Editorial - Watt's Next For Creative Arts?

By Jenny Wilson

Welcome to the first edition of NiTRO, DDCA’s dedicated space for views and news in the tertiary creative arts community. Every six weeks we explore an issue of particular interest to creative artists practicing in the university sector.  Our first edition focuses on the changing higher education landscape as we ask: Watt’s next for creative arts?

2016 has seen a landslide of real and proposed policy changes for research and higher education.  The National Innovation and Science Agenda with its commitment to refocus university research funding to improve university-industry connections; measure collaboration impact and engagement and provide increased support to’ inspire Australians in digital literacy and STEM’, has been bolstered by the adoption of all recommendations made by the Watt Review’s Report on the Review of Research Policy and Funding ArrangementsThis will see incentives to increase business and end-user collaboration,  revisions to the competitive grant criteria and research block grant funding formula, which is still the subject of consultation. The contribution of the arts in Australia is conspicuous by its absence in the innovation discussion.

In the broader higher education policy and funding arena, as Labor hints at a pre-Dawkins return the government’s consultation Driving Innovation, Fairness and Excellence in Australian Higher Education due to close in July, reprises many of the 2015 discussions surrounding the future direction of higher education. Meanwhile, the Office of Learning and Teaching, one of the few government higher education agencies that have funded creative arts advancement,  is no more.

Certainly for staff at the Sydney College of the Arts, Ausdance and the Tertiary Dance Council of Australia the new environment is one of challenge and uncertainty


In This Edition of NiTRO

In this edition of NiTRO, Contributors from the higher education and arts sector consider how creative arts disciplines are positioned in this rapidly changing landscape.

Monash Vice Chancellor Margaret Gardner AO, one of the inspirational drivers of the OLT and its predecessors, laments its closure but sees its legacy as one which will continue.

Strategic thinkers Tim Cahill and Julian Meyrick delve into the complexities of evaluation measurement to see how creative arts and HASS contributions can be included in the engagement agenda; Julie Hare, Higher Education Editor at The Australian explores how artists in residence are contributing to the ‘translational science’ agenda.

Lynn Churchill and Jill Franz from IDEA’s executive reinforce the need for new strategic manoeuvres for design practice and research sustainability;  ACUADS executives Denise Ferris and Marie Sierra consider the ‘grave consequences’ posed by the National Innovation and Science agenda, but see a possible light at the end of the tunnel: AAWP’s views are represented by President Lynda Hawryluk who notes a misfit between importance of creativity and clear communication valued by business and the lack of recognition of these skills by government. ASPERA Director John Cumming and Craig Batty provide a forensic assessment of NISA and the higher education funding changes that points to continued neglect of film and screen production education and research.

Together our contributors present a picture of challenges ahead but one which has positive opportunities for creative arts if we can present that strong cohesive voice that DDCA President Su Baker encourages in her introduction to this first edition of NiTRO

Also in this edition

Also check out our news and resources pages for updates on national and international developments, events and resources recommended by DDCA members.


Your Views?

Is it all doom and gloom or are there opportunities for the creative arts to shine in the innovation agenda?  Does collaboration with non-arts disciplines offer a positive way forward or reinforce a second class research identity?  Are there examples of universities positively reinforcing the future direction for creative arts?

Do you have research that you would like to share, information on past or upcoming events, reviews of new books, websites or articles of interest; or news on issues that are affecting creative arts that you want to raise?

Join the discussion by contributing your hopes and fears for creative arts in this ‘new’ innovation era.  We also look forward to your articles for our next edition on research and creative arts.