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Creative and Practice-based Working Group

Over the last decade, a literature on "art-based" and "practice-based" research has integrated creative research in the visual and performing arts with the strategic research directions of postsecondary institutions (Barton, Friberg and Parekh-Gaihede 2010; Smith and Dean, 2009; Sullivan 2009). Such work cuts across departments and disciplines in the academy (Knowles and Cole 2008) to influence research in traditional social science and humanities disciplines, re-imagining or reasserting the role of the visual and performing arts in a research university. This interdisciplinary working group would be positioned at the centre of such an exchange.

Creative research is an umbrella term that distinguishes two primary areas of activity from scholarly research that takes artistic practice as its subject matter (art history, textual studies of drama, music criticism, etc.): 1. art-based research that involves the methodological use of artistic media to research or to represent social experience (Boal's theatre of the oppressed, applications of Photovoice, digital storytelling, or ethnodrama that create visibility and voice for disenfranchised communities); 2. practice-based research that involves knowledge generation by artist researchers grounded in the experience and processes of their creative work (advancing creative practices through new media, technologies or materials, or providing insight into aspects of the creative process).

Critical, qualitative researchers across the human and health sciences have recognized the value of creative research as an epistemologically distinct and embodied research method, and as an affective form of knowledge mobilization and social transformation (Leavey 2008). Evidence of its diffusion can be found in SSHRC's renewed support of "research creation" in their grant structures, in CFI's support of art-based research facilities for teaching and research creation, and in an increased interest nationally and internationally in developing practice-based doctoral degree programs in creative research (Chapman and Sawchuk 2012; Elkins 2009; Loveless 2012; MacLeod and Holdridge 2010). In a Canadian context, the development of scholarly journals such as the Canadian Journal of Practice Based Research in Theatre, or the International Journal of the Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary Practice indicate the emergence of venues for disseminating this research.

In addition to elaborating a robust place for creative research within the University's Strategic Research Plan, and building on its role in the Faculty of Arts Strategic Pan, this group would have a medium term goal of developing a doctoral level research opportunities in creative and practice-based research. The success of such an application is directly related to nurturing a critical mass of faculty and students interested in these approaches to research.


Dr. Bruce Barton, Director, School of Creative and Performing Arts,
Dr. Brian RustedDepartment Head, Department of Art,

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