What do artists bring to research?

ENQUIRING MINDS: WHAT ARTISTS CAN BRING TO GOVERNMENT AND INDUSTRY RESEARCH

 It’s conference season as we speed toward the end of the year. The Australian Academy of the Humanities hosted their 51st Symposium At the Crossroad? Australia’s Cultural Future. The aim was to facilitate conversations about the transformations needed to secure Australia’s cultural and creative future. It brought researchers, practitioners, creators and policy makers together to consider how innovative cultural policy settings and creative practice could together underpin a path to recovery, for people and communities.

Photo of my screen as we began our webinar

It was such a buzz to be on a panel as part of a satellite session, hosted by The Australia Council for the Arts, exploring the intersections between creative practice, research, industry and government. With me were Pat Grant (UTS): writer, illustrator and author of two graphic novels; Gabriel Clark (UTS): designer, photographer and producer of multimedia storytelling events and Alon Ilsar: drummer, composer, instrument designer and researcher. Our brief was to reflect on the skills artists bring to a research project and to consider the ways in which artists’ predisposition to enquiry, creative thinking, and their ability to communicate ideas could be more intimately involved in research. The panel was beautifully organised and facilitated by Christen Cornell.

Christen asked us to consider questions including: What might be the outcomes of allowing artists to creatively analyse data? How might artists’ creative communication of findings open onto new audiences, such as those who are unlikely or unable to read traditional research reports?

These questions have relevance for access and inclusion, with alternative research outputs for example audio-based (see Alon’s work), or visual representation (Pat and Gabe’s work). They also raise further questions about opportunities for artists interested in working in cross-sectoral industry settings.

Cultural safety in the arts

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Robyn Higgins and I wrote a chapter about cultural safety in the arts in an exciting new book about community engaged arts practice The Relationship is the Project edited by Jade Lillie with Kate Larsen, Cara Kirkwood and Jax Jacki Brown.

Image from the cover of the book The Relationship is the Project. The book is on a wooden table.

It is exciting to be in such a fabulous line up with folks like Genevieve Grieves about working in First Nations contexts; Caroline Bowditch on access and disability; Dianne Jones, Odette Kelada and Lilly Brown on racial literacy; and other contributors including: Esther Anatolitis, Adolfo Aranjuez, Paschal Berry, Lenine Bourke, Tania Cañas, Rosie Dennis, Alia Gabres, Eleanor Jackson, Samuel Kanaan-Oringo, Fotis Kapetopoulos, Kate Larsen, Lia Pa’apa’a, Anna Reece, Daniel Santangeli, and Jade Lillie.

Table of contents from the book The Relationship is the Project

Here’s a tiny excerpt from our chapter to whet your appetite.

Why do we need cultural safety?
Australia is a white settler colony in which British invasion and colonisation have institutionalised whiteness. Like other sectors, this history is strongly reflected in the arts, including the ways our practitioners, organisations and institutions develop and deliver projects in collaboration with artists and communities.
Arts organisations often prioritise and centre whiteness. For people and communities who are not white, these organisations may not be seen as appropriate, accessible or acceptable, which can prevent participation and engagement.

Since I wrote this post the chapter has been edited and reprinted twice:

Artshub: Taking action for cultural safety and in The Arts Wellbeing Collective in their publication: Spotlight: The Arts Wellbeing Collective magazine – Edition 2 

 

 

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