Building Visual Artists’ Resilience Capabilities

Enrolments in higher education programs in the creative and performing arts are increasing in many countries. Yet graduates of these degrees, who enter the broad sector known as the creative industries, face particular challenges in terms of securing long-term and sustainable employment. In addition, creative and performing artists face a range of mental challenges, caused by such factors as: the solitary nature of much creative practice, critical feedback by audiences and gatekeepers, or the general pressures associated with maintaining artistic relevance or integrity. The concepts of resilience and professional wellbeing are therefore highly relevant to those who pursue a career in creative industries, and while there has been an emerging body of work in this area, to date it has focussed on the performing arts area (e.g. music, theatre). Hence, in order to expand knowledge relevant to resilience and artists, this paper sets out to explore the extent to which current educators in the Australian context specifically address these issues within higher visual arts curricula; specifically the areas of illustration, design, film and photography. This was achieved via interviews with seventeen current academics working in these areas. The findings propose that higher education providers of programs in the visual arts consider placing a stronger emphasis on the embedded development of resilience and professional wellbeing capacities.

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