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rt92 - education and the arts

The Federal Government’s Excellence in Research for Australia scheme, which will, for purposes of promotion and funding, credit artist-academics for their creations, and the ArtStart initiative, which will fund recent creative arts graduates towards realising their careers, are both still formative but will be quickly implemented. They have been welcomed with a mix of relief, optimism, scepticism and anxiety by academics and artists. As the writers for our 2009 arts education feature quickly discovered, it is going to be difficult to have ERA evenly applied, or for peer review criteria and methodologies and journal rankings to be uniformly agreed to. Then, for the performing arts there’s a need for ERA to recognise the importance of collaboration and interdisciplinary practices—some of our interviewees propose a science or social science team-based research model rather than a humanities-based one. Flinders University has been working on developing a collaborative postgraduate feature filmmaking model. Anxiety over ArtStart is focused on a national arts infrastructure inadequate to meet the long-term employment needs of ArtStart grant recipients, once over 30 years of age, and the thousands graduating annually in creative arts, let alone older artists working hard at survival. Meanwhile the issue of artists on welfare and their standing with the Australian Taxation Office will remain unaddressed, supplanted by yet another grant scheme. The creative arts seem set, at long last, to be formally recognised in the tertiary education sector, but is there an ‘arts industry’ and the arts infrastructure sufficient to support those it nurtures? On the other hand some of our respondents fear that ArtStart will too easily adopt identifiable goals around ‘business’ and ‘vocation’, neglecting, as one academic puts it, the requisite ‘meaninglessness’ of art. ERA and ArtStart represent very welcome, major changes in Federal Government attitudes to the arts but, as ever, the significance will reside in their implementation.

RealTime issue #92 Aug-Sept 2009 pg. 1

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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