NiTRO Creative Matters

Perspectives on creative arts in higher education

Edition 40

It is tempting to think of 2022 as a re-start or clean slate, but many are still grieving lost opportunities, projects, tours, and events missed while struggling to adapt to ever-changing modes of making and delivering our work … those with current academic jobs are the lucky ones and we need to hone in on ways to support the broader arts sector – no easy task when we are still trying to get our own house in order.

The landscape has shifted for many in tertiary creative arts. COVID has focused government attention and funding towards the health and science areas, and at the same time changes to the student fee structures have disadvantaged those in the creative arts, social sciences and particularly the humanities. Staff cuts have been widespread across all disciplines and those in creative arts report staff reductions across the sector combined with lack of university interest (in resourcing terms).

It is easy to lament the chronic underfunding of the arts in Australia. Some may mistake the tireless production of content for festivals, exhibition tours and online programs as evidence of a healthy and robust industry … But just what do we tell the next generation of artists as they embark on creative arts’ degrees? Are we feeding them a perpetual lie that maintaining a career in the arts is a worthy pursuit that is not only enjoyable but also sustainable and inclusive?

Creative UK champions, connects, supports, and invests in creative people and businesses. We’re a group of diverse and inclusive professionals who believe in the power of the creative industries to change lives, placing creativity at the heart of the UK’s culture, economy and education system.

I grew up in and have lived most of my life in NSW wheat country. From the wide expanses of West Wyalong to the rolling, fertile hills at Wallendbeen, the places of my heart are dotted with the familiar architecture of silos … As it turns out in the 21st century, silos aren’t as useful as they once were for keeping wheat safe. They need to change form and look outwards now.

Strides have been made to tackle the lack of gender equality within the screen industry but despite this only 14% of all directors are women, 27% producers, 20% writers, 17% editors and 7% cinematographers – statistics that have barely changed in 20 years … Given that within tertiary education the gender balance on film courses is close to 50:50 this is extremely troubling.

ACUADS, The Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools, is the national peak body for the university visual arts, crafts and design disciplines. ACUADS represents over 20 Australian university art and design faculties, schools and departments and other academic units offering university degrees at undergraduate and postgraduate levels; as well as Vocational Education providers and private institutions.

When I completed my undergraduate studies in art school in Singapore, I remember thinking I knew the theatre that I didn’t want to make, and not the theatre I wanted to make. I then lapped up the opportunity to undertake a postgraduate diploma in Australia a year later. I had already begun working in the “industry” two years before my tertiary creative arts education; yet for the entire duration of both undergraduate and postgraduate studies – I could only call myself an art student; not yet an artist.