Preparing Artists to Save the World: Community-Engaged Arts Practice as Critical Pedagogy

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The sustained marginalisation of creative arts in higher education in Australia risks the delivery of superficial learning experiences that are disconnected from the relationality of place, people, and histories. The metrics used to assess a university’s capacity to produce “job-ready graduates” does not adequately capture the success of students in the creative arts, leading to under resourcing in these disciplines and, ironically, limiting the capacity of these disciplines to train students adequately for their industry. In this paper, we examine the place of community-engaged creative practice and cultural policy learning in universities to ask how tertiary educators can support students to develop industry skills while also embodying a critically engaged pedagogy in order to work and create in the industry in ways that prioritise relationality, context and an ethic of care. Community-engaged arts practice can be understood as that which privileges collaborative processes, values people over institutions, is contextually grounded, and understands creative excellence as intricately entangled in social and relational outcomes. We argue that community-engaged arts practice is a form of critical pedagogy and, potentially, vice versa. We share two case studies of creative arts learning experiences in our university as examples of the powerful crossover between community-engaged arts practice and critical pedagogies in our endeavour to train effective, and impactful creative arts workers in sustainable and ethical practice via a critically engaged creative practice pedagogy.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalCritical Arts
Early online date19 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Apr 2024


  • creative arts pedagogies
  • community-engaged practice
  • relationality
  • ethic of care
  • cultural policy
  • engaged practice
  • cultural policy studies
  • Arts practice


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