Arts and culture at ACU

A message from Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven.

A commitment to arts and culture is part of our DNA as both a Catholic and public University. We draw on a long and rich heritage of the Catholic Church as a patron of the arts, in Australia and internationally.

Our activities also reflect ACU’s growing maturity as an ambitious and outward-looking modern University. Promoting arts and culture is a defining characteristic of ‘real’ universities and is crucial to their reputation and standing.

It’s little surprise that our increased focus on arts and culture follows the rapid growth of the University, the major improvements in our research performance and the establishment of our Rome Campus.

Our cataloguing project, which commenced in 2016 following the appointment of our Curator Caroline Field, has also imbued our art collection with new life.  More than 1000 diverse artworks from across our seven campuses have been assessed and catalogued, ensuring the preservation of a cultural asset that promotes the core values of ACU: commitment to truth, academic excellence and service, all within the Catholic intellectual tradition.

In very good news, ACU was recently invited to join the Council of Australian University Art Museums and Collections (CAUMAC), a network of Australian universities that have museums of art presenting regular exhibitions of their historical and contemporary collections.

ACU’s new arts and culture website reflects our strong commitment to arts and culture, and our ambition to considerably extend and enhance our efforts in this sphere into the future.

Visitors to the website can explore the ACU Art Collection via an online catalogue. They can learn about the ACU Prize for Poetry and the Isabel Menton Composition Award. They can read opinion pieces on different aspects of arts and culture at ACU, and beyond. And they can discover some of the new and exciting developments in arts and culture taking place across the University.

We’ve recently established a University Arts and Culture Committee to oversee the activities already underway at ACU, and to plan for the future. I chair this committee, and the convenor of the University’s Arts and Culture Strategy is Professor Michael Ondaatje, National Head of the School of Arts.

Other representatives from across the University include:

  • Vice-President, Father Anthony Casamento
  • Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Innovation, Professor Zlatko Skrbis
  • Associate Vice-Chancellor (QLD), Professor Jim Nyland
  • Chair of Academic Board, Professor Margot Hillel
  • Director, Office of the Vice-Chancellor and President, Ms Simone Chetcuti
  • Art Curator, Ms Caroline Field
  • Director of Libraries, Ms Fides Datu Lawton
  • Director, Properties and Facilities, Mr Michael Tracey

Looking ahead, our focus will be on how to facilitate greater staff and student engagement with arts and culture across our campuses. In this spirit, I am pleased to announce that we will be hosting a major exhibition of highlights from the ACU Art Collection at the ACU Melbourne Galley at the St Patrick’s Campus in Melbourne in mid-2020.

Exhibition 2020 will feature a range of artworks from across our campuses, providing a wonderful opportunity to showcase our collection to the University, our partners and the broader community. More details will be shared with you closer to the exhibition.

In the meantime, I encourage you to enjoy the new pieces of art on display around the campuses, and to visit the new arts and culture website to get a greater appreciation of some of our key arts and culture activities at ACU.

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