On November 12 a framework agreement was signed between the institutions, universities and entities promoting the Campus of the Arts, a project that aims to strengthen higher education in the arts. The other main aim of the project is to restore the Can Ricart factory site, declared a cultural good of national interest, as its headquarters. The University of Barcelona, which leads the project, has applied for funding under the EU Next Generation funds for the refurbishment and adaptation of the building.

Representatives of the participating institutions in the agreement signature event

During the signing ceremony of this framework agreement, Joan Guàrdia, rector of the UB, stated that Campus of the Arts is "the fundamental axis for strengthening a field of knowledge such as higher arts education”, setting artistic investigation on the level of academic research in other fields of knowledge. The rector also noted that "the commitment of the UB to Can Ricart, a cultural good of national interest, and to 22@, is firm and is one of our main commitments for the future". According to Professor Guàrdia, "the activity of the Campus of the Arts will include research projects, postgraduate courses, lifelong learning and knowledge transfer activities in the city and the country".

The Catalan Minister of Research and Universities, Gemma Geis, considers the Campus of the Arts to be a "unique project in Catalonia". "It results from our conviction that the country needs a university of the arts, a thematic university, which does not exist either here or in Spain, but which does exist in most European countries", she said. The minister believes that it is necessary to generate more knowledge and develop more research in the field of the arts "because we also need the study and reflection of the contemporary human on artistic disciplines."

Jordi Martí, deputy mayor for Culture, Education, Science and Community of the City of Barcelona, said: "The Arts Campus shows the capacity of the universities and institutions of the city to work together and promote Barcelona as a benchmark in higher education and as a cultural capital. The project strengthens the field of arts and design at a university level and creates a broad alliance to promote it.” Martí insisted on the strategic role of Can Ricart and the cultural and creative legacy of its context.

During the signing ceremony, the coordinator of the initiative for the UB, Carles Martí, reviewed the history of the Campus de les Arts and its priority concerns. Emerging after an initial report of the Catalan Arts Council (CoNCA) in 2018, Campus de les Arts has focused since then on the organisation of the congress “INDISCIPLINES”, in 2019, as well as other activities, commissions and research publications. Besides, the scientific and pedagogic character of its future activity has been jointly defined, along with designing Can Ricart’s architectural project and spatial uses.

The Campus of the Arts plans to have 6,800 m2 available on the Can Ricart site. In 2015, the City Barcelona Council, which owns the site, granted the UB the use of the main industrial building and some outbuildings. This agreement will enable the development of a project of fundamental use both from an educational perspective and for the future of this emblematic space.

From left to right: Joan Guàrdia, Rector UB; Gemma Geis, Government of Catalonia; Jordi Martí, Barcelona City Council

In 2021 Campus de les Arts has advanced its professional activity through study commissions. These commissions have focused their efforts on training for professors in the arts and on online learning, amongst other subjects.

The commission dedicated to training faculty in artistic education has studied the challenges and difficulties in pedagogical education for those teaching degree programmes. As established standards and regulations are lacking when it comes to preparing post-secondary faculty dedicated to the arts and culture—a fact which contrasts with requirements for teachers in secondary education—the aim has been to lay out theoretical concerns and establish certain areas of response.

The Faculty Training Commission was coordinated by Professor Asun Llena of the Institut de Desenvolupament Professional [Institute for Professional Development] (IDP-ICE) of the University of Barcelona. The working group, with broad participation of Campus de les Arts participating institutions, focused on perceived needs of educational institutions, with the idea of establishing a framework of reference to improve training and more formally prepare professors in artistic education. The final document of the commission further points to the importance of preparing faculty in the arts for artistic research. One focus area is the proposal to extend artistic and creative training to other disciplines, such as engineering, architecture and social work, while emphasising the growing potential of investigation done jointly by artistic and scientific researchers.

The final document of the commission will be presented in the fall of 2021. Training for teachers in the arts is one of the main focus areas for the Campus de les Arts project, as seen in the proposal to create a dedicated training centre for artistic faculty, the future EFPA.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a major challenge for education, faced with classroom closures and the shift from in-person classes to digital platforms. “We have sought to explore the complexity of online education, without just centring on the demands caused by the pandemic”, explains Professor Jeffrey Swartz of Campus de les Arts, who coordinated the group. “Reflection on online communities, or the psychological impact of losing face-to-face dynamics, have been just as important as technological considerations.”

This commission dealt with a broad range of subjects related to distance learning. After sharing experiences and solutions of a more urgent nature, the commission moved on to specific related topics. Here various centres insisted on their statutory obligation to provide in-person education, with distance options only activated in exceptional circumstances. In contrast, the experience of the UOC was particularly valuable in understanding the postulates of a university dedicated to online studies as a consolidated practice. In a further session, the commission reflected on technical and technological innovations related to online learning, with specific contributions from ESMUC, ESDAP Catalunya and ESDi. For the next session, Professor Anna Pujadas of EINA presented a reflection on the repercussions of distance learning for pedagogical practice, while this same session featured a guest speaker, researcher Efraín Foglia, who addressed the subject of the meanings and ethics of virtual communities, with the presentation “Political and Aesthetic Dynamics of Digital Communities.”

The final session focused on the subject of the personal wellbeing of students, professors and staff, as well as the psychological and personal repercussions of online learning during the pandemic. The emerging subject of community care, where universities might be reformulated in the terms of caring communities, was also considered. This session featured the experiences and solutions of various participating centres, including LCI Barcelona, which draws on the experience of the international network it pertains to.

A summary of the activity of this commission will be available online in Fall 2021 in the section Documents. The webpage of Campus de les Arts allows all reports and studies related to the work of commissions and study groups to be freely downloaded.

ESMUC presentation to the commission on online education, 2021

Campus de les Arts presents the online publication of the proceedings of the conference “Indisciplines”, which was held in Barcelona from 28-30 November 2019. The publication, entitled INDISCIPLINES: Proceedings of the Conference on Research in Arts Practice, has been coordinated by Jeffrey Swartz and edited by the University of Barcelona – Campus de les Arts.

During the three days of the conference, scholars and creators from some ten countries presented thirty conferences in ten sessions. More than 150 people, among academics, creators and academic and cultural managers attended the sessions, held in the Historical Building of the UB and the Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya (ESMUC).

Some of the sessions had a performative, musical or exhibition-like format, in line with the proposal of the conference to approach the concept and sense of research based on creative practices. The publication includes an institutional presentation and a theoretical introduction in the three languages.

In his Introduction, the president of the scientific committee and lecturer at ESMUC, Ruben López-Cano, reviews the recent period of consolidation of studies and support structures for artistic research. According to López-Cano, “artistic research does not limit its aims to the study of creative processes. Under its umbrella, novel discussions on certain undertreated subjects have taken place on techniques, aesthetics and poetics, as well as the ethical, social and political dimensions of art”.

Exposició de peces Baschet, Universitat de Barcelona, 2017.