Editorial: Creative Arts Futures: Probable. Possible. Imagined.

Dr Jenny Wilson

2016 was a year of discussion and consultation on the future of higher education.  Yet despite all the effort and a flurry of statements reinforcing the Australian government’s preferences, actual detail on how these will be implemented is trickling out at best with much still being debated. In research, we know that creative arts will be one of the test sites for the ERA research impact exercise but, at time of writing, universities have only just received instructions on how the impact and engagement pilots will take place. 

The Australian National Audit office is in the process of assessing the effectiveness of the design process and monitoring arrangements for the National Innovation and Science Agenda and those who have not yet had their fill of government consultations have until 31 March to contribute their views on the quality of policy advice, the appropriateness of planning, governance and implementation. (https://www.anao.gov.au/work/performance-audit/design-and-monitoring-national-innovation-and-science-agenda).

As we wait for a little more certainty, our contributors consider the scenarios that are likely and how the future could, or should, be realised for creative arts.


Datastan may sound like a statistician’s dream holiday destination but Sandra Gattenhof’s (QUT) well researched article reveals that it is, in fact, a cause of much of the angst around demonstrating the real impact of the arts. Taking the same topic of research impact and engagement, Tim Cahill (The Conversation) and Julian Meyrick (Flinders) evoke a more agricultural picture as they explain how research indices can produce benefit or chaos for society depending upon how they are conceived and applied.

UK commentator Jenny Waller, draws upon her recent book Art as Extraordinary Science to consider how universities could combat their failure to ‘teach’ innovation if they just listened to their arts teachers.

Vice Chancellor, Warren Bebbington (Adelaide) one of few creative arts academics to attain the university’s highest leadership position, contrasts his own circumstances as a graduating music student with the situation for current arts graduates as he suggests an integrated and shared model for arts education.

Laurene Vaughan (RMIT) turns to the question of how designers can captialise upon the interdisciplinary demands for creativity to ensure that graduates can change and lead future direction.

Sean Lowry’s (VCA, Melbourne) account of Project Anywhere offers a new ‘dissemination’ pathway for creative arts that combines the exhibition and peer review setting suggesting a way forward for research in the art form.

Considering the Australian Government’s history of research evaluation, Datastan may be a location that we will all be visiting this year.

Sandra, Jenny and Laurene have drawn upon their recent books as part of their contributions. Full details for those who wish to learn more are provided in this edition’s news.