NiTRO Creative Matters

Perspectives on creative arts in higher education

Edition 12, 2018 – Global directions in tertiary creative arts

The sleeve notes for a 12 inch vinyl record – or the ‘liner’ as it’s known in the US – comprise on average 700 words ... thrice that of the ‘textual descriptor’ – the Research Statement - which is all that’s allowed when describing the content of a non-traditional research output [the INTRO] for the forthcoming research assessment exercise...

A conversation between Clive Barstow, and Professor Chen Huagang, Dean of Art & Design at Guandong Baiyun University in China (with thanks to translator Jie He).

An ongoing state of wonderful “little ease” might be the best way to sum up 2017. What that ongoing state of “little ease” continued to reveal and what is exciting moving forwards is the very extraordinary ways in which dance training produces truly ‘agile beasts’ – capable, intelligent, resilient, adaptable and inspiring collaborators and artistic leaders.

Thinking about tertiary creative arts in 2018, it is worth reflecting on the 2017 ACUADS Conference at the ANU School of Art and Design, which probed the theme ‘Value’. At a time when Australian tertiary art and design schools are facing increasing economic and political challenges, this was a vital focus, and resulted in the sharing of key research, and productive discussions.

Art and research, typically, have their own focal points and contextual understanding of relevance for their fields. But there is at least one strong overlapping area, and artistic research is at the core of this today. Artistic Research is multi-coloured, curiosity driven, open to apply and adapt methods and reach out for topics challenging the given

As we settle into the 2018 academic year in Australia, surrounded by the confused faces of new students (and staff) and enmeshed in ERA statements, research impact and engagement justifications and the uncertainty of government plans for teaching and learning funding, we can forget that our world of creative arts education is bigger than the institutionally created boxes that immediately surround us.

I was recently introduced to a verb I hadn’t encountered before. I was attending—as a supervisor—a session looking to create opportunities for doctoral researchers (mostly of a STEM kind) . . . . the session (for me) had one good outcome, and this was learning this new verb. Angular, gauche and graceless, with zero poetry, it is however precise and pulls no punches: to self-select-out.

Following a period of research consolidation in 2015 and 2016, 2017 saw the Australian Screen Production Education and Research Association (ASPERA) ‘up the stakes’ with regard to its capacity for disciplinary research and, importantly, its future. We launched the report Screen Production Research Reporting: An ASPERA Scoping Project ... to capture some of the long-standing discussions and issues the discipline was facing.

On Tuesday December 12, 2017, in unceded Wurundjeri territory, a group of 40 artists/designers/researchers/curators/educators from Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand came together at RMIT University to start to discuss the future of Social Practice in Art and Design. Using human relations as method and content across art and design, social practice connects creative practitioners with communities, industries and institutions to address contemporary social and political issues.

Here in Australian higher arts education, we are presiding over some ‘interesting’ times ourselves. With a divided polity, seemingly, but not only, separated along education and value and belief system lines, we are finding an astonishing and baffling suspicion of ‘expertise’ and what has been called ‘wilful ignorance’ or the US legal term ‘wilful blindness’.