Michael Eades

Contact details

Michael Eades
Public Engagement Manager and Research Fellow
School of Advanced Study
School of Advanced Study, University of London, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
+44 (0)20 7862 8693
Email address:

Research Summary and Profile

Research interests:
Culture, English Literature
Research keywords:
Cultural and Literary Theory; Public Engagement; Arts and Health
England, United Kingdom
Summary of research interests and expertise:

I am the School of Advanced Study’s Public Engagement Manager and Cultural Contexts Research Fellow. The main part of my job lies in overseeing public engagement activity within the School, initiating cultural partnerships and projects, and managing and curating the national Being Human festival of the humanities.


My research interests intersect with my professional practice (and vice-versa). In broad terms, all my work explores what I call the ‘cultural politics of cultural practice’. I am interested in the structures, intuitions and social contexts in which cultural/artistic practice takes place, particularly in relation to collaboration and ideas of artistic community. A lot of my work has explored festivals of various kinds, but I am also interested in galleries, museums, archives, funding and policy infrastructures.

Increasingly I’m interested in activity that happens on the fringes of mainstream cultural infrastructure and which challenges its boundaries. For example I’m interested in projects that are self-organised, un-funded, and/or which set up their own experiments in cultural infrastructure. Small museums, micro-galleries, home archives, self-publishing, outsider artists, collectors, community art activity and art collectives are all of interest.  I’m fascinated by how such projects sit in relation to the structures that surround them, the motivations of the people behind them, and how they connect to wider publics.  I’m also interested in how people have attempted to find cultural spaces and ways of working that are more conducive to health and participation.  

Current work

At the moment I am filtering these interests primarily through a number of curatorial and practice-based projects in Bloomsbury. An area synonymous with ideas of artistic community (from the Pre-Raphelite Brotherhood to the Bloomsbury Set, the Vorticists to the Independent Group) Bloomsbury is also  a suggestive crucible in which to interrogate the conditions of contemporary collaborative practice.

Between 2013-2014 I was PI on the AHRC-funded project Bloomsbury Festival in a Box: engaging socially isolated people with dementia. Part of the AHRC’s Cultural Value project, this initiative established a 'cultural meals on wheels' service for people living with dementia in collaboration with UCL, Age UK and the Bloomsbury Festival (ongoing as of 2019).

Under the umbrella of Being Human festival and other initiatives, I’ve curated programmes and art commissions that draw directly on my research into the history of Bloomsbury. Examples include 'The Ministry of Hope and Fear' in 2016 and ‘The Ministry of Communication’ in 2013 (AHRC funded).

More recently I have worked on 'The Secret Diary of Bloomsbury', an experiment in self-sustaining literary infrastructure at locations across WC1. Alongside Festival in a Box, I see this as part of an ongoing series of practice-based ‘research experiments’ that explore problems of cultural infrastructure by recreating structures on a micro-scale.

I am available to form part of a supervisory team for graduate students, and would be happy to hear from anyone researching in areas aligned to the interests outlined above.

I'd also be very happy to hear from any cultural practitioners, community groups, institutions, etc, who may want to explore possibilities for collaborations with the School of Advanced Study for the Being Human festival or any other projects.

Publication Details

Related publications/articles:

Date Details
20-Jul-2016 ‘Festival in a Box’: Development and qualitative evaluation of an outreach programme to engage socially isolated people with dementia

Journal articles

25-Jun-2015 Bloomsbury Festival in a Box: engaging socially isolated people with dementia. Final Report.

Research aids

 Final project report to AHRC

27-Jul-2013 Arts on Prescription: a qualitative longitudinal outcomes study

Journal articles

Research Projects & Supervisions

Research projects:

Bloomsbury Festival in a Box: engaging socially isolated people with dementia

Between August 2013 and May 2014 I was PI on the AHRC-funded research project Bloomsbury Festival in a Box: engaging socially isolated people with dementia. This project researched, implemented and analysed a pilot scheme for engaging people with dementia in the arts. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the two-year Cultural Value Project, the project was a collaboration between the School of Advanced Study, University of London, University College London, the Bloomsbury Festival, and Age UK Camden.

At its core, the project sought to create a miniature and peripatetic version of the Bloomsbury Festival–an arts festival based in central London–that would be tailored to the needs of people living with dementia and would allow them to share insights into their lives in the area. ‘Archives’ of the engagement process were collected for each participant, and their contents analysed via a multi-disciplinary narrative research framework.

Professional Affiliations

Professional affiliations:

Name Activity
Telling the Bees (AHRC Funded Research Project) Advisory Board Member
Playing the Archive (EPSRC Funded Research Project) Advisory Board Member
Relevant Events

Related events:

Date Details
01-Feb-2017 Being Human festival of the humanities

My current focus of activity is curating and managing Being Human – the UK’s only national festival of the humanities. I helped establish this festival in 2014, and it now takes place annually at venues across the UK. In 2016 the Being Human featured over 250 events in 45 towns and cities across the UK, organised by over 70 universities and research organisations. 

01-Sep-2015 Festival in a Box: Archives

Exhibition at the Leeds College of Art displaying research outputs and orginal artworks developed as part of the 'Bloomsbury Festival in a Box' project. The exhibition was aimed primarily at stucdents and practitioners at the start of their careers and was seen by around 2,000 people in autumn/winter 2015. 

01-May-2014 Festival in a Box: sharing knowledge on dementia and the arts

Project dissemintaion/knowledge share day for the Bloomsbury Festival in a Box Project . The day provided an environment in which the lessons learned from our project could be contextualised in relation to the broader landscape of arts and health projects working with people with dementia. Podcasts of talks from the day are available here: https://festivalinabox.blogs.sas.ac.uk/outputs/


23-Oct-2013 Ministry of Communication

Curatorial project at the School of Advanced Study funded by the AHRC’s Cultural Engagement Fund Pilot Scheme. For this project I curated a programme of events and original art commissions for the Bloomsbury Festival in October 2013. The project was designed to act as a catalyst for public engagement activity in the University of London, and to help the School of Advanced Study to reassess its place in relation to the cultures, histories and communities of its immediate civic milieu. The programme featured speakers including Will Self, Iain Sinclair, Andrew Motion and Ruth Padel, contributions from across the School's research institutes, and four original art commissions - one funded by an additional grant from the Arts Council of England. Outputs are archived here: www.michaeleades.net/2013/10/02/ministry-of-communication-bloomsbury-festival-2013/

Other editing/publishing activities:

Date Details
2018 Tensions Between the Everyday and the Extraordinary

 Article for Arts Professional 

2018 Sex, solitude and secrets: what we learnt from Londoners’ anonymous diaries

 Media publication in iNews, with Elizabth Dearnley. 

2017 Being Human and the British Academy

Invited guest blog for the British Academy 

2016 Kindred Spirits? University/ cultural partnerships.

 Article for Arts Professional

2016 Still Invited to the Party?

 Article for Arts Professional

2014 Being Human: A new forum for engagement with the humanities

Guest blog for the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement. 

Consultancy & Media
Available for consultancy:
Media experience:
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