Your story – building an authentic and sustainable career in the arts

Deakin University is known for its innovation and adaptability. A powerful combination for creatives.

ArtsHub caught up with international artist and Senior Lecturer in Film TV and Performing Arts, Olivia Millard to learn about the new Bachelor of Creative Arts at Deakin and how it will change the career landscape for future art graduates.

A committed educator: Olivia Millard

The ultimate mentor, in any aspect of life, is someone who combines their formal qualifications with powerful and relevant lived experiences.

This is exactly what Arts students get in Dr Olivia Millard, Senior Lecturer at Deakin.

With a significant career as a professional dancer, Millard choreographed work and had projects commissioned for various institutions in both Australia and overseas.

She then spent six years teaching at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) before joining Deakin in 2008 – a move Millard reflects upon fondly. 

‘Moving from a sole focus in the arts to the world of academia is a common pathway for creatives. It’s a career addition and transition that’s incredibly rewarding,’ she says.

And now, as a key contributor to the new Bachelor of Creative Arts degree, her blend of creative vision and practicality is helping set this course up for great success.

A new way to explore the arts

In this exciting new undergraduate model, Deakin offers students an opportunity to combine their majors and minors in unique ways so students don’t compromise on what they love – and can forge their own creative path.

The course allows creatives to mix and match their major and minor units spanning disciplines from drama, dance and photography to visual arts, writing and publishing.

‘This structure allows our undergrads to design a bespoke course that ties into their strengths, interests and goals, which also increases a student’s chances of securing a versatile and sustainable career in the arts when they graduate,’ Millard tells ArtsHub.

Learning through Deakin lecturers’ lived experiences

Millard’s career story spans far and wide – which mirrors the experiences of her peers in the Creative Arts course.

‘My colleagues at Deakin all have real-world experience and continue to work outside the university walls. So the richness and depth of our insights spans far beyond the course outlines,’ she says.

Relishing in their relationships

Another huge advantage to Deakin’s industry-focused teaching team is their thriving networks.

‘We see it as our responsibility to invite our students to collaborate with these industry professionals,’ says Millard.

With the faculty nourishing long-standing partnerships with organisations such as La Mama, Theatre Works, Geelong Arts Centre, Arts Centre Melbourne among others, many Deakin students are offered internships. And, upon graduating, they can build on these real-world connections to secure employment.

Millard says, ‘The best way for students to form professional relationships with growth potential is by working directly with the industry leaders – letting them prove their potential.’

For students, it’s a career-affirming foot-in-the-door that creates opportunities for that future door to swing wide open.

State-of-the-art spaces to bring their work to life

The creatives who choose this journey will be spoiled with Deakin’s state-of-the art spaces.

‘I believe we have some of the most beautiful dance studios and performance spaces in Melbourne,’ says Millard.

With the area originally standing as a conventional gym, a lot of planning and design went into the studio conversion.

With windows that invite natural light, it’s ideal for classes and workshops. But draw those blinds – and it becomes the perfect black space, primed for accent lighting.

‘We have fantastic facilities,’ Millard points out, ‘including lighting and projectors, still and video cameras, and a wardrobe and prop department.

‘And with the support of the technical staff, students really get the opportunity to bring their work to life in a very professional setting.’

Alongside the drama and dance zones, Deakin also boasts two visual art studios and studios used for television and film. It even offers dark rooms to support the analogue photography students – a feature unique to Deakin.

‘So, no matter their specific art form, every student has access to the technology they need to develop their skills,’ Millard notes.

The goal for every Deakin graduate

When asked Millard’s hopes for every graduate, she says, ‘The answer is easy. Every academic involved in this creation wants two things for our students: to offer them an inspiring and supportive pathway to develop their specific skills, and to push them beyond their current perception of their own art.

‘We hope each graduate walks away with a strong ability to apply creative thinking – and to be ready to carve out their own path in the creative arts.’

The green light and support to shoot for the stars. What more could a creative want?

Envisaging your bespoke pathway in the arts? Make it a reality. Explore Deakin University’s new Bachelor of Creative Arts today.

Apply through VTAC Code: 1400511391 – Burwood (Melbourne), Commonwealth Supported Place (HECS) or directly through Deakin.

Thuy On is Reviews Editor of ArtsHub and an arts journalist, critic and poet who’s written for a range of publications including The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, Sydney Review of Books, The Australian, The Age/SMH and Australian Book Review. She was the books editor of The Big issue for 8 years. Her first book, a collection of poetry called Turbulence, came out in 2020 and was published by University of Western Australia Press (UWAP). Her next collection, Decadence, was published in July 2022, also by UWAP. Twitter: @thuy_on