NiTRO Creative Matters

Perspectives on creative arts in higher education

Edition 14, 2018 – Tertiary arts and social inclusion

Once upon a time, in a far-off galaxy and before becoming an academic, I worked in film and television as a production manager and for a brief time tried to eke out an existence as an independent producer. In 1997 I was fortunate enough to be appointed on contract to teach screen production at Flinders University.

Feeling swamped and overwhelmed by the modern city has become a typical human sensation. At times, it can feel as if there is no room for ourselves – our voices – within the cacophony of noises, speeds and intensities that define our daily experiences.

Impediments to inclusion permeate the arts, empowered by assumptions about quality expression, talent, the nature of art, and who can and cannot make it. These views are broadly internalised by the outliers many of us want to involve in creation, maximising their repressive powers.

Recordings of endangered music are especially important to cultural sustainability in Aboriginal communities because of inherent connections between Aboriginal songs, language, knowledge and the well-being of people and Country.

The topic of ‘poverty’ in Singapore is often met with surprise. The tiny island-nation with a population of roughly 5 million has often been described as wealthy and prosperous. Poverty in Singapore is thus not recognised by homeless people living on the streets. Rather, the poor tend to remain invisible.

Commenting on the release of the latest report into New Zealanders and the Arts earlier this month, Prime Minister Jacinda Aderne said ‘I believe arts and creativity are integral and inseparable parts of what it is to be human’. In this edition of NiTRO, we highlight just a few examples of how tertiary and creative arts is seeking to ‘give a voice to the voiceless’ as Robert L Lynch famously declared.

While much media reporting portrays technology as a cause of social withdrawal, a research project by Dementia Australia, Lifeview Residential Care and Swinburne University’s Future Self and Design Living Lab is enhancing communication between people with dementia and their visitors using an iPad.