Nick Wilson

"Living Artfully"


Hello and welcome.

From an early age I loved doing music. I played and sung my way to university, music colleges in London and Berlin, and then the life of a freelance singer. I gave up singing professionally in the late 1990s, but this didn't stop me 'finding my voice' in other areas. I worked in arts management & concert promotion, small business research, and teaching in a business school. For the last decade my professional home has been in the Arts and Humanities faculty of King's College London, where I'm Professor of Culture & Creativity and (from June 2020) Head of Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries. Over the years, I've made lots of discoveries. Recently, I've come to realise that my work is unified in its underlying focus on what I call 'aesthetic reason' and 'living artfully' (watch my Inaugural Lecture).

I believe that 'art' transcends 'the arts'. Art matters because it is the distinctive human practice where we give sharable form to our experiences of being-in-relation with the natural necessity of the world - quite simply, the way the world is. This is a form of care. In fact, it is a type of (often overlooked) care-work. Art matters. The arts matter not just because they can be entertaining, thought-provoking, uplifting, challenging, comforting, a source of employment, and major contribution to national productivity (GDP), (they are all this, and much more besides), but because they are where society gives permission to value aesthetic knowing. It is this kind of knowing that helps us recognise what we have reason to value, and come to know what is it like to be human. I suggest that recognising what we have reason to value is a basic human need - albeit one that often goes unrecognised and un-cared for. 'Seeing', 'hearing', and then taking responsibility to fulfil this need through art is then an act of care that is central to human flourishing.

My teaching, research and leadership in the areas of culture, media and creative industries is all part of an on-going quest for living artfully. I'm pursuing this through a number of current research projects, including Developing Inclusive and Sustainable Creative Economies (DISCE), and Cultures of Care ( For me, culture is best understood in terms of our systems of value recognition. Understanding and critically interrogating our systems of value recognition (the market, politics, education, science, healthcare, and - yes, the arts) is one of the most important tasks we can possibly embark on.

I regularly upload writings and links to publications, as well as information about my current research interests and projects. More details of my work at the Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries, King's College London is available on the CMCI website.

Please do get in touch if you would like to collaborate!

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Credit: David Tett

Recent News

On May 21st, 2021 I was invited to speak at the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Event on Culture and Sustainable Development. My panel talk was on 'The status of artists, cultural professionals and organizations: Equitable digital transformation to support COVID-19 recovery. A video of my talk is available here. The full programme of the event is available here.

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Providing the first dedicated and comprehensive account of art and aesthetics from a critical realist perspective – Aesthetic Critical Realism (ACR), Wilson argues for a profound paradigm shift in how we understand and care for culture in terms of our system(s) of value recognition. Fortunately, we have just the right tool to help us achieve this transformation – and it’s called art. Offering novel explanatory accounts of art, aesthetic experience, value, play, culture, creativity, artistic truth and beauty, this book will appeal to a wide audience of students and scholars of art, aesthetics, human development, philosophy and critical realism, as well as cultural practitioners and policy-makers.

The Palgrave Handbook of Creativity at Work is co-edited with my colleague and friend Lee Martin. It is comprised of 30 chapters which explore the subject from a diverse set of perspectives. As I outline in the final chapter's synthesis of ideas, I believe that the handbook offers a genuinely new, constructive (albeit challenging) way of thinking about creativity (at work) as a structured practice of care. Chapters are available to download here.

Entries I've written on "authenticity", "early music", and "Werktreue" are included in this new comprehensive encyclopedia of historical performance in music (2018).


I was honoured that my article "What's the problem? Cultural capability and learning from Historical Performance" features in this inaugural edition of  Historical Performance (2018). For more details click here.

Huffington Post article (24th May, 2017) by Tony Woodcock discusses the 'Entrepreneurship in Music' conference in Oslo, Norway in April, 2017, in which I gave the opening Keynote.


As a conflation of the words ‘creativity’ and ‘if’ (as in ‘what if?’), creatifity carrys with it an aspirational message about human creativity that is imaginative, emancipatory, and value-positive. This is a message that informs my approach to creativity research and practice.

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties”
Erich Fromm


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