Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Show or perish

Apart from the tertiary community itself, the announcement last week of the PBRF (Performance Based Research Funding) evaluations probably passed most people by. And yet with static or diminishing funding from Creative NZ and philanthropy’s flagship Boosted struggling to get traction, what the visual arts get out of the $262.5 million allocated to tertiary research will have a major impact on what we see and read over the coming three or so years.

Here's how it works. Virtually all academic staff have to submit a detailed portfolio of their research over the previous three years for which they are given an A,B or C.. The higher your ranking, the more access to funding you have. In the visual arts this increasingly means highly subsidised or fully funded art works, exhibitions, and publications by university staff.

So how did our art schools fare in this funding gold rush? There are only three horses in this race: University of Auckland, Massey University and AUT. The art schools are part of the subject area Arts and Craft but fortunately this time round both Auckland and Massey also had the results for their art schools recorded separately.

Auckland University art school topped the list with 7 A researchers, 9 B researchers and 6 who came in at C.

Massey’s School of Fine Arts was a close second with 5 A researchers, 10.8 Bs and 8 Cs.

AUT's art and craft subject area results made it third with no A researchers, 6.8 Bs and 49.6 Cs.

The rest didn’t really feature.

The take away? Watch out for more public museum projects, large scale installations, publications and inclusion in cash strapped biennales and exhibitions both at home and abroad by the senior staff at Elam and Massey. The names of these funded rock stars will become more apparent as the years go by.

You can read the full PBRF report here.