Jobwatch: arts repertoire expands

November 28, 2003

Loughborough's School of Art and Design wants to signal it is "on the way up", while Exeter's School of Performing Arts hopes new staff will raise its research assessment exercise rating. Pat Leon reports

Few pre-1992 universities house art schools, which makes Loughborough University School of Art and Design eager to capitalise on its scarcity value in seeking seven new lecturers.

The school was the Midland town's college of art and design before its 1998 merger with the university. Colin Rhodes, school director, says: "Occupying a niche position is always a good selling point. The great thing in becoming part of Loughborough was that the university was research-led. We have been able to position ourselves as a school that focuses on research."

The university's expertise in technology and engineering has also given the school access to high-tech equipment and knowledge. "It means we can engage in projects that allow us to come out of the usual art and design box," Rhodes says.

With the new appointments, the school wants to maintain its strong crafts tradition while integrating new media. The posts are in fine art, textile design, illustration, history of art and design and three-dimensional design. Although two posts are replacements, it was decided to advertise all seven together to signal "we are on the way up", Rhodes says.

"We don't have a blinkered view of the precise people we want for the jobs.

In textile design, for example, we want someone who can teach undergraduates from a range of disciplines but who also has their own research agenda."

Meanwhile, the small drama department at Exeter University's School of Performing Arts is also looking upward: to raise its four-star research assessment exercise rating to a five. Nela Kapelan, school administrator, says: "The university has realised that to achieve that potential you have to invest."

Some £3.7 million is going towards new buildings housing studios, seminar and rehearsal rooms, offices and social spaces. The department expects to double its intake to 120 undergraduates a year by 2006-07 and is looking for a professor of theatre history and three lecturers.

Graham Ley, acting head of school, says that underpinning the expansion is the continuing popularity of drama among students. The department prefers candidates who offer a mix of practical skills and scholarship.

"The department really aims to pay attention to performance across a broad span of history and cultures. These posts will help us to achieve that ambition," he adds.

A mix of practical theatrical experience and academic scholarship is also required by candidates for the post of director of Leeds University's Workshop Theatre and for the post of chair of drama and theatre, following the early retirement of Philip Roberts.

Vivien Jones, head of the School of English, says that although drama is a small specialism in a large school, Leeds aims to maintain a full range of activity.

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