The University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute has been awarded £358,000 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to study Shakespeare’s cultural value in the 21st Century.

The project will explore the relevance of Shakespeare and how it fits in to the culture of the 21st century in the UK. Researchers will use the RSC’s Complete Works Festival as a test case to ascertain how English literary heritage meets the different social and commercial demands made of it, with a view to informing future cultural and educational policy in this area.

Professor Kate McLuskie, Director of the Shakespeare Institute, and recipient of the award, says, ‘Arts organisations are under considerable pressure to attract new audiences and to widen access to minority groups. We want to understand how different ways of talking about Shakespeare reflect the social values of theatre practitioners and the audiences that they wish to attract. Shakespeare seen as a teacher about the evils of discrimination or the nature of love or tyranny or is he a source of pleasure or a tourist attraction?’

She continues: ‘With Shakespeare being interpreted in many different ways for different media, on television, in film and as adaptation, the cultural value of Shakespeare is changing. We need to understand these changes and their implications for public policy in the arts and education.’

Research will be carried out using academic historical and cultural studies sources, educational and arts policy documents, newspaper and magazine articles on arts, heritage and cultural policy as well as the results from focus group analysis and discussions with theatre practitioners.

The project will create a new post doctoral research fellow posts, with a background in arts and heritage management or the sociology of culture, to bring new interdisciplinary strengths to the study of the cultural value.


Notes to Editors

For further information

Kate Chapple, Press Officer, University of Birmingham, tel 0121 414 2772 or 07789 921164.