Writing about art as if people mattered

I’m a writer and researcher, based in the UK. I’ve worked in socially engaged arts practice for almost 35 years, as an artist, producer, researcher, consultant, teacher and trustee. I’m particularly interested in how people create, receive and interact with culture. I’ve worked, published and spoken on these questions widely.

In the 1990s, the focus of my work moved towards research, and I published studies of the arts, including Use or Ornament? (1997) and Only Connect (2004), though I continued working with organisations. Much of that research has been archived and is available to download from my Academia page.

Since 2010 I’ve been connecting some of what I’ve learned through research with creative practice. Regular Marvels tries to reconcile the different ways of thinking used by academics and artists, exploring how they create knowledge and accepting the instability of that knowledge. It also tries to shape a practice that is consistent with my beliefs and values.It’s work in progress that I’m sharing here as a kind of ‘thinking in public’ for anyone who finds these questions interesting. If that includes you, do leave a comment: thinking is often improved by dialogue.

Parliament of Dreams is a sister site to this one. It covers the other side of my work (the part that pays the bills), including contracts with cultural organisations, commissioned  research, recent speeches, essays and thinking about culture in a world undergoing rapid and often difficult change.

More about Regular Marvels:

About Regular Marvels

Regular Marvels, in theory

About François Matarasso

To contact me


  1. hello, I am Lydia Margules artistic director of MUSEO DESEO ESCENA, an independent contemporary theater company stablished in Mexico City. We work must of all not only out of the main stream but out of the theaters in alternative forums or even other kind of places like galleries, Museums, old colonial building patio’s, etc.
    We are preparing at this very moment our most recent project, “Estación en movimiento (Station on the move)” a theater piece about the personal must individual and internal consequences of migration and the migration as a form of re-birth and as one of the possible alternative against violence (knowing it’s also one of the must profound reasons of it).
    I am and we are as a company very much interested in making contact with other organizations, projects and people with parallel interests and related works
    saludos cordiales
    Lydia margules

    1. Hello Lydia, Thanks for your comment; it’s always good to hear about people working in this field. My Spanish only allows me to get a general idea of the work on your blog, but it looks great. There are many companies you would be interested in: one that might be particularly interesting to you is El colegio del cuerpo’ in Cartagena de Indias. Álvaro Restrepo has been doing fantastic work in Colombia for many years. Here’s a video of a recent project, about internal exile and displaced people in Colombia http://vimeo.com/31277445; you’ll find more on their website. I hope your new project is a great success, Best wishes, François

  2. Thank you François! I saw the video you recommended me! I found it very interesting and with beautiful images and all but I think we are working a little bit towards another direction. We are looking to answer the questions: is it possible to create a piece about emigration and exile without talking about the victims and the tears? is it possible to reconsider this themes through the idea of a door that opens in the inner self as it encounters “The Other”, other culture, other lenguajes, other faces? and this door is opening to a re-birth full of possibilities….
    I would like to share with you this small presentation of the project:
    “Station on the move comes from the idea of migration as a phenomenon of great complexity, a connection between past and future. Migration as a principle of expansion where the fact of traveling to another place, to a strange place, becomes the beginning of the real journey, the journey beyond one self, the journey to the very origins of identity. In the encounter with the other, one meets one self in confrontation with other identities and re-discovers their own identity and origins. But also one opens their senses provoked by the need and desire to adapt to that new world and gradually builds a new identity that has been already dotted with the new environment and so it can bring out a new possibility for existence.”
    I hope you find this interesting!
    hasta muy pronto!!
    Muchos saludos/ best regards!!!

  3. I like your idea, Lydia. It is parallel to what I’m doing with ‘Bread and Salt’ – looking for a way to talk about migration (and specifically movement between cultures) as a key asset in human development. Today – at least in Western eyes – it is seen almost entirely in negative terms. And what you see as negative easily becomes so. As you say, these are questions of great complexity, but we cannot find the best in it without seeing it clearly. The work of artists, migrants and non-migrants, is one way of working towards greater clarity. I hope your project goes well and I look forward to hearing about it.
    Happy new year! Here’s to a rebirth of possibilities in 2012

  4. Hi Francois! I am Cristine, I am a Colombian musician currently based in London, and also I am studying cultural management. I have found your papers and studies very interesting, I do think that arts are the way to overcome society problems, and also that using arts in different ways will help us all artist and society to improve our lives. I have chosen this subject as my final these project, and I would like to know bit more about your research. Any chance to contact you to have a chat?



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