have intensified pre-existing demands associated with the ‘creative industries’ policy paradigm. Working at the intersection of museum and heritage studies and cultural policy, Bethany works with cultural sector professionals to understand how they negotiate the demands placed on them, by themselves and others, and the questions they raise for professional values, particularly public sector ethics. Her aim is to draw out the implications for how cultural organisations of various types function and how they picture and pursue their societal roles. Her doctorate explored these questions in relation to local authority museums, with her current work on the Creative Lenses project investigating similar issues in a range of European contexts.
She works with methodologies and epistemologies that reveal the everyday aspects of work in the cultural sector, specifically the relational materiality associated with actor-network theory. Her focus is on the relationship between people and those policies and administrative processes that have become a central part of professional cultural work. Bethany uses this approach to understand how these encounters contribute to the emergence and maintenance of order and identity construction processes, as well as inform possibilities for change.