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Artistic Development

Artistic research and artistic development work are research and development work carried out within the fine, performing or creative arts.

Artistic Research and Development Work is a translation of the Swedish term Konstnärligt utvecklingsarbete which was coined during the higher education reform of 1977. The schools of the fine and performing arts were then integrated into the universities around Sweden, and went from being strictly teaching institutions to institutions where research was to be conducted – but what kind of research was the question. Seeing artistic processes as being part of the building of academic knowledge was not a popular concept; in contrast to "true academic research", artistic projects were seen as neither general nor verified.

The solution was to equate artistic research work with a particular kind of research - development work. In international contexts, it is often said that research has three main areas – basic research, applied research and development work. To compare artistic practice with the development work associated with the arrival of new products, processes or systems was as far as things could go over 30 years ago.

Artistic research and development work became characterised by broad, boundary-spanning subject choices and methodology freedom. Relatively short projects were organised and documented in forms which were specific for each artistic area; for example in music, concerts, album production, and festivals or conferences.

A growing need for reflection, long-sightedness and the unified building of knowledge within artistic research and development work saw artistic research begin to come to the fore at the end of the 1990s, first as ideas, then as concepts and finally also as an organisation.  The development of academic methods advanced to the point that the strongly subjective perspective of artistic work was no longer seen as an unsurmountable barrier to including the arts on the universities' lists of recognised forms of knowledge.

For these reasons, both Artistic Research and Artistic Development Work exist at a number of universities today in Sweden. The terms are sometimes used together; as in the Research Proposition of March 2009. The terms can also be used synonymously, but it is still most common that they are used to describe two different, yet related areas, which have common factors, and are most often found in varying organisations and roles.

Artistic research is characterised by investigation, reflection and the unified building of knowledge, like all other forms of research. It also has the same form of organisation, with a faculty board which is responsible for research programmes and research and awarding doctorate degrees.

Artistic development involves, as it always has, brief, often boundary-spanning, development projects with freedom of choice concerning form and documentation method. In this form, artistic development is available to the teaching staff of institutes of higher education, and the organisational responsibility is with the Artistic Research and Development Board. A development work project can also be part of a research programme or research project. The Artistic Research and Development Board distribute funds for artistic research and development once annually. The deadline for applying for funds is usually at the end of November/beginning of December each year. Payments to cover costs incurred by participating at conferences or partaking on study trips are made when appropriate.

Hans Hellsten

Hans Hellsten
Teachers (Malmö Academy of Music)
+46 (0)40-32 54 88
hans [dot] hellsten [at] mhm [dot] lu [dot] se