Performing Political History: An interview with actor, academic and activist Gary Foley

Professor Gary Foley was a key member of the Aboriginal Black Power Movement and a critical figure in establishing the Aboriginal Embassy protest of 1972. He has been at the centre of major political activities in Australia for more than 45 years. In 2011 and 2012 he created and performed his one man show Foley with Ilbijerri Theatre, Jon Hawkes and Edwina Howell, for the Melbourne Arts Festival and the Sydney Festival. In 2015 he was the recipient of the Australia Council’s Red Ochre Award for a lifetime achievement in the Arts.   Dr Edwina Howell has worked with Professor Foley since 2007.  In this interview for NiTRO she draws out Professor Foley’s long connection with creative practice as a mechanism to bring public attention to the political challenges facing Aboriginal people in Australia.

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The Unkindest Cut(s) of All – the creative arts perspective on current higher education policy

A bleaker aspect of writing for an intellectually self-conscious publication like NiTRO is the obligation to respond rationally to what are, in the end, irrational points of view.  As the political Right dissolves into its constituent pathologies, its policies transmogrify into a mix of prejudice and panic. . . This injects an air of unreality into the policy-making process.  “Data” is obsessively gathered, but selectively deployed.  Some areas of government expenditure must repeatedly account for their “impact”.  Others are judged of self-evident merit and anything that contradicts this is downplayed or ignored.

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Conference Report: DDCA Annual Conference; Melbourne, 22 September 2017

The DDCA’s 2017 conference took place at the Victorian College of the Arts during Melbourne’s recent respite from the cold weather - quite disconcerting for those of us from ‘up north’ who had dressed for the ‘polar extremes’ of our southern states. In a program designed to prompt discussion we welcomed a wide range of artists from within, and outside, academia to consider the theme ‘Beyond Research: Creative Arts in the Impact, Engagement and Innovative Agenda’.

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The rise of the arts leaves learning out in the cold

There is a growing sense that something is happening in the arts and creative sector.  The sector is finding its collective voice at state, national and regional level, with terms such as ‘artist-led’, ‘artist-driven’, ‘sector-driven’ being used in the development of programs and policy. This visibility and attention to the arts and contribution of such to the sector does not appear to be similarly matched in education and learning realms.

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Contingency, instrumentality and social responsibility in creative arts education – what can we do?

A contingent part of the creative economy, tertiary creative arts education has a responsibility to its community of students, alumni and partners, to the broader arts sector and the political landscape that surrounds it. We are therefore subject not just to the politics of cultural policy pertaining to the arts, which affect the forms of support and types of arts forms and practices we include on our curricula, but to education and economic policies which shape the conditions under which we teach and undertake research.

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Art and the Apparatus of Higher Education

The gradual shift from social democracy to neoliberalism in the west since the 1980s has significantly affected the apparatus of higher education. University and college heads have shifted their priorities from developing knowledge through education and research for social benefit, to increasing the wealth of the institution (and their own salaries) through competing for student numbers and positions in league tables.

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Artistic creation during flight and displacement: Out of the Shadows

In August 2017, I curated a week-long festival at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the Seymour Centre, University of Sydney, entitled “Out of the Shadows: rediscovering Jewish music and theatre”. This was the fourth of five festivals staged around the world, part of a large research project called Performing the Jewish Archive, funded by the British Arts & Humanities Research Council.  Together with ten colleagues from three other continents, the research focus was the aesthetic creations of Jewish artists in the 20th century, artists who were affected by persecution, flight and internment.

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Escape from market driven education?

Academics convinced of the folly of user pays systems of education have long complained about the steady decline of equity resulting from the ratchetting effect applied to the HECS scheme since its introduction. This is compounded by the attendant impact on quality as each school and program must approach revenue neutrality through a combination of fees and research income.

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