University and ABC giving voice to Australia’s brightest arts minds

Top 5 ambassador Sally Smart
The world is evolving at a rapid rate and artists have a role to investigate, says Sally Smart, one of the ABC Top 5 Arts' ambassadors. IMAGE: Giulia McGauran.

Early-career arts researchers and practitioners will have the chance to develop their 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, humanities and social sciences.

For the first time, early-career graduate PhD researchers and graduate practitioners across the visual arts, performance, design, architecture and screen are invited to apply for the ABC TOP 5 Arts media residency designed specifically for them.

University of Melbourne Professor Barb Bolt, Director of the Victorian College of the Arts at the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, welcomed the new program, saying: “In Victoria alone, the creative industries contribute $31 billion to the economy, and more than $100 billion to the Australian economy.

“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.”

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

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 Radio National programs, and news and panel programs such as Q&A and The Drum.

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow Professor Sally Smart, who is 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,” Professor Smart said. “Artists push boundaries and now more than ever they have the opportunity to transmit ideas on a global scale.”

Professor Donald Bates, Director of the Melbourne School of Design at the University’s Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, said partnering with the residency programme will foster and communicate important design research.

“Architects and designers imagine and create our future worlds – the space, environments and buildings – where our daily lives play out. Working across artistic and technical disciplines, the exploration and development of expertise across issues of housing, cities, the urban realm and sustainability is crucial for a thriving society,” Professor Bates said.

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.

“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,” Mr Laverty said.

Applications open Friday 1 May and close Monday 1 June 2020. More information here.