By Dr Jenny Wilson
As many in creative arts grappled with the amalgamation challenges of the 90s, few were aware that the Dawkins reforms also had increased the centrality of research to university funding. This ‘blissful ignorance’ was not to last.
In subsequent decades, as the number of creative arts staff and student researchers grew, research performance increased its influence on school funding and academic careers, triggering an ongoing quest to equitably and comfortably position creative arts within the university research agenda. New terminologies for creative arts research endeavour emerged, and evaluation processes and criteria evolved to capture, weight and balance the practice and exegetical aspects of creative arts. But the relationship between arts practice and research remains unsettled, and research projects centred on improved artistic practice remain woefully under represented in academic research funding programs.
In This Edition Of Nitro
In this edition of NiTRO, we consider some of the issues surrounding the relationship between creative arts practice and research.
Jenny Wilson quizzes Henk Borgdorff, President of the Society for Artistic Research, on his understanding of artistic research, a term which is gaining traction in Australia as the report on a recent artistic research symposium by Rob Burke (Monash) and Andrys Onsman (Melbourne) demonstrates.
For many, US scholar Graeme Sullivan (Penn State University School of Visual Arts) will need no introduction. His book ‘Art Practice as Research; Inquiry in the Visual Arts’ has become one of the seminal works on art and research. In a provocatively titled contribution, Graeme argues that the value and strength of the arts is precisely due to the challenge it presents to typical expectations of research.
Closer to home, Leo Berkeley (RMIT) considers the practicalities of peer review in film, Barbara Bolt (VCA) and Estelle Barrett (Deakin) focus on the relationship between research and contemporary art, while Cheryl Stock (NIDA) reveals the particularities of practice and research in dance. Jeri Kroll (Flinders) turns to the question of knowledge creation and transmission in the arts as she asks ‘Do we aim for questions or answers?’ In their article, Paul Draper and Scott Harrison (Queensland Conservatorium) approach the research topic from the position of the postgraduate researcher, while Brad Buckley (Sydney) and John Conomos (VCA) outline the concept of STEM to STEAM as essential to the future of innovation. Ross Woodrow (Griffith) argues that the demise of HERDC criteria should catalyse a more equitable university process for evaluating non traditional research outputs and Danny Butt (VCA) invites us to consider what role the critic can play in the artistic knowledge exposition.
Considering the topic from the university management perspective, Margaret Sheil (Melbourne), draws upon her own academic background as a scientist to observe the relationship between university systems and creative arts as one which can achieve a sustainable balance.
Also in this edition
Kate Tregloan (Monash) and Kit Wise (Tasmania) report on the Multiple Measures benchmarking project for improving interdisciplinary learning.
Jenny Wilson (DDCA) accompanied by Mandy Thomas (QUT) takes a tour of QUT’s new $90 million Creative Industries Building.
On a sadder note, Denise Ferris (ANU) remembers Canberra artist and designer Rob Foster whose sudden death last month leaves a gap in the ANU and Canberra arts community.
Has ERA solved the major challenges for creative arts research in Australia or are there still bridges to cross? Does it help to have specific terms to describe our research? How can we help our university systems to better reflect the nature of creative arts research?
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 to our next edition of NiTRO which looks at how the relationship between academia and artistic practice has impacted upon the teaching curriculum, our engagement with practitioners and the nature of art itself.