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Arts degree opens doors for Whitireia students

Unique arts degree opens doors for Whitireia students

An exciting Bachelor of Applied Arts is being offered for the first time at Whitireia in 2006. This unique degree will set students on course for a successful career in their chosen art and performance fields.


Performing Arts students get the opportunity to tour around New Zealand and internationally. This year they performed in Taiwan, with plans for a trip to America in 2006. Several photos available, e.g. Nirvana Phillips and Crystal Sciascia performing in graduate students’ show ‘Ignite’ at Pataka.

The degree is a mix of four majors - performing arts, visual arts, music or creative writing. Students will collaborate across majors and work together on exciting multi-media projects.

‘The degree offers the opportunity to experiment with other arts disciplines. A dancer can study design. A designer can learn about music production. A musician can write poetry and a poet can learn to dance,’ says Anne Philbin, Visual Arts Programme Manager.

Well-known artist and jewellery tutor Peter Deckers is pleased the degree has been introduced. He says it provides students with the opportunity to learn their chosen art form in more depth, developing a solid grounding in knowledge and research.

‘This degree is different from others being offered around the country. The emphasis is on ‘applied arts’ – a practical degree with just the right balance between the hands-on and theory. The enterprise component will teach students how to apply their skills in the real world.’

As well as developing industry skills and talent, a new core component will build business skills and knowledge. Students will learn how to promote their work, generate an income and turn their ideas into enterprise.

‘Learning about creative enterprise will give us survival skills for launching ourselves into the world after graduating from Whitireia’, says Nirvana Phillips, performing arts student. ‘The quality teaching at Whitireia and the unique course content will open up opportunities for me in the future’.

Nirvana believes a higher qualification will gain better recognition when she is auditioning for roles in shows. ‘I have passion and drive for performance and I want to take it as far as I can’.

‘I am excited about the creative entrepreneurship component,’ says visual arts student Lisa Silestean. ‘I come from a business background and I know this is what it’s all about. I have never embarked on a degree - it is one of my life goals. Having successfully completed this certificate year I can see that the possibilities are endless now that I’ve found what I really like doing’.

Benefits for students include the opportunity to build credits and skills at certificate or diploma level. The supportive atmosphere encourages students and enables them to staircase into the degree.

‘One year has not been enough – the degree will give me more time to fully develop my skills and tastes and learn techniques,’ says jewellery student Catherine Yeats. The individual tuition is one of the reasons she has decided to enrol in the degree. She says the tutor, Peter Deckers, ‘really believes in us and is so student-focused - he is an inspiring tutor and artist’.

Nicole Clark has thoroughly enjoyed her first year studying visual arts. She is also entering the new degree majoring in jewellery design – a passion she has developed from trying something new this year.

‘I chose Whitireia when I heard so many success stories about people who have studied here - students from Whitireia really go places’. She jumped at the chance to enter the Bachelor of Applied Arts. ‘While I am studying for this degree I will get valuable feedback and I will graduate with a recognised qualification’.

The degree also has ex-students excited. Many are intending to come back to Whitireia and turn their certificates and diplomas into degrees.

The national accreditation panel which approved the degree commented on the innovative nature of the programme, and its staircasing and vocational opportunities. Also praised was the strong focus on contextual studies and the capacity to enhance the students’ knowledge base.

‘The Bachelor of Applied Arts celebrates a philosophy about learning in the arts, that Whitireia has always had,’ explains Dean of Arts Drew James. ‘We believe in 'hands on' work in the studios underpinned by rigorous academic investigation. When these two are combined with fun and lots of teamwork, students at Whitireia achieve great things. Some never dreamed they would do a degree and now this is a possibility at Whitireia – with the chance to progress from one course into another. The students’ eyes have been opened to what is possible – and the future is looking bright.’

Students can enrol now for 2006 certificate, diploma courses and the Bachelor of Applied Arts. Course and student loan information on: 0800 944847 http://www.arts@whitireia.ac.nz

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