Cultural work, also referred to as creative labour (McKinlay and Smith 2009), has recently received more attention in academic journals and literature. This is in clear contrast with economic and cultural policy interventions in the last two decades that, while increasingly highlighting the role of culture and creativity in the economy and society, have failed to consider the centrality of cultural work and its practices and specificity (Banks and Hesmondhalgh 2009; Oakley 2013). Taking further the argument of Banks and Hesmondhalgh (2009) that cultural work has been mostly invisible in cultural and social policy, this chapter argues that there have been critical moments in recent years where cultural work has become more visible, contextualised and contested. We use a selection of these moments to highlight the need for a more sustained engagement with what Banks (2007) calls the politics of cultural work. Using these moments, we illustrate that the politics of cultural work become visible when a specific critical point is reached in which questions of its value, sustainability or ethics are raised. Furthermore, we highlight the role of academic engagement and research in this area and its potential impact. This is at the centre of recent UK-based projects focused on key issues in the field of cultural work studies. For example, recent AHRC-funded projects on cultural value and ‘improving cultural work’ have contributed to an increasing focus on examining inequalities in cultural and creative industries, a hitherto unspoken but pervasive problem in this sector. This kind of research, which seeks to connect academics with policymakers, union representatives, external stakeholders and practitioners, highlights the need to reflect and reconnect research with policy and practice to enable cultural work to become consistently visible and understandable.