Keynote Speakers

Maria Hansen

Executive Director of ELIA

Maria Hansen worked in the performing arts for almost 30 years. She was Fundraiser and later Executive Director of Opera Lyra Ottawa until 1995 when she moved to the Netherlands. For 11 years, Maria managed the Netherlands Bach Society, a baroque ensemble she toured internationally. In 2007, she became Managing Director of the Municipal Theater and Concert Hall Philharmonie of Haarlem. After 10 years in Haarlem, she decided to take on a new challenge and made the move to ELIA, the globally connected network of Higher Arts Education based in Amsterdam.

Connections for Life

The Paradox Conference and Student Exhibition will be opened with a reflection by ELIA’s Executive Director Maria Hansen on the value of connectivity in the international field of Higher Arts Education. Connecting institutions who provide excellent learning environments for emerging artists is part of ELIA’s raison d’être and there are many stories to share about the results that this has rendered in the past 29 years. Hansen’s contribution will include an update on ELIA’s most recent collaborative activities in the area of artistic research, best practice examples on internationalisation of student learning and, finally, some hands-on career advice for the emerging artists whose work will be exhibited during the conference.

Paula Crabtree

Vice Chancellor at Stockholm University of the Arts

Prior to this Paula Crabtree was Rector at Bergen Academy of Art and Design (KHiB) in Norway and before that Dean at the Dept. of Fine Art also at KhiB. She is a Founding member of the Executive Group of EQ-Arts and has worked extensively across Europe in quality assurance and quality enhancement. Paula participated in the process of developing the European Tuning Documents (Fine Art).

Anthony Dean

Emeritus Professor of Performing Arts at the University of Winchester

He is a Founding member of the Executive Group of EQ-Arts. Between 2002 and 2017 he was Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University, prior to this, he was Head of Department at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. At Central, he played the leading role in establishing the BA Theatre Arts degree as well as UK’s first formal BA Degree programmes in Puppetry and in Circus (in collaboration with Circus Space). More recently, he played a key role in validating the first degree in the UK in Street Arts (University of Winchester).

Higher Arts Education: The Good, the not so Good and External Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance and quality enhancement have become an integral part of European Higher Arts Education. EQ-Arts (Enhancing Quality in The Arts) is the only international Quality Assurance Agency that specializes in art and design across this sector. 

In this session, two members of the EQ-Arts Executive Group will present an overview of what EQ-Arts – through its work across the sector to date – has found to be the areas of particular strength, as well as areas for improvement, across the arts sector in relation to formal external Quality Assurance processes. They will draw on the range of Quality Assurance processes they have both jointly and individually been involved with, highlighting some of the areas where the arts sector can be considered to be a leader in the field of higher education and noting other areas where they believe it can look to strengthen! 

The presentation will also provide a summary of the EQ-Arts Accreditation process, the other services it provides and its other current activities – including the Creator Doctus project (co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union) aimed at enabling Higher Arts Education Institutions in all countries signed up to the Bologna Declaration to be able to independently enter into the 3rd Cycle level with an award recognised at the same level of, and equivalent to, PhD.

Helēna Demakova

Art Historian and Curator, Assistant Professor at the Art Academy of Latvia

Helēna Demakova was the curator of the Latvian participation at the Venice biennale on two occasions (1999 and 2001).
She served as Minister of Culture of the Republic of Latvia from 2004 to 2009. She has received the highest award in culture from the French government – Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters (2008) and was awarded Latvia’s Order of the Three Stars in 2014.

The Young Person is the Measure of All the Futures

Paraphrasing the well known maxim of pre-Socratic thinker Protagoras that “man is the measure of all things”, it is useful to add that the future is not a thing. Nobody has seen it, nobody has touched it. Escaping exaggerated anthropocentrism, Latvian thinker and professor at the Latvian Academy of Art Arnis Rītups once asked his students to prepare a statement, without using any quotations, on what is notdependent on a human being. Many of those around us are definitely dependent on people, often on art more than other phenomena. Even if the world-famous artist of Latvian descent Vija Celmins in her later career depicts independent entities such as the sky or the surface of the sea, it is her human hand that has previously taken a photograph and later used graphite.

When the distinguished curator Okwui Enwezor gave his show at the 2015 Venice biennale the title of “All the World’s Futures”, there was no metaphysical touch in his approach. That exhibition was judged by critics as a laboratory of social attitudes. Among many generalizations which followed this show, the emerging artists were not the focus of discussion. The futures where likely prepared by concepts. 

I believe that at least art’s future is created by living beings and young people will have more opportunities to participate in this process. This paper will concentrate on very, very young Latvian artists who cannot really be considered to form a generation. Their creativity is defined not only by the local context and the local art education but also and mainly by the broader field. What are their artistic positions, what is their link – if there is one – with tradition, what kind of individual attitudes do they develop, this is the theme of my contribution to the conference.