Explore past editions of NiTRO, the DDCA’s dedicated space for views and news in the tertiary creative arts community.

Past Editions

Mythbusting: the real role and contribution of creative arts

Published August 2019

Whether it is because of the comparative newness of creative arts as an academic discipline, its differences from STEM or simply a desire to reduce competition for shared university budgets, a number of negative perceptions about creative arts study and research have grown up.

“A degree in creative arts is just a passport to unemployment”

“Research in creative arts is not as rigorous as other disciplinary research”

“Those who can’t succeed in their practice, teach”

“Creative arts research and study is for personal satisfaction and does not contribute to the national economy, innovation or society”

In this edition we seek to dispel some of these myths.

Contributors: Jenny Wilson, Clive Barstow, Mark Scholtes & Beata Batorowicz, Kim Cunio, Max Schleser, and Nancy Mauro-Flude.

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Our Interdisciplinary World: the future of creative arts or the end of specialised practice?

Published July 2019

As industry increasingly emphasises the value of creativity and artistic experience for a host of non-arts disciplines, interdisciplinarity - in research, teaching and engagement - is becoming a fact of life for many in creative arts education. But what does it mean for creative arts disciplines themselves? Does it open up new pathways for creative expression and enhanced graduate careers? Or does it reduce time for dedicated arts practice and consign the arts to an optional generalist cultural studies ‘add on’?

Contributors: Jenny Wilson, Clive Barstow, Keely Macarow, Jonathan Duckworth, Jon Cattapan, Caren Florance, Elizabeth Ellison, and Ross Woodrow.

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The Measurement Game: Evaluation of quality, impact and engagement of creative arts research

Published June 2019

Extending the discussion of creative arts research in our last edition Are we there yet?, this edition of NiTRO drills down into the question of evaluation to try and unpack how we know if we are there yet. What is it about the current systems used to evaluate research performance that helps or hinders creative arts disciplines to know, and show, the quality, impact and engagement that we instinctively know is a central feature of our research?

As the results of Australia’s research excellence, impact and engagement exercises complete their cyclical reporting, how has national research performance evaluation shaped up for creative arts research?

Contributors: Jenny Wilson, Cat Hope, Jen Webb & Ross Gibson, Brydie-Leigh Bartleet, Marie Sierra, Simon Biggs, Clive Barstow & Jill Durey, Su Baker, Larissa Hjorth and Craig Batty.

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Creative Arts Research: Are we there yet?

Published April 2019

One of NiTRO’s most popular editions focused on the vexed topic of creative arts research. How does artistic practice connect with, and encompass, research - through the eyes of artists and researchers, universities and tertiary institutions and government?

Whether referred to as practice-led, practice-based, artistic, studio or creative arts research, much academic commentary, particularly in Australia, has reflected the desire for this research to be recognised and treated equally with other scholarly disciplines.

This edition of NiTRO revisits the topic to ask how things have progressed for creative arts research: ‘“Are we there yet?” as Jen Webb asked. Looking from a different viewpoint, how has creative arts research evolved and responded to institutional management, to methodological innovations, to the needs of the growing number of our research students and to the increasing interest in disciplinary collaboration and interdisciplinarity?

This edition also marks a changing of the guard as DDCA’s founding president Professor Su Baker hands the baton to Professor Clive Barstow who opens this edition of NiTRO with his first Welcome as DDCA President.

Contributors: Jenny Wilson, Clive Barstow, Ross Woodrow, Craig Batty, Carole Gray, James Oliver, Dennis Del Favero, Jeri Kroll, Vanessa Tomlinson & Charulatha Mani, Susan Kerrigan, Linda Candy, and Bernadette Cochrane.

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Arts Policy Futures: The bigger picture

Published March 2019

Following on from our December edition of NiTRO on policy issues relating to the tertiary arts sector, in this edition our contributors consider the bigger picture in arts, culture and education as they contemplate the policy considerations that should be pursued as we head towards the federal election later this year.

Introducing a new NiTRO Community News feature
In response to readers, we also introduce a new section on local happenings in our tertiary arts sector. We hope this will be a regular feature and invite community news from our tertiary institutions whether this is new appointments or employment opportunities in tertiary creative arts, upcoming conferences, exhibitions or performances, visits by key speakers or internal program or structure changes.

Contributors: Jenny Wilson, Clive Barstow, Margaret Sheil, Margaret Baguley, John O’Toole, and James Verdon, Bettina Frankham & Kath Dooley.

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Australia’s arts and culture policy: the state of play

Published December 2018

Creatives working and studying in Australia’s tertiary sector straddle the policy agenda for both higher education and the arts. As researchers, educators and students, they are directly impacted by changes to higher education policy. As practicing artists, and educators of our future professional arts community, the direction of Australia’s policies for art and culture shape career direction, creative opportunities and, for some, subject choice.

In this edition of NiTRO, some of Australia’s leading art and cultural commentators, including a number of our most-read previous contributors, discuss the face, facets and future of our national art and culture policy.

Contributors: Jenny Wilson, Su Baker, Rupert Myer AO, PJ Collins, Patrick Finn, Esther Anatolitis, Justin O’Connor, Abigail Gilmore, Peter Tregear, Eileen Siddins and Sandra Gattenhof.

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Philanthropy and tertiary arts: The future for sustainable art education?

Published October 2018

In recent years we have seen a growth in tertiary sector focus on attracting philanthropic support and witnessed the expansion of Advancement as part of the university management mission. This is mirrored by increased attention by creative and arts organisations in cultivating relationships with individual donors. These approaches have resulted in some substantial and generous gifts to tertiary arts.

What do such relationships bring to donor and donee? Does philanthropic generosity provide a sustainable pathway for the future of creative and tertiary arts? And if so, what are the crucial steps to achieving success? Are there any longer term concerns to such gifting?

Contributors: Jenny Wilson, Su Baker, Fiona Menzies, Melinda Rackham, Fiona Salmon, Campbell Gray, Ann Tonks, Wendy Scaife, and Jenny Wilson and Bethwyn Serow.

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Inside Tertiary Creative Arts today: Teaching innovation and attitude change

Published August 2018

In our previous edition of NiTRO, we focused on the experiences and changes that the Dawkins Reforms brought to the creative arts.

Fast forward thirty years, we look at some of the curriculum innovations and attitudinal changes in tertiary arts in academia today that could hardly have been imagined by those experiencing the first few years following the Dawkins disruptions.

Contributors: Jenny Wilson, Clive Barstow, Leah Coutts, Jodi McAlister, Beata Batorowicz, Patrick West, Ramesh Nithiyendran, Lisa Grocott, Neil Haddon and Arlo Langham.

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The Dawkins reforms - 30 years on

Published: July 2018

In July 1988, the Commonwealth Government released ‘Higher Education: A Policy Statement 1988’. The white paper reshaped the landscape of Australian higher education and the changes it catalysed have become known as ‘the Dawkins Reforms’ after the then Minister responsible for its introduction, John Dawkins.  In this edition, we reflect upon the effect of these reforms, particularly on tertiary creative arts.

Contributors: Jenny WilsonSu BakerGwilym CroucherGlyn DavisScott BrookRichard VellaRoss WoodrowJen WebbPaul UhlmannTracy BradfordDanny ButtJenny Wilson & Kit Wise, and Jenny Wilson, Ann Schilo, Peter Roennfeldt, Michael Halliwell, Geoffrey Caban & Nick Oughton.

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The Inclusion Imperative: Tertiary creative arts and community cohesion

Published: June 2018

Whether as a powerful tool for communicating the realities experienced by citizens and communities, or a vehicle for better understanding and connection with our neighbours, creative arts play a critical role in social cohesion and community representation. In this edition of NiTRO we highlight examples of how different art forms are seeking to improve inclusion.

Contributors: Jenny WilsonSu BakerSonja PedellAlison WotherspoonJordan LaceyShaun McNiffClint Bracknell, and Natalie Lazaroo.

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The impact of tertiary and creative arts

Published: April 2018

As many Australian tertiary creative arts staff grapple with the national research assessment requirements of impact and engagement, we delve into the broader question of what impact means in the context of creative arts, and question whether measuring ‘impact’ is an accurate or even useful way of considering the value of creative arts.

Contributors: Clive BarstowJenny WilsonNatalie KingKatja FleischmannDr Nadia NiazJenny Wilson, Susan Cooper and Adrian FisherRenee CrawfordIan HaigDr Heather Skinner and Dr Nicola Williams-Burnett.

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Looking backwards, moving forwards: Global directions in tertiary creative arts

Published: March 2018

Soren Kierkegaard is credited with the observation that life can only be understood backwards but must be lived forwards. This is certainly true for Australian tertiary arts education where past government and institutional decisions shape our future plans for 2018 and beyond. But our disciplines and practices are also influenced by broader changes that are taking place in tertiary arts research and education internationally.

For our first edition of NiTRO for 2018 we approach our annual question of what might lie ahead for tertiary creative arts from a slightly different angle. Our contributors speak to the changes they have experienced in their individual creative arts disciplines and from working within different geographies as they consider how 2018 might shape up.

Contributors: Su BakerJenny WilsonPaul GoughCraig Batty and Bettina FrankhamWelby IngsMostyn Bramley-MooreAlfdaniels MabingoSteph HutchisonAlexander DamianischAntonia PontLéuli Eshraghi, Grace McQuilten & Marnie BadhamAubrey Mellor OAMBala StarrClive BarstowDenise Ferris and Annika Harding.


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Tertiary creative arts: The next generation

Published: November 2017

‘After you've done a thing the same way for two years, look it over carefully. After five years, look at it with suspicion. And after ten years, throw it away and start all over’

Alfred Perlman’s quote reflects the New York Central Railroad of which he was President. However, there is a nugget of truth in his observation, even for academia where things move much more slowly. As Babyboomers and Gen X-ers prepare for well earned retirement, what might the new generation of creative arts academics and practitioners want to throw away or keep?

In this edition of NiTRO we hand over to the next generation of academics, teachers, researchers and graduates in creative arts to explore how they experience life in academia. We also include a NiTRO experimental special feature as Deakin University’s student journalists interview graduating creative artists to capture their journey from university to professional art world.

Contributors: Clive BarstowJenny WilsonNiklavs RubenisSteph KehoeErica SeccombeJames NewittBudi MillerKate HunterSam McAuliffeLienors TorreDonna FranklinDonna FranklinDonna Franklin and Jane Whelan.


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Tertiary creative arts and politics: Activist tiger or corporatised pussycat?

Published: October 2017

From Verdi’s compositional call to arms to the visual commentary of Gordon Bennett, art has always played an important role in political change. It captures and reports inequities and can galvanise public energy in a way that evades the written work of the statistician, however elegant their data may be presented.

Art is also deeply affected by political decisions. In Australia, many small arts organisations are still reeling from recent government funding changes. In higher and vocational education, political determinations of which courses, scholarships and research projects are worthy of national support are reshaping how creative art is taught and studied.

This edition of NiTRO considers the role and responses of creative arts disciplines to the political landscape and the influence that political decisions have upon tertiary arts education.

Contributors: Su BakerJenny WilsonEdwina Howell and Gary FoleyTony FryJulian MeyrickSusan DavisAbigail GilmoreRob GawthropJoseph ToltzDomenic Redfern.


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Shaping our future cultural heritage: Tertiary arts graduates and alumni

Published: August 2017

Australia’s leading arts practitioners increasingly hold undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications from our tertiary institutions. Tertiary arts graduates and alumni are pushing the boundaries of cultural understanding and shaping how we will all experience and enjoy art now and in the future. How has their educational experience helped them in their professional arts career? As educators, how do we shape our student experiences to meet the challenges ahead? And how do we then make sure that creative arts schools maintain connections with alumni to bring their experiences back into the education of the new generation of arts students?

In this edition of NiTRO, we present just a small selection to showcase how our graduates and alumni are shaping our cultural and artistic landscape and we explore how tertiary arts programs, schools and institutions are helping to ensure that they reach their potential as cultural entrepreneurs.

Contributors: Clive BarstowJenny WilsonAngie MillerDiana Blom & Dawn BennettShane StrangePaul UhlmannNicholas MarksRyan DanielJenny Wilson and Georgie MeagherLouise CrossenJo ConlonStacey SalazarRachael Haynes


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Sharing Common Ground: Art, Science and Technology

Published: June 2017

Contrary to popular perception, academics in art, science and technology are not isolated in separate camps. A myriad of collaborations are happening across Australia. Where these take place respectfully and inclusively, they are producing new ways of thinking, seeing and creating expressed in both artistic and scientific outcomes. In less equitable settings, creative arts risks losing its identity and independence. Evolutions in science and technology continue to shape the practice of art and, although policy frameworks have still to catch up, the contribution that art brings to science and technology development is increasingly being recognised.

In this NiTRO’s first anniversary edition, creative artists, and colleagues in other disciplines, discuss their perspectives and experiences of the connectivity between art, science and technology.

Contributors: Clive BarstowJenny WilsonRobyn SloggettFrank MillwardPatricia AufderheideOron CattsOliver SmithSvenja J. Kratz and Anita GowersJessica SeymourKim VincsKylie Pappalardo

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Creative Leadership

Published: May 2017

Leadership in tertiary creative arts is not an easy task. The environment is in a constant state of flux. Leaders need to meet evolving government and institutional policy direction, secure sustainability within shifting, and often difficult, funding environments and meet the technical and curriculum expectations of ever changing cohorts of students. In times of stress, the arts leadership represents the frontline for any dissatisfaction from staff, students, institutions and governments. As the saying goes: ‘It's a tough job but someone has to do it’.

In this edition of NiTRO, we consider what it takes to be a leader in creative arts. How can the complexity of leadership be approached? And how can we address the challenges that lie ahead?

Contributors: Su Baker, Jenny Wilson, Annika Harding, Anna Reid, Ian Howard, Professor Barbara de la Harpe and Thembi Mason, Megan Burslem and Cat Hope, Kate Cherry and Jenny Wilson, Steve Chapman

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Naturally Global: Tertiary Creative Arts in an international context

Published: April 2017

Higher education is touted as one of Australia’s leading exports.  Along with colleagues in other disciplines, creative arts schools welcome international students and staff from a myriad of different backgrounds and cultures and connect globally through a conglomeration of international exchanges, conferences and collaborations. For tertiary arts, this is not just the enactment of educational internationalisation strategy but part and parcel of creative endeavour. For art is naturally global.

Contributors: Clive Barstow, Jenny WilsonNatascha Radclyffe-ThomasCaroline McMillenMargaret Baguley and Georgina BartonJames NewittDan BendrupsAndrew TetzlaffHerman van Eyken

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Creative Arts Futures: Probable. Possible. Imagined.

Published: March 2017

Last year NiTRO posed the question ‘Watt’s next for creative arts?” Now, in the first half of 2017, despite the release of the Watt report and a flurry of consultation papers and government statements, we appear no nearer to a definitive answer. Sometimes it appears that all we can do is wait for the clouds to lift and hope that a shaft of sunlight may shine our way. In the meantime, we reprise our original question as our contributors consider what could, and should, be ahead for tertiary creative arts?

Contributors: Su Baker, Jenny Wilson Laurene VaughanSean LowryWarren BebbingtonJenny WallerSandra GattenhofTim Cahill and Julian Meyrick

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Community Connections

Published: November 2016

Creative arts has always faced outwards from academia. Its influence, whether through research or student based projects, shapes many public and specialised communities in a diversity of ways. The fourth edition of NiTRO presents just a selection of projects to showcase the community and creative arts relationships in tertiary education.

Contributors: Jenny WilsonSu BakerDeborah TerryRussell KennedyDeborah StoneAmanda StuartLucy BleachTom YoungLucas IhleinSamantha DonnellyAngela Goddard and Fiona SalmonSean MeeRuth Bereson and Caitlyn ByrneCat Hope

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Academia and Artistic Practice

Published: September 2016

In the third edition of NiTRO we focused on how academia connects, supports and influences artistic practice outside the university walls, and particularly how it prepares its existing and emerging artists for careers in their chosen profession.

Contributors: Jenny WilsonSu BakerPamela BurnardArun SharmaMalcolm GilliesTamara WinikoffEileen Siddins and Ryan DanielSue GillettTracey BensonVanessa TomlinsonIan HaigPeter KnightClive Barstow and Jenny WilsonLinda Ludwig.

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Watt's Next For Creative Arts?

Our first edition focused on the changing higher education landscape and asked: Watt’s next for creative arts?

Published: July 2016

Contributors: Jenny WilsonSu BakerMargaret Gardner AOTim Cahill and Julian MeyrickJulie HareLynn Churchill and Jill FranzDenise Ferris and Marie SierraLynda HawrylukJohn Cumming and Craig Batty

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