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Submission note: "A thesis submitted in total fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy by creative work [to the] School of Humanities, Department of Arts and Critical Enquiry, La Trobe University, Bundoora"
This doctoral research is an investigation undertaken through artistic practice, that focuses on the artistic direction of the project, Illuminated by Fire. This artistic practice utilises several art forms to create a large-scale artwork, and the doctorate demonstrates the artistic methodology whereby the artistic director initiated, developed and interrogated working processes. The artistic director implemented and delivered a multi-sited, multimedia arts project on the theme of fire with 15 artists and over 50 other collaborators. The broader premise of this practice-led enquiry is identification of a working process for making arts projects with communities and artists from across the state of Victoria. The role of the freelance artist, working outside mainstream institutional theatres and galleries on large-scale projects, is difficult to categorise; but this area of artistic endeavour has nonetheless recently become an area of employment for artists. It tends to subvert traditional hierarchies of access, as it generates new ways of working in arts practice. In this thesis these ideas are considered in relation to an analysis of community arts, although the artistic director places her methodology within a framework of culturally democratic arts practices which have been influenced by socially progressive movements. This doctorate argues that successful culturally democratic art projects require the development of strong conceptual frameworks, which achieve clarity as to the role of each artist and practitioner; through strategies that came out of the art in working life movement and involve a variety of project management skills combined with artistic vision and creative practices. The exegesis provides documentation of the arts processes realised in the large-scale public production that was the substance of the doctorate, and outlines a model for ways of working to create multiple artworks outside mainstream arts institutions.
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