UCL News


Spotlight on Simon Cane

22 January 2015

This week the spotlight is on Simon Cane, Director of Public and Cultural Engagement.

Simon Cane

What is your role and what does it involve?

I have what is quite possibly the best job in the world. As Director, Public and Cultural Engagement (PACE) I have a really interesting portfolio that covers three museums (the UCL Petrie, UCL Art Museum and the UCL Grant Museum) Collections including the iconic auto icon Jeremy Bentham, the Public Engagement Unit, Teaching and Research and The Bloomsbury Theatre. PACE's role is to connect UCL with a wide range of publics, enhance the student experience through the use of our world class collections, and support staff and students in delivering research impact.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I started at UCL on the 6 January so just a few weeks. I have moved from Birmingham Museums Trust where I was for 10 years in a number of roles but latterly as Director of Operations and Commercial.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

My work on the Staffordshire Hoard project at Birmingham (www.staffordshirehoard.org.uk). The Hoard is a unique and remarkable find. I was one of the first people to see it at Birmingham and that is a moment I will never forget an 'Indiana Jones' moment if ever there was one. The level of media coverage the Hoard received when it was announced was unprecedented and it was clear that the levels of expectation from the public, from archaeologists and from academics were high and not always compatible. I worked hard to keep the project in the public domain and I believe we broke new ground in how to deliver a publicly engaged research programme.

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of you to-do list?

The development of UCL East at the Olympic Park is a once in generation opportunity and I am very excited about how we will contribute to the Olympic legacy. We will also soon be opening the 'Bloomsbury Studio', a new space for nurturing UCL talent, for media training, for engaging London's communities, for research performance and enhancing impact. Find out more about it, and our submissions procedure, here.

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

Album: Killing Joke - Killing Joke. This albums influence cannot be underestimated. The band are still making great records and delivering shamanic live performances.

Film: Wild at Heart

Book: Underworld by Don DeLilo

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

Two parrots on a perch. One says to the other, can you smell fish?

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Hunter S Thompson, Elvis, Bonn Scott, Youth (Killing Joke bass player and music producer) Janis Joplin, P J Harvey, Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes, Paloma Faith - it could get messy.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don't listen to the older you.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I used to restore steam traction engines for a living.

What is your favourite place?

Vietnam. I have been lucky enough to travel extensively through this beautiful country and I collect the costume and textiles of its many and varied minorities.