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Claire Fox, Academy of Ideas Director

Claire Fox is the director of the Academy of Ideas, which she established to create a public space where ideas can be contested without constraint. She convenes the yearly Battle of Ideas festival and initiated the Debating Matters Competition for sixth-formers. She also co-founded a residential summer school, The Academy, with the aim to demonstrate ‘university as it should be’. 

In May 2019, she was elected as an MEP for the North West England constituency of the UK in the European Parliament elections. During her tenure (which ended on 31 January 2020), she took a temporary sabbatical as Battle of Ideas festival convenor, but remains on the editorial board. 

She is a panelist on BBC Radio 4’s The Moral Maze and is frequently invited to comment on developments in culture, education, media and free speech issues on TV and radio programmes in the UK such as Newsnight and Any Questions? She regularly appears on Sky Paper Review. Claire is a columnist for TES (Times Educational Supplement) and MJ (Municipal Journal). She is author of a book on free speech, recently republished as I STILL Find That Offensive! (Biteback, 2018), and No Strings Attached! Why arts funding should say no to instrumentalism (Arts&Business, 2007).

Claire is involved at a board level in the international debate network, Time To Talk. In 2018, she did a three-month residency as a presenter of a weekly three-hour radio magazine show, Fox News Friday, on LoveSportRadio. She is listed in Who’s Who

Claire graduated from Warwick University in 1981 with a BA (2.2) in English and American Literature. Until 1987, she worked for a variety of voluntary organisations (such as MIND and the Cyrenians), working with the homeless, the mentally ill and in adult education in Coventry, Newcastle and Bradford. She moved to London to teach part-time at Thurrock Technical College, where she taught English GCSE and set up a Return to Learning course for women.  From 1989 to 1991, she worked full time for the Polytechnic of North London Student Union as women’s officer and vice-president. In 1992, Claire completed her PGCE (FE) at Greenwich University (then Thames Polytechnic). She then worked as a full-time lecturer at West Herts College, teaching English GCSE, A level, literacy support and English as a Second Language and was a NATFHE union rep during her time at the college. 

In 1997, Claire became the publisher of LM magazine (formerly Living Marxism), whilst teaching part-time. The magazine was sued for libel, and she gave up teaching to launch a press freedom / free speech campaign in support of the magazine. During this time, Claire became a regular contributor to the broadcast and print media and became a panelist on Radio 4’s Moral Maze (and to date is the programme’s longest standing panelist). LM magazine eventually lost the libel case in 2000, and she set up the Academy of Ideas.

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Classical inspirations: JS Bach and Helmut Lachenmann

Tuesday 28 July, 7.30pm, online, via Zoom