New ABC media residency for arts practitioners and researchers

One of ABC Top 5 Arts' ambassadors Sally Smart, in her studio. Photo: Giulia McGauran.
One of ABC Top 5 Arts' ambassadors Sally Smart, in her studio. Photo: Giulia McGauran.

The University of Melbourne is partnering with the ABC and the Australia Council to present TOP 5 Arts – a media residency for graduate early-career practitioners and PhD researchers working in visual arts, performance, design, architecture and screen. Applications are open now, and close on 1 June.

Early-career PhD arts scholars and graduate arts practitioners will have the chance to develop their media and communication skills as part of a new media residency at the ABC, in partnership with the University of Melbourne and the Australia Council for the Arts.

The ABC TOP 5 scheme, which began in 2015, has previously been available to early-career researchers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medical research and, since 2018, to early career researchers in the humanities and social sciences.

The new arts residency, supported by the University of Melbourne and the Australia Council for the Arts, has been designed specifically for early-career practitioners (a graduate who has been working professionally in the arts for seven years) and scholars (within seven years of their PhD being conferred, or longer if combined with periods of significant career interruption) working in visual arts, performance, design, architecture or screen.

The five successful applicants will be offered an intensive two-week residency at the ABC’s Southbank headquarters between 17 and 28 August 2020, during which they will work alongside some of Australia’s top journalists and broadcasters, training in media communication and developing content for different ABC platforms.

Professor Barb Bolt, Director of the Victorian College of the Arts at the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, University of Melbourne, welcomed the new program.

“Now, more than ever, the transformative power of the arts can help us to understand our place and purpose, foster health and wellbeing and support sustainability and resilience,” she said.

“In Victoria alone the creative industries contribute $31 billion to the economy, and more than $100 billion to the Australian economy. That’s a huge contribution and we need to hear their voice.

“We need artists to communicate clearly, succinctly, and cleverly to the media in order for them, and us, to be heard. That's why the ABC’s TOP 5 program is critical. We're looking for people whose work will alter the way people view and engage with the world, whether that’s through the visual arts, screen, performance, design or architecture. This opportunity is tailor-made for those who want to be leaders in their field.”

ABC Head of Specialist Content Aidan Laverty said the TOP 5 program fulfilled an important role in building the communication skills of future big thinkers.

“We are proud to give a voice to Australia’s brightest emerging arts minds, alongside our residencies in science and the humanities,” he said.

“Audiences increasingly crave credible material and informed debate. At a time of widespread misinformation and disinformation, the ABC TOP 5 program offers them a resource they can rely on, by enabling some of our brightest minds to share their knowledge and expertise on a mass scale.”

As well as helping participants to be better communicators of their expertise, the residency program also aims to develop successful applicants as potential talent for future RN programs, and news and panel programs such as Q&A and The Drum.

Professor Sally Smart, Vice Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne, and one of the program’s ambassadors, said the potential benefits of the residency program were self-evident.

“The world is evolving at a rapid rate and artists have a role to investigate, be curious, collaborate across disciplines and experiment,” she said.

“Artists push boundaries, and now more than ever they have the opportunity to transmit ideas on a global scale. I’m proud to be part of this media residency program with the ABC, which is all about enabling this to happen.”

Applications for the 2020 TOP 5 Arts residencies close on Monday 1 June 2020. Visit ABC TOP 5 Arts for more information.

Listen to Professor Barb Bolt, Director of the Victorian College of the Arts, and Richard Buckham, Manager of Arts at the ABC, discussing the ABC TOP 5 media residency program on RN Breakfast with Hamish McDonald.