CHASS Newsletter #16

In this issue

  1. Ministerial intervention on ARC grants
  2. “To hell with culture”
  3. Diversity in university sector
  4. Learning and teaching performance fund
  5. OZCO: Arts rippa and new media
  7. The RQF, impact and the visual and performing arts
  8. Interested in being on the ARC college of experts?
  9. CHASS membership subscriptions
  10. PM: No to medals – but what about the order of Australia?
  11. Cross-disciplinary project
  12. Workshop on school music

1. Ministerial intervention on ARC grants

The Monthly has given us permission to post on our website Gideon Haigh’s article on the former Minster’s role in scrapping ARC research grants. Here’s a sample:

“At the end of 2004, there’d been a bit of an attitude from the other disciplines of: “Well, humanities people are wankers, Nelson was probably right.” But the second time, when the social sciences as well as the humanities were questioned, there were rumours that science would be scrutinised as well.

“Other people started saying: “What’s going on?” In fact, the position I took with people in science was to say: “What’s the position going to be in a few years on stem cell research? All you need’s a shift in the politics to be in the same position.” (Graeme Turner, quoted in the article.)

2. “To hell with culture”

How has culture fallen into bad odour with politicians? How can public support be enlisted? Why is culture important, and how can its value be explained? Who has to be persuaded, and what are the best tactics for each audience? Is it just Australia?

“To Hell with Culture” will address these questions, at an afternoon seminar in Melbourne on Thursday 10 August. Victoria College of the Arts; 3 pm to 6.30; optional drinks and book launch at 6.30 pm. Registration is $55.

John Holden, Head of Culture at Demos in London, and Stuart Cunningham, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation at Queensland University of Technology, are the main speakers.

There will be a discussion, a debate, a panel of respondents, and an opportunity to comment and ask questions. Further information at the CHASS web site.

Demos describes itself as “a think tank for everyday democracy.”

3. Diversity in university sector,/p>

Education Minister Julie Bishop announced on 7 July that the state, territory and federal ministers of education had agreed to a new set of protocols for approval of higher education institutions. CHASS has advocated that the excessive uniformity that has resulted from the unified national system needs to be challenged, and it be possible for specialist universities also to be recognized.

This has now been agreed upon in these new protocols, so we may one day see specialist medical or creative-arts or theological universities. CHASS sees this as a healthy step towards a more diverse university sector. Despite the theoretical example of a “Sydney University of Performing Arts”, given in Minister Bishop’s press release, CHASS has not claimed any particular present need for such a university, in Sydney or elsewhere.

4. Learning and teaching performance fund

Ministerial release on 9 July
“Last year excellence in teaching and learning was recognised on a whole-ofinstitution basis. The most significant change will be to allocate the $82 million available for 2007 on the basis of four broad discipline areas:

  • science, computing, engineering, architecture and agriculture;
  • business, law and economics;
  • humanities, arts and education; and
  • health.

“The discipline-oriented format will encourage universities to play to their strengths and focus their teaching and learning efforts in particular areas,” Minister Bishop said.

5. OZCO: Arts rippa and new media

Arts RiPPA (Arts Research in Progress or Planned Across Australia) is a publication of the Australia Council for the Arts. Now it’s going online.

The new database will keep you ‘in the know’ about current research; enable you to promote your own research findings; offer access to new publications; and help identify who does what in this field. There’s also a newsletter.

Register your research project in the arts, by downloading the entry form. To join the arts research network, contact Natasha Eves on (02) 9215 9175 or evesn [at]

The Australia Council for the Arts has released a discussion paper for consideration and comment by interested new media artists, arts organisations and arts stakeholders.

Please note the closing date for written submissions is 3 August 2006. These can be lodged at nmascopingstudy [at]


Our AGM will be held at 4 pm on Tuesday 19 September. The meeting will be in Sydney, and the venue announced shortly.

According to CHASS practice, a search committee will recommend to the AGM a slate of candidates for election to the Board. This does not preclude any Member nominating other candidates at the AGM itself.

7. The RQF, impact and the visual and performing arts

CHASS is convening a workshop in Melbourne on Tuesday September 26, at the Victoria College of the Arts. It aims to strengthen the network of university-based peak bodies whose constituents are the major providers of these courses. The program will provide a forum for an update on developments and discussion about issues of defining research, research outcomes and the measurement of impact in the visual and performing arts as it relates to the RQF.

8. Interested in being on the ARC College of Experts?

The ARC is calling for nominations for appointment to its College of Experts in 2007. The College provides strategic advice and assesses and ranks ARC grant applications.

The ARC advises that nominees must be nominated by their primary employer, because membership requires a commitment of time.

9. CHASS membership subscriptions

We have written to all Members about the need to introduce a new subscription rate:

“Now it is time for the Members of CHASS to become the major stakeholders in our own enterprise. The initial stages of our operation have been supported by a grant from DEST, but now we need to move to a new subscription model which makes our organisation sustainable in the long term.”

We will be issuing subscription notices for 2006-07 by July 31, once our office has completed negotiations with Members.

10. PM: No to medals – but what about the order of Australia?

The PM’s office does not want to institute a medal system to recognise the achievements of people and organisations working in the humanities, arts and social sciences, but suggested instead the Order of Australia, as a suitable vehicle for this recognition.

So we did some research. 2200 people were nominated in 2006. Male nominations are double those of female and the success rate is about 60%. The data was split into 30 broad fields and half the nominations were in the category “community”, with “medical” and “sport” the next biggest.

It is hard to identify HASS nominees from these categories, but Architecture, Library, Law, Media and Communication and Religion totalled about 0.7% of nominations.

We will soon be posting tips on our website tips on how to make an effective nomination.

11. Cross-disciplinary project

The draft report on collaborations between the HASS and STEM (sciencetechnology- engineering-medicine) will be delivered to CHASS by the consultants next week.

After a period for comment and editing, the report is expected to be launched in September.

The consultants report that 800 people responded to the on-line survey and that interest in the project has been huge.

12. Workshop on school music

Julie Bishop has announced that a National Music Workshop will be held in August to consider the findings of the National Review of School Music Education.

The National Music Workshop will be held in Melbourne on 27 and 28 August 2006. It will be organised by the Australian Music Association and sponsored by the Australian Government.

The Government’s initial response to the National Review of School Music Education was released in November 2005.

Malcolm Gillies
31 July 2006

For more information, please contact:
Toss Gascoigne
Executive Director
Council of the Humanties, Arts and Social Sciences
Phone: +61 2 6249 1995