NiTRO Creative Matters

Perspectives on creative arts in higher education

Edition 39, 2021 – DDCA/ACUADS Conference Edition

As Editor of NiTRO I write a report for the DDCA board at the end of each year. This year, I want to share this five-year report with you.

The 2021 ACUADS Conference was developed in partnership with the DDCA to deliberately explore the theme of networks and their possibilities in response to the challenges and future agendas of the Tertiary Art, Design and Creative Arts sector. This partnership was itself a merging of networks, building upon many shared projects and instances of joint advocacy in recent years; a model and proof of concept for the value of further network building.

Professor Cat Hope considers the potential benefits of an Australian Academy of the Arts. She asks: “How do we get a voice to government on behalf of the broader creative arts community that incorporates the nexus of industry and education in the creative arts?” It’s an ACE question.

In mid-2021 the DDCA commissioned Outside Opinion to undertake a snapshot of creative arts activity in Australian higher education between 2019 and 2021. Responses from organisations in five states provided valuable insights into enrolment trends and contextual factors affecting the creative arts programs.

As Universities scramble to consider new economic models, we are entering into a deeply unstable transition between “what we did to survive during COVID”, and the “new normal”. During this period, changes that were rolled out during a global emergency, are becoming fate accompli. Unfortunately these decisions are occurring before we have had a chance to find out what post-COVID recovery looks like for our sector.

During the session ‘Ecosystems & Posthuman Networks’ ACUADS 2021 Kit Wise asked one of my panel peers: “The Makers Movement is such a powerful force, outside the academy. Do you see new opportunities for HE through a more porous approach to collaborative education? And has COVID impacted the Maker Movement, for better or worse?” I found this a profound question

We live in benighted times, of that no doubt. So, what better to lift our spirits as the UK absorbs the russet hues of autumn than to break open our brand-new brightly painted orange building here on the campus at Arts University Bournemouth.

In my blog, I wrote about the value of an arts education and the demise of creative subjects in UK secondary schools. I opened the blog reflecting on the history of the arts and sciences as partners in crime that co-existed in a symbiotic relationship – framed as “allies or enemies”

One of the themes explored in the recent ACUADS/DDCA conference was how best to connect arts education and research to STEM education and economic recovery in a post-pandemic world. From my own discipline of cognitive psychology there is considerable evidence that scientific and artistic creativity can be viewed as manifestations of the same underlying cognitive systems in the brain.

DDCA’s 2021 Forum was conducted in partnership with the annual conference of the Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools (ACUADS) and took place predominantly online. This edition of NiTRO captures and shares insights from this combined event.