Creative Arts, Critical Cultures

Centre for Creative Arts & Critical Cultures NCAD/UCD Alliance

What is it?

The Centre for Creative Arts & Critical Cultures is a new joint initiative between UCD and NCAD to promote, initiate and coordinate cross-institutional academic activity in the domain of creative arts and critical cultures.

It seeks to support a cross-institutional, creative academic community whose work bears an affinity of interest in the arts, culture and critical studies—amplifying the impact and reach of this work across both institutions, and beyond to wider society. It will achieve these aims by developing new teaching and research initiatives, promoting and supporting the activities of its affiliated members, and facilitating collaborations between the two institutions.

Why are we proposing this?

We believe that artistic activity, cultural production and intellectual engagement are creative endeavours currently flourishing in both institutions – and despite their base in either an art college or research university, they draw from similar sources of inspiration, theory and method. Though located in different schools, faculties, colleges and disciplines, the individuals who constitute the Centre’s audience and membership work within (and across) the following zones:

archaeology; architecture; art history; arts management and policy; business and innovation; cultural policy; design; education; English & drama; film; fine arts; history; Irish and folklore; law; literature; languages; material culture; music; performance and dance; philosophy; science; sociology; theatre and drama; visual art and visual culture

Common areas of inquiry include (but are not limited to) the following areas where creative arts and critical cultures currently overlap between our institutions:

aesthetic philosophy and critique
citizenship and national identities
cultural democracy and public participation
creative life of cities
critical museology and curation
design and material culture studies
diversity and social exclusion/inequality
education and pedagogical praxes
institutional histories and ideologies
memory, materiality, and heritage
placemaking and the cultural lives of spaces
reflexive aesthetics: artistic practices informing academic methodologies, and vice versa
visualization and creative technologies

Our population includes undergraduate and postgraduate students, postdoctoral scholars, academic faculty and staff, and associated artists, critics/writers, designers, architects, and cultural producers.

What connects the working lives of our academic community is a spirit of intellectual enquiry not constrained within any single discipline: a belief that imaginative thinking and approaches can transform scientific, social scientific, and humanistic enquiry. Moreover, our work moves fluidly between the academy and wider society, engaging with the city, institutions, government and civic society. Our network of practice and interest stretches beyond the academy into national and international cultural organizations, research groups and collaborations.

The Centre is founded on the principle that work emerging from an art college and a research university is both compelling in kinship, and productive in their difference. By creating this community of scholars we seek to explore alternatives to traditional disciplinary canons; collectively propose new theoretical frameworks; and inspire in each other new forms of artistic and intellectual practice.

Why now?

This is a creative academic community whose potential, symmetry of concern, and critical mass is as yet unrecognized or organized between the two institutions of higher education. The atomized nature of UCD in particular has led to a situation where academics working dynamically in (and often on the peripheries of) their fields do not always encounter one another. On the other hand, the small scale of NCAD can inhibit fruitful collaborations with a wider academic community, and limit access to research resources. Our consultations have revealed a gap of knowledge of the activities and people in both institutions, which the Centre will redress by adopting a structured and collective model of academic exchange and engagement.

The Centre is envisioned as a point where the concerns and interests of our populations converge, forming a hub to connect academics and students from both UCD and NCAD, and our partners in the wider cultural sphere. Its activities and philosophy will be defined by the participation of its members: while informed by the strategic goals of both institutions, the Centre’s direction will ultimately be led by the ideas and ambitions of its academic community.

What will it do?

The Centre is proposed as a formally constituted UCD Research Centre, housed jointly between UCD/NCAD, led by academic co-directors from each institution, and informed by a cross-institution advisory board.

The Centre’s activity will be primarily one of coordination and promotion, and as a resource of information and assistance in the development of cross-institutional initiatives. New BA or MA programmes, for example, will remain located in their School/College of origin, but the Centre will provide a visible identity under which this activity can be grouped and promoted.

 Through its communication activity and identity, the Centre will make visible the UCD-NCAD Alliance and the activity of the Centre’s affiliated scholars, via the project website, targeted email, and social media activity. It will provide a connective structure to assist in developing shared research and teaching activities. It will be a point of contact, information and knowledge between staff at both institutions, and set up working groups to address new initiatives.

Examples of related NCAD-UCD projects currently underway include:

  • Expansion of UCD artist-in-residence programmes and provision of on-campus studio space
  • City Life: collaborative international summer school (Summer 2015)
  • Collaboratively taught MA modules in Art History & Visual Culture
  • Joint-supervised PhDs
  • Shared BA electives (UCD Art & Science)
  • BA student events and activities (artist workshops with UCD Drawsoc student society; hosting of NCAD recent graduate exhibition MultiPolar at UCD Student Centre)
  • Shared conferences and symposia: Colloquia: Sacred Space in Architecture (Autumn 2014); Interdisciplinarity in Visual and Creative Arts Public Seminars (Spring 2015); Reflexive Aesthetics conference (Summer 2015)

Future planned initiatives include:

  • Development of a BA honours single subject in art history and visual culture
  • BA international: 1 year exchange programme in Irish art & culture (partnering with North American institution)
  • MA international: jointly-awarded dual MA degree in Arts Management (partnering with North American institution)
  • New structured thematic PhDs & postgraduate research clusters

Finally, the Centre will promote cross-disciplinarity and the scholarly ambitions of the community at its core, by:

  • Hosting symposia, conferences, exhibitions and joint events
  • Supporting joint publications and creative dissemination of research
  • Encouraging and sharing information about funding and training opportunities (national, international, European), with the aim of developing joint applications
  • Developing opportunities for staff exchange, mentorship and career development (postgraduate and staff)
  • Informing the development of UCD and NCAD’s strategic research objectives
  • Promoting the vision of an interlinked creative campus which welcomes and supports cultural activity, and innovative, cross-disciplinary thinking


A €30,000 seed funding call was announced in February 2015 to fund internal projects related to the founding of the Centre and in support of the NCAD-UCD alliance.