Fifteen years ago QUT became the first university in the world to establish a Creative Industries Faculty. While the inspiration for this move came largely from developments in the United Kingdom, the concept was adapted and extended for an Australian context by our own leaders in the area, in particular Distinguished Professor Stuart Cunningham and foundation dean Distinguished Professor John Hartley.
Their key insight was that cultural, economic, social and scientific development are intertwined, and better understanding of the structure and dynamics of these relationships is important and useful.
Those of us who backed the idea noticed some initial scepticism. Some saw it as just a rebranding of performing arts and cultural studies, others took umbrage at what they saw as appropriation of the term “creative”. In the early days of this endeavour some engineers asked, perhaps only partly in jest, who was more creative, the engineers who designed and built an aircraft or the artists who decorated it? A debate framed around this question was held at a senior staff conference, and it helped to deepen our understanding of the issues involved.
Today there are few, if any, who hold such reservations. Academics from creative industries work alongside those from science and technology fields, as they do with colleagues from business, education and indeed all areas of QUT. As a university we are proud to model the many ways that technology and creativity are mutual enablers, and to showcase productive and exciting interactions between art and science to the public through events such as Robotronica and facilities such as The Cube. The most recent such event is of course highlighted in this edition of Links, namely the CreateX festival which featured demonstrations of virtual reality, augmented reality, hybrid performance, design, fashion, film and interactive and visual media, and was held to celebrate and accompany the opening of QUT’s $88 million Creative Industries Precinct expansion.
The links between creativity, technology and the future of work and employment are also at the forefront of our thinking about the future of QUT. We have now finalised the fifth iteration of our overarching strategic plan, the QUT Blueprint, and it acknowledges the fundamental importance of fostering human creativity for advancing innovation and enabling graduates not only to adapt to a fast changing world of work, but also to help lead and shape the future. One can only be optimistic about that future when witnessing the enthusiasm and skill which students and staff at QUT invest in events such as CreateX and knowing that this is only a small part of the outstanding work that goes on every day around QUT.
The Creative Industries have stood the test of time at QUT. This is testimony not only to the enduring relevance of the concept which links performance and understanding of the creative arts to the wider world, but also to the depth of our commitment to bringing these ideas to fruition. The Precinct expansion opens a new chapter in this story, one which will cultivate the talents of new generations and help to make all our lives richer.
Professor Peter Coaldrake AO