christian butterworth

Name: Christian Butterworth (2013 cohort)

CDT: HighWire CDT, Lancaster University

Nationality: British

Status: Alumni – thesis submitted

  • Research area: Data sharing policies and organisational structures in the arts and cultural sector
  • Current role: Senior Policy Advisor, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Before joining the HighWire CDT, Christian completed an undergraduate degree in Theatre and Performance Technology at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA). This was a vocational course, with less demand for academic writing. After graduating from LIPA, Christian had the bug to further explore the arts with a more critical and academic focus, and went on to complete an MA in Contemporary Arts Consultancy at Lancaster University.

Christian applied to HighWire as it was a doctoral training centre that centred on management, design, and computing, which was a blend perfectly aligned with Christian’s research interests and background, and also his desire to push himself further in academia.

The opportunity to gain an extra masters qualification, while preparing for a PhD was also a big draw to the programme. The MRes year really challenged Christian to think differently about his research interests, but more importantly, it gave him the space to let his ideas develop, whilst being fully supported by the program and university to develop skills and techniques to manage his Dyslexia.

Christian’s research brought together his love of the Arts, and keen interest in management and data to explore how changes in data policies can impact the management structures of publicly funded arts and cultural organisations.

In the final year of his PhD, he completed a secondment at the Cabinet Office, working in Whitehall for three months in the Open Innovation Team. This placement allowed him to apply his academic skills in a new environment and learn about the inner workings of government.

The most notable highlights of Christian’s PhD were the people he met both from other cohorts and at conferences. It was these individuals who he was able to put his ideas to, be challenged by, and generally be supported by throughout the whole PhD process.

Christian admits he has experienced some struggles with the work, life and PhD balance. Currently, he is writing up his thesis whilst working full time at the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport, which is a serious challenge!  He would recommend that any one embarking on the PhD journey should allow themselves the time for their research ideas to develop – Christian’s thesis looks very different from his initial proposal!

Christian relocated to London recently and is currently a Senior Policy Advisor in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.  The analytical and critical thinking skills he developed throughout the PhD process have helped in his policy development work. He hopes his research will help inform better change management processes in the future, especially as organisations continue to evolve in the digital space.

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