DDCA welcomes new board members

2019 brings a change of faces to the Australian Council of Deans and Directors of Creative Arts (DDCA) Board. We say a fond farewell to board members Sarah Miller (Wollongong), Matthew Allen (Deakin), Kim Vincs (Swinburne) and co-opted members Frank Millward and Bruce Watson who stepped down from their roles at the end of 2018. Here at NiTRO we thank them for their inspiration and enthusiasm and will miss their camaraderie.

DDCA’s continuing board members will be joined by Craig Batty, David Cross and Cat Hope.

Professor Craig Batty

Professor Craig Batty

Professor Craig Batty was recently appointed as Head of Creative Writing at the University of Technology Sydney, moving from RMIT University where he had spent 7 years as Creative Practice Research Leader and HDR Director, Specialising in screenwriting practice (craft and research),

Craig is passionate about creative practice research broadly, and creative doctorates specifically. He has published widely on both, including the recent co-edited book, Screen Production Research: Creative Practice as a Mode of Enquiry (2018), andScreenwriters and Screenwriting: Putting Practice into Context (2014). He is currently researching the screenwriting doctorate. Craig is Chair of the Australian Screen Production Education and Research Association (ASPERA) Research Sub-Committee, and head of the research portfolio for the Australian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP).

In his role with the DDCA, he hopes to bring more prominence to the areas of screen production and creative writing, which are important disciplines within the DDCA community. Passionate about HDR supervision, he also hopes to create opportunities for enhancing the research training of creative candidates, especially in a constantly shifting landscape where Government imperatives are forcing universities to re-conceptualise how they structure and supervise research degrees.


Professor David Cross

Professor David Cross

Professor David Cross is an educator, curator, artist, writer and public art consultant. His  art practice extends across performance, installation, sculpture, public art and video and is known for his inflatable structures and for the ways in which the work examines risk, pleasure and inter-personal exchange. 

He founded Litmus Research initiative at Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand in 2007, an organisation focused on the commissioning and scholarship of public art. Litmus produced a number of ground breaking public art projects including One Day Sculpture http://www.onedaysculpture.org.nz a 1.5 million dollar series of temporary public artworks that took place across five cities in New Zealand in 2008/9.

He was the CAST 2011 international curator in residence in Hobart where he developed Iteration:Again 13 Public Artworks Across Tasmania http://www.iterationagain.com He was Deputy Chair of the City of Melbourne Public Art Advisory Board in 2015/6 and a former arts-sector advisor for Creative New Zealand. Since 2014 he has been Professor of Art and Performance at Deakin University where he recently developed Treatment: Six Public Artworks at Western Treatment Plant (2015) and was artistic director for the sophomore exhibition Treatment Flightlines (2017). The book of treatment published by Surpplus was published in March 2017. 

In 2017, along with Claire Doherty he convened the Melbourne Biennial lab. He has published extensively on public and contemporary art and the monograph on his practice Air Supplied was published in 2016 by Punctum books. In 2018 he founded with Katya Johansen Public Art Commission, a research initiative at Deakin University focusing on the making and scholarship of temporary public artworks.


Professor Cat Hope

Professor Cat Hope

Professor Cat Hope is an artist scholar with an active profile as a composer, sound artist, soloist and performer in music groups internationally. She is the director of the award winning new music ensemble Decibel that focuses on digital graphic notations.

Cat’s composition and performance practices focus on low frequency sound, drone, noise and improvisation and has been discussed in books such as Loading the Silence (Kouvaris, 2013), Women of Note (Appleby, 2012), Sounding Postmodernism (Bennett, 2011) as well as periodicals such as The Wire, Limelight, and Neu Zeitschrift Fur Musik Shaft.

In 2013 she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study digital graphic music notations internationally, and she is a Fellow of Civitella Ranieri. Cat is the co- author of ‘Digital Arts - An introduction to New Media’ (Bloomsbury, 2014) and is Professor of Music and Head of School at the Zelman Cowen School of Music at Monash University. 

Craig and Cat are already contributors to NiTRO and we look forward to hearing from all three over the coming months.

US and UK museums and galleries face protests over ethics of philanthropy gifts

Major art galleries and museums in the UK and US are being challenged to consider the ethics of their gift acceptance policies following a wave of protests.

In the UK, 350 protesters occupied the British Museum to protest the Museum’s sponsorship relationship, and particularly its sponsorship of its I am Ashurbanipal exhibition which features Ottoman artifacts removed from modern day Iraq. Campaigner Yasmin Younis is reported as saying: “When I saw there would be a special exhibition on my culture and my history I was ecstatic … but finding out the sponsor was BP was a massive slap in the face. These are the very same sponsors who advocated for the war which destroyed my homeland and slaughtered my people all in the name of oil.” ¹

Meanwhile in New York, the Guggenheim and Metropolitan Art Museum were both targeted by protests against their policies of accepting funding from the Sackler Family whose money comes from the pharmaceutical manufacture of the drug Oxycontin a product which is currently the subject of lawsuits and public outrage as a significant contributor to the US ‘Opioid crisis’. ²

The Met has instigated a review of its gift acceptance policy and promised to report back.

1) https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2019/feb/16/campaigners-protest-against-bp-sponsorship-of-british-museum

2) https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/feb/10/anti-opioid-protesters-target-new-yorks-guggenheim-over-sackler-family-link

NSW Labor promises arts boost

Labor is promising regional NSW a comprehensive arts and culture policy as part of its pitch to voters for the upcoming State election and has committed to improving the live music situation for the state.

It commits to improving support for regional arts and culture by:

  • Doubling the Regional Cultural Fund to $200 million;

  • Providing improved funding for public libraries in country towns; and

  • Introducing a $40 million Regional Conservatorium fund to support music education in the bush

If elected, Labor has promised to work with  Create NSW and stakeholders to develop a Strategy for the Arts in Rural and Regional NSW within six months of forming government.

It has also launches its policy plan for music venues to counter what it calls the ‘venue crisis’  of the ongoing closures in NSW.  The proposed ‘Right to Play’ music venue policy will :

  • Make changes to the Liquor Act to create a new class of licence specifically for venues dedicated to live entertainment;

  • Create a one-stop shop to deal with noise complaints, and streamline complex noise regulations

  • Improve the process for venues to obtain planning and liquor approvals to significantly reduce wait times for venues;

  • Create a Minister for Music and Night Time Economy, and hold regular roundtable discussions

  • Conduct a census to establish the number of venues, musicians and performances that take place at any given time in NSW; and

  • Provide practical assistance for venues with a new $1.2 million programme to venues to assist with soundproofing.

Australian Research Council performance audit

The Australian National Audit Office has commenced an audit of the ARC’s performance in administration of the National Competitive Grants Program and invites public contributions related to the specific questions of its terms of reference:

  1. Do the NCGP guidelines align with the Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines (CGRGs) and government objectives in relation to research and innovation?

  2. Do the ARC’s grant assessment processes comply with the NCGP guidelines?

  3. Has the ARC implemented effective monitoring, assurance, evaluation and reporting arrangements for the NCGP?

Submissions will be accepted until 31 March 2019 and further information is available at: https://www.anao.gov.au/work/performance-audit/australian-research-council-administration-national-competitive-grants-program

PM’s Literary Awards closes 15 March

Tertiary creative writers still have a few days to get their applications in for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards which closes on 15 March. Emerging and established writers and illustrators can submit their applications in six categories:

  • children’s literature

  • young adult literature

  • fiction

  • poetry

  • non-fiction

  • Australian history

Prize money is awarded in each category with up to $80,000 for winners and $5,000 for shortlisted books. 

Further details are available at: https://www.arts.gov.au/documents/prime-ministers-literary-awards-2019-application-guidelines

UK research project to track arts engagement impact over 25 years

De Montfort University and Arts Council England are embarking on an ambitious research project to track the impact of regular engagement with arts activities over time - from birth to age 25 years. The project Talent25 will provide rigorous evidence of what works and doesn't work when it comes to arts and cultural  development policy.

The scheme will recruit 100 babies and their families in 2019 and track them for the next 25 years and consider activities such as being read to and reading, listening to and learning music, going to the cinema, theatre, libraries and museums. Another 100 will be recruited in 2020, and so on for at least two more years.

Further details on the project are available at: www.dmu.ac.uk/current-students/hot-topics/2019/january/talent25-collaboration-between-dmu-and-arts-council-england.aspx

ARC to review Australian Science and Research Priorities

A panel of experts has been established to review the 2015 Science and Research Priorities as they apply to the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP). The panel will consider

  • how the existing priorities are used in the NCGP process;

  • whether the structure of the existing priorities appropriately supports the NCGP process;

  • areas in which Australia exhibits research strength, or which present opportunities to establish Australia as a world leader in research as identified by the ARC’s Excellence in Research for Australia report;

  • areas of strategic priority that have been identified by Australia’s Learned Academies;

  • how the ARC’s use of the priorities relates to government science, research and innovation strategies, for example, as outlined in the 2017 National Science Statement and Innovation and Science Australia’s Australia 2030: Prosperity Through Innovation;

  • how the ARC’s use of the priorities compares to other Commonwealth research funding programs.

The panel which includes members of the current ARC Advisory Council includes:

  • Professor Sue Thomas – Chief Executive Officer, ARC (Chair)

  • Professor Deborah Terry AO – Vice-Chancellor, Curtin University

  • Professor David Lloyd – Vice-Chancellor, University of South Australia

  • Professor Kevin Hall – Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice President, Global Engagement and Partnerships, University of Newcastle

  • Professor Duncan Ivison – Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, University of Sydney

  • Ms Lynley Marshall – Chief Executive Officer, Museums Victoria

  • Mr Mark McKenzie – Director and Chair, Council of Small Business Australia

  • Professor Cindy Shannon – Professor of Indigenous Health, Queensland University of Technology.

  • Dr Michele Bruniges AM (Secretary, Department of Education and Training) or delegate

  • Dr Alan Finkel AO (Australia’s Chief Scientist)

  • Professor Anne Kelso AO (Chief Executive Officer, National Health and Medical Research Council).

The panel will also consider other reviews of the priorities as well as stakeholder consultation and feedback and will report back by the end of July 2019.

UNSW Art & Design ANNUAL 18 Graduate Exhibition

Image courtesy UNSW A&D

Image courtesy UNSW A&D

Opening to the public on Tuesday 27th from 5pm, UNSW Art & Design's ANNUAL Graduate Exhibition is Australia's largest and most diverse showcase of graduate contemporary art, design and creative media work.

The A&D ANNUAL 18 features an unmatched array of exciting new work from participating creatives, including: animation, film, photography, sound, digital media, and graphic design, as well as painting, sculpture, object design, printmaking, textiles, spatial design, ceramics, jewellery, and more.

This year up to 200 emerging creative practitioners will present their final projects across seven venues, including UNSW Galleries, Kudos Gallery, AD Space, Black Box, Interactive Media Lab, The Lecture Theatre and Makerspace: Virtual Reality Lab.

Annual 18. courtesy UNSW A&D

Annual 18. courtesy UNSW A&D

We are always excited to reconnect with UNSW alumni on our Paddington campus. All UNSW alumni who RSVP will receive a free drink upon arrival.

Vale Richard Gill AO

In late October we heard the sad news that conductor, composer and Sydney Conservatorium educator Richard Gill passed away. We thank Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney for their kind permission to share their moving acknowledgement of the contribution that he made to Australian music. 

A lifetime championing music education

Maestro Richard Gill has passed away at the age of 76, leaving behind a legacy of contribution to Australian orchestras, choirs, opera and music education.

The Sydney Conservatorium of Music community mourns the loss of celebrated conductor, composer and educator Richard Gill AO. On Saturday 28 October, over 70 musicians, including many from the Conservatorium, gathered on the street outside his inner-west home to perform his favourite song, The Dam Busters March. Richard passed away the following day.

“It is with great sadness that our musical community has heard of the passing of Richard Gill,” Conservatorium Head of School and Dean, Professor Anna Reid stated. “There is not a staff member, student or musician from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music that has not had a stunning and positive musical encounter with him.”

Richard came to music later than most, taking his first piano lesson at 13. After deciding to pursue ambitions to become a concert pianist, he auditioned for the Sydney Conservatorium of Music only to be told he needed to complete Grade 6 theory before he would be considered. He did it, and this time he got in.

“It was like mecca; the Conservatorium was the ultimate in music training,” he told the ABC.

“My first day there was truly amazing, I had my lesson at two o’clock with Dallas Haslam, who was a fantastic teacher and that was truly one of the most terrifying experiences in my life. At six o’clock we had choir and we did the Plague Chorus from Handel's Israel in Egypt. I had never held a piece of choral music in my hand before … all my music had been learned by ear … so that was my first sight-reading lesson.”

After graduating with a music education degree in the early 1960s, he went on to study at the Orff Institute of the Mozarteum in Salzburg. He then returned to the Sydney Conservatorium of Music from 1975 to 1982 to teach, leaving many within Australia’s music community with fond memories of their time as his student.

“I always considered him the best teacher I had when I was a student – without him I would never have been able to walk in two, clap in three, move my head in five, and sing in solfege all at the same time," Professor Anna Reid said.  

She continued, “We have all experienced his passion for music and education and he has formed us into who we are today.”

He went on to become one of Australia’s leading authorities in the Orff Schulwerk method of music education. Richard believed all children should have access to music education and championed this teaching philosophy, which breaks down the barriers between learning and play.

Among many other significant leadership positions, Richard was made Dean of the Western Australian Conservatorium of Music in 1984 and Director of Chorus for Opera Australia in 1990. He founded Victorian Opera in 2005 and in 2014 he was appointed as Musical Director of Sydney Chamber Choir.

Richard Gill has gifted generations of musicians with his infectious passion, and the Conservatorium endeavours to continue supporting his vision for all children to have the opportunity to learn from a qualified music teacher. 

“We can only give our thanks for the time we have had with him and celebrate the simply incalculable contribution he has made to music,” Professor Reid said.

Reproduced with permission from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, The University of Sydney. (https://sydney.edu.au/music/news-and-events/2018/10/30/vale-richard-gill-oam.html)

Cultural and creative activity worth over $111 billion to Australia’s economy in 2016-17

New analysis released by the Bureau for Communications and Arts Research (BCAR) shows that in 2016-17 cultural and creative activity contributed $111.7 billion to the Australian economy with the largest contributors being design and fashion. Although this represents 6.4 percent of GDP, the report notes that this is actually a decline from 2008-9 when cultural and creative activity represented 6.9 percent of GDP. The working paper includes statistical comparisons and analysis of the period 2008-9 to 2016-17, including by cultural and creative activity domain. It is available at: https://www.communications.gov.au/publications/cultural-and-creative-activity-australia-2008-09-2016-17