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What majors can I study?
The following are just some of the majors you can study in this
What you’re in for
The excitement and glamour of the visual and performing arts
have great appeal, especially when you’re young and talented.
The rebranding of creative arts as the ‘creative industries’ in
some institutions has led to a shift in the profile of the field. Where
the arts used to be confined to museums and galleries, there is
now talk of the ‘creative economy’ driving all types of business
and organisations. Thanks to the digital medium, more artists
now work in corporations as well as in studios, with a significant
number of those qualified in creative arts working outside
specialist creative organisations. This also reflects a new
appreciation of the arts as a potential export industry, following
the high-profile growth of Australia’s popularity as a film
production entity and the internationally renowned success of
many Australian artists, including actors and animators.
For more information about careers in this field, visit the
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance website at
If you are interested in this field you may also consider
browsing through some of the specialisations in humanities and
social sciences, communications and education and training.
Courses and specialisations
This field contains a wonderful array of course options, not only in
the visual and performing arts, but also in technical fields
associated with artistic production and others that utilise
advanced technology, such as multimedia, digital and graphic
Most people in the visual and performing arts industry work in
backstage roles that range from film design and sound production
to administration, so there are courses to reflect this side of the
business as well. If you’re concerned about getting a job and
ensuring a secure future, you might consider specialising in an
area like graphic design, which is artistic but still gives you the
chance to work outside the arts in businesses or private firms, as
well as on a freelance basis.
Where to study
So, where do you go to become an animator, graphic designer,
photographer, opera singer or circus performer? Universities are
one option, although they have not always been the traditional
territory for visual and performing artists. Some have inherited or
incorporated specialist colleges of art or performing arts, which
date back many years. Some of these specialist schools are
among the most prestigious in the country, whether for visual arts,
dramatic arts or music. This is also one of the fields in which
small, specialist private providers are often the brightest stars in
the education galaxy.
This is not a field where you’ll be in lectures all day long,
meaning that the physical infrastructure, experience of teaching
staff and opportunities to exhibit and perform are going to be vital.
Make sure you check out what’s on offer at each institution.
Courses will often include activities such as performances and
studio and gallery visits. Some specialist institutions even have
their own resident artists and galleries, which immerse and
nurture students within a real artistic community.
Entry into some courses in this field is highly competitive, and
courses involving performance or production require auditions or
portfolios that display your work and talents. In many cases
applications go directly to the institution rather than through the
tertiary admissions centres.
To compare entry difficulty and the cost of Commonwealth
Supported Places (CSPs) at different institutions, see ‘What’s on
offer and who’s there’. Note that while public universities only
offer CSPs, private higher education providers may offer full-fee
places in this field.
Providing an additional incentive to study in this field, the ArtStart
program provides financial help to recent creative arts graduates
who wish to establish a career in the industry. Graduates who
plan to ‘earn an income, start a small arts business or gain
employment as a professional artist in the visual arts, hybrid and
media arts, performing arts, literature or as a community cultural
development artist’ are eligible to apply for a grant. Grants are
also provided to fund business and career opportunities, which
may cover equipment, resources, services and skills
development. While career opportunities in the creative arts
industry may be on the bleak side, initiatives such as this show
that there are opportunities for success within the field.
To find out which higher education providers have courses with these
specialisations, use the Index on page 562.
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