Antwerp Research Institute for the Arts - ARIA

St Lucas Antwerp, the Royal Conservatoire Antwerp, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp and the University of Antwerp

ARIA organises and supervises research and PhD's in, with and for the arts[i]. The institute safeguards the special character of research in the arts and fosters collaboration and knowledge exchange with other artistic and scientific disciplines. It achieves this through unique partnerships among the Antwerp Schools of Arts and the University of Antwerp, in which the partners’ autonomy and integrity come first.

Research in the arts that is being conducted in the context of ARIA tends to fall into one of three major types:

  1. artistic research with a powerful critical and contemporary edge, in which art is seen as essential to the reinvention of society and as an indispensable form of imagining pathways to inclusiveness, sustainability, democracy.
  2. artistic research that mainly reflects upon the conditions and modalities of artistic practice itself, seeking to strengthen and renew specific artistic disciplines and open up fields of transdisciplinary discovery.
  3. artistic research that focuses on revitalising various kinds of cultural heritage, pursuing the rich traditions of artistic practice, tackling problems of expression and canonisation, and proposing forms of renewal through imitation and continuity through variation.

ARIA creates local, national and international collaborations with artists, professionals, research institutes and artistic organisations. In order to foster quality in arts research, the institute initiates and supports research seminars, symposiums, publications and other artistic-scientific activities. It also ensures broader dissemination of its research findings in society through the media and through private and public institutions. At policy level, ARIA represents the unique scientific and societal position of arts research in platforms such as Research Foundation – Flanders, the European Research Council and the Flemish government.

ARIA is located in the heart of an important European city of art. Researchers can draw inspiration from Antwerp – a city with extensive cultural infrastructure and impressive art-historical heritage, as well as a distinctly international commercial character and multicultural population. In this rich urban context, ARIA encourages research that

  1. is founded on artistic practice. Artistic practice is both the means and the end of research in the arts. Research serves to develop reflective practice further and to articulate it more precisely. ARIA and the Schools of Arts offer a professional, international peer group that assures quality in every research programme.

  2. is rooted in the unique character of the arts. ARIA recognises both the singular nature of art itself and the distinctive career paths of artists. Thus, research in the arts always explores art-specific questions and issues to which artists seek to provide answers, potentially in collaboration with other artists and scientists. In this, ARIA’s approach relies on research methods, reporting techniques and dissemination strategies that are specific to the arts.

  3. seeks to achieve both disciplinary depth and interdisciplinary breadth. ARIA stimulates research and PhDs in the arts that have the potential to develop and deepen practice in a given artistic discipline. In addition, exchange and/or collaboration with other artistic and scientific disciplines is encouraged. Given the unique context of the Schools of Arts, which are home to various artistic disciplines, and the university with its numerous scientific branches, interesting and challenging exchanges are inevitable. ARIA wishes to facilitate an open research climate in which art and science – and the arts themselves – can challenge one another.

  4. puts research centre stage in education. ARIA sees research as the foundation of and driving force behind education. The topics chosen for research and PhDs in the arts should determine which topics are included in the curriculum (and not vice versa). Thus, we believe that research nourishes education.

  5. makes a meaningful contribution to professional art practice. As ARIA is founded on artistic practice, close ties with the professional art world are essential. Research in the arts may further academic research, but the focus must remain on producing meaningful contributions to the professional context. Such contributions might include introducing new artistic practices, for example, or addressing broader cultural or societal issues.

  6. takes a critical stance towards society. ARIA aims to strengthen the position of the arts and artistic practice in society through research. It is only by making their own choices that artists (and scientists) can enter into dialogue with and contribute to society on an equal footing.

[i]By ‘arts’, we mean all professional creative disciplines, including spoken word, design, dance, performance, music, theater, visual arts, literature and new media.