NiTRO Creative Matters

Perspectives on creative arts in higher education

Happy First Birthday NiTRO!

By Jenny Wilson — The first edition of NiTRO went live on 30 June 2016 with a focus on the future for creative arts amidst the flurry of government research and higher education reports.

Its first six months were carefully monitored by the DDCA President and Board: Would it be of interest to tertiary creative artists? Or anyone else for that matter? Would it become just a promotional mouthpiece for a couple of high profile universities? Would it deliver the DDCA’s aims to encourage discussion across creative arts disciplines and more broadly about the value of tertiary located creative arts?

As DDCA President Su Baker explains “we wanted to talk to a broader audience of peers, including a new generation of academics, and all who care about the health and prosperity of the creative arts in higher education, and to build a strong community that can help weather storms and celebrate successes.”

NiTRO’s turning point came in December 2016 when NiTRO’s web administrator and I presented our data at the DDCA Board meeting. Summing up the view of the board at the time, Vice President Clive Barstow notes: “Within its inaugural period, NiTRO has already started to play an important role in sharing and discussing important issues surrounding the arts in a volatile higher education environment, while at the same time proposing creative solutions about how we might move forward as a community of passionate artists and educators. The response has been terrific”.

Much to our relief, NiTRO got the tick of approval and went from being an experiment to a fully fledged part of the DDCA’s activities.

Since we took our first digital steps, we have produced 8 Editions which have featured:

  • 78 Australian creative arts staff and academic colleagues with a focus on creative arts
  • 3 commentators from media or practice organisations
  • 8 vice chancellors/ Deputy Vice Chancellors
  • 8 international contributors
  • numerous news items and event details; and
  • a special feature on exhibitions, shows, screenings and ‘happenings’ taking place across the Australian tertiary arts sector.

NiTRO and DDCA has been mentioned in media items and articles are starting to be cited in scholarly work, adding to their impact outcomes.

We are totally indebted to our fantastic contributors whose articles and opinion pieces never fail to deliver those ‘I didn’t know that!’ moments, even for those of us working in the sector.

So who is reading NiTRO?

We can see who is checking out NiTRO by using both Google analytics for the NiTRO site and by looking at the data provided by those who have registered to receive NiTRO by email as soon as each edition is released.

As at the beginning of June 2017, we have over 340 registered readers

  • 68% are academics – fulltime fractional, sessional, emeritus and research fellow in tertiary arts organisation both universities and arts specialist tertiary institutions such as NIDA, NAS, and AFTRS
  • 11 % are administrators or professional staff in Australian universities and tertiary organisations (Hello to our VC and DVC registered readers!)
  • nearly 9 % of registered readers are Australian arts students

Vast majority (70%) are practicing artists. Of these:

  • 43% are visual artists;
  • 38% are performing artists;
  • 10% are creative writers;
  • nearly 9 % are film makers or in film/digital related practice;
  •  and there are a host of other practitioners in public art, architecture, sound art, curation and others

Our online readers – or users – if we are to use the proper Google analytics terminology are more widely spread. Just over 69% of all users were located in Australia with Victoria, New South Wales then Queensland accessing most frequently, but we are gaining a growing international interest as the map below shows.

Where to next?

As the popular idiom goes ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!’ We want to continue to build our base of contributors and would like to hear more from our sessional and early career academics.  They typically don’t get the same opportunities to share their knowledge and experiences that more experienced and ‘embedded’ academic staff do, but as a critical part of creative arts tertiary education, their views are incredibly important if we are to provide a truly representative voice

We’d like to see our readership grow particularly within our students – the next generation of teachers, researchers and practitioners who will take forward many of the discussions and debates that have been canvassed in NiTRO over the past 12 months.

We want to explore how we can engage our colleagues in the Vocational Education and school sector into the discussion. As part of the ‘education pipeline’ their experience and voices are critical to the future of creative arts education.

So – thank you all for your support, contributions, and most of all for sharing the passion with which you pursue the hard yards of developing our future artistic heritage!

Over to DDCA President Su Baker for the final word: “We all know the power of people who are engaged and focused on success for and in the arts, and also the importance of a strong higher education creative arts sector, so please spread the subscription word, help build our base. As always,  there is strength in numbers, a unity of purpose and voice and this is true more than ever before.”

More from this issue

Make Anew

By Oliver Smith — Art and technology. Creativity and invention. Curiosity and innovation. The artist can confidently claim a preeminent

Read More +

More from this issue

By Jenny Wilson — Collaborations across arts, science and technology are growing. It appears that the more that non-arts academics become involved with artists, the more they see how art can provide deeper insight into their own disciplines.
By Professor Robyn Sloggett AM — Art practice and scientific enquiry have the same fundamental epistemological requirements; a broad and deep knowledge of the context in which they operate, the ability to contest and extend existing ontologies, and through this to be able to verify propositions in order to expand knowledge.
By Professor Frank Millward — Living the dream immersed in data...
By Professor Patricia Aufderheide — Australia has one of the most restrictive copyright regimes in the world. Australian creators have fewer ways to access unlicensed copyright material than almost anywhere else. 
By Professor Oron Catts — The life sciences are rapidly shifting into an engineering pursuit. This means that a new, problematic, challenging and performative palette of artistic possibilities opens up.
By Oliver Smith — Art and technology. Creativity and invention. Curiosity and innovation. The artist can confidently claim a preeminent position as a generator of new knowledge. Within the Academy the artist can play an important role in unlocking unforeseen research potential by imaginatively engaging with burgeoning technology.
By Dr Svenja J. Kratz and Anita Gowers — Since the establishment of UWA’s dedicated art and science lab  SymbioticA in 2000,  there has been a growing interest in fostering connections across art and science. An increasing number of academic staff and HDR students are working across the nexus of art and science at major Australian Universities including UNSW, Curtin, QUT, Monash and UTAS.
By Dr Jessica Seymour — Being a writer was always a romantic idea for me. I was a terribly antisocial child, and I liked the idea of hiding away in my bedroom for days – even months – on end and bashing away at a keyboard until a masterpiece came out. I was born in 1990, so a keyboard was part of my fantasy.
By Professor Kim VIncs — As I write, I’m in London, having spent the last day as a member of the User Board for EU Horizon 2020 project, WhoLoDance[i]. WhoLoDance is developing a motion capture data library of dance movement across the genres of ballet, contemporary dance, flamenco and Greek folk dance, and a suite of new technological tools for searching, matching, documenting, learning and sharing dance.
By Dr Kylie Pappalardo — Managing intellectual property can be challenging at the best of times, and university IP policies can add an extra layer of complexity for academics producing scholarly and creative works. This primer provides a short overview of the general legal principles likely to apply to creative arts practitioners working in the university sector.