Essential not Optional: Celebrating the Creative Arts in Higher Education

7 March, 2024 | by [email protected]

We are delighted to announce and invite you to this year’s conference which will bring together DanceHE, DramaHE, MusicHE, and NAFAE for a series of interdisciplinary panels, debates, and keynotes (as well as discipline specific breakout sessions and AGMs). However, this conference is not merely a convergence of disciplines; it’s a celebration of the essential role played by Drama, Music, Dance, and Art in higher education.

In this year’s conference we will explore the synergies that arise and collective influence we wield when these four disciplines come together. This unique gathering provides a platform to explore our collaborative potential, shared ethos, and the impact Drama, Music, Dance, and Art has on the academic landscape of our institutions and the sector as a whole. Bringing together members from these four subject associations offers a rare opportunity to explore how these disciplines can work together to enhance and reinforce the position and influence of the creative arts. We hope that this collaborative conference will help us to foster a more resilient, cohesive, and interconnected network, not only between disciplines but with partners in compulsory education, community arts, industry and policy. By sharing insights, methodologies, and best practices from across our memberships, we can cross-pollinate ideas to shape the practices, policies, and cultures of learning that define our collective educational environments in the present and the future.

Call for Proposals: We invite proposals for panels, papers, provocations and workshops that align with the broad conference theme, and are particularly interested in proposals that consider the collaborative potential and intersections between creative arts disciplines. Proposals can be discipline-specific (Drama, Dance, Music, Art) or interdisciplinary.

Suggested Panels and Topics:

In the year 2050… Creative Arts degrees will be?
A provocative exploration and discussion of what the creative arts degrees will look like in the year 2050, and the journey they’ll need to take (or avoid) to get there?

Exploring the Intersection of Drama, Music, Dance, and Art.
Investigating the potential for innovative collaborative projects and interdisciplinary initiatives that bridge the gaps between the creative arts.

Shared Pedagogies: Enhancing Educational Practices Across Disciplines.
Uncovering common pedagogical approaches and strategies that can be shared and adapted across Drama, Music, Dance, and Art. What methodologies emerge when these four creative disciplines collaborate and push the boundaries of traditional education? How do pedagogical practices map onto the different institutional structures, spaces and contexts in which we work?

Cultural Impact: Amplifying Influence Through Collective Action.
Examining how Drama, Music, Dance, and Art can contribute to a broader cultural impact, influencing societal perceptions and fostering a deeper appreciation for the arts.

Enhancing diversity and fostering inclusion within HE creative arts disciplines:
An exploration of the success stories, strategies employed, and challenges encountered when cultivating a more inclusive and diverse landscape. Asking how the creative arts can bring about institutional change in this area?

Creative Practice and AI: Exploring the integration of creative practices with Artificial Intelligence, examining the intersection of technology and the arts. Participants are encouraged to delve into case studies, emerging trends, and ethical considerations in utilizing AI as a tool for creative expression, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the realm of artistic innovation.

Arts and Health: Investigating the relationship between the creative arts and health, exploring the impact of artistic expression on well-being in a context in which both the arts and healthcare sectors are under-resourced. We particularly welcome discussions on how arts and wellbeing are embedded into pedagogical practices and the ways in which the widely acknowledged benefits of the arts on health and wellbeing relate to the actually existing conditions of working in the arts and the arts in higher education. We also welcome panels that share how the arts contribute to healing, mental health, and community well-being, examining successful initiatives and potential future collaborations between the creative arts and healthcare professionals.

Casualisation, Collaboration, and the Meaning of ‘Colleagues’. Investigating the dynamics and impact of workforce relationships and casualisation.

Advocacy at Home: Effective Change and Collaboration within and beyond our Institutions. Strategies for cross disciplinary advocacy within universities to bring about effective change and collaboration. Also, exploring collaborative ventures that strengthen the creative arts across different sectors (HEIs, Industry, Cultural Partners, and Cross-Council Funding Streams).

Submission Guidelines:

Abstract Submission Deadline: Friday April 5th
Notification of Acceptance: Friday May 1st
Please submit your abstract (250-300 words) for a paper, panel, provocation, or workshop along with a brief bio to [email protected]

Keynote Speakers: t.b.c

Contact Information:
For inquiries please contact Rob Dean [[email protected] – DramaHE]; Natalie Garrett Brown [[email protected] – DanceHE]; Roddy Hawkins [[email protected] – MusicHE]; Andrew Bracey [[email protected] – NAFAE]

We warmly anticipate your involvement in this dynamic exploration of the essential role of creative arts in universities.

Many thanks for your time.

Conference details


Essential not Optional: Celebrating the Creative Arts in Higher Education


University of Lincoln
Brayford Pool
United Kingdom


Wednesday 26th June 2024

Conference format

In person

Title of panel

DanceHE, DramaHE, MusicHE, and NAFAE - Joint Annual Conference


Friday 5th April 2024

Conference abstract

DanceHE, DramaHE, MusicHE, and NAFAE - Joint Annual Conference


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