ART.20.003 – Performing expertise in times of crisis

Route: Art: research and innovation in the 21st century

Cluster question: 068 How can we promote and utilise creativity and innovation?

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the current dilemma of expertise. We urgently need expert knowledge to solve the public health crisis. Simultaneously, scientific expertise is now contested by non-experts, both online and offline. This dilemma reinforces a long-standing tension between expert and lay knowledges. Traditional ways of establishing the legitimacy of and trust in scientific expertise no longer seem to work. This dilemma also appears in the arts. Professional artists and arts organizations are subsidized to care for traditions, values and craftsmanship. At the same time the legitimacy of their role as gatekeepers is questioned in debates about the dominance of elites and the diversity of cultural identities and experiences. Artists and arts institutions rethink their relevance and seek to connect in new ways to audiences, amateurs, and citizens. This project researches contested and undervalued expert knowledge, asking how the arts can make the dilemma of expertise productive in times of crisis. Answering this question requires methodological innovation. To achieve this, we propose to create ‘collaboratories’ of experts and non-experts. These collaboratories are established through artistic-scientific experimentation and designed as shared problem spaces. Practitioners from different disciplines will engage with undervalued forms of lay knowledge on the one hand, and imaginative, inventive and embodied forms of skill on the other. This interdisciplinary reflection on shifting norms and forms of expertise can draw on experimental strategies in self-organized art education, non-institutional archives, performing arts’ attempts at audience inclusivity, popularizations and critiques of science in theater, collaborations in classical music with amateurs and performers from different musical traditions, as well as in new online platforms to exhibit and sell artworks. The result of the project is an understanding of how new norms and forms of legitimacy of and trust in expertise can emerge and flourish.


art-science collaboration, artistic research, embodied skills, expert knowledge, participatory methods, trust

Other organisations

Maastricht University and the Jan van Eyck Academy


Organisation Lectoraat Autonomie en Openbaarheid in de Kunsten, Zuyd Hogeschool
Name Dr. R. (Ruth) Benschop