Home » The Value of Art Universities

The Value of Art Universities

Vancouver’s Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design is to become a university.

Going head-to-head with Toronto’s OCAD – also an art and design university – and VoCA wonders whether this is a good thing.


Toronto artist – and OCAD dropout – Thrush Holmes’ studio. Image: lowegallery.com

At the ECIAD, president Ron Burnett says ““We are extremely proud to see that our innovative institution will become a university. This new status means we can increase opportunities for students to participate in professional degree programs leading to bachelor’s and master’s degrees in visual art, design and media studies.”

Read the Vancouver Sun article HERE.


The Ontario College of Art and Design, Toronto. Image: torontoist.com

What are the benefits of art universities? Masters degrees in curatorial studies, bachelors of fine arts and design…

Of course, many other universities are known for their art programs. But VoCA wonders about the value of having graduates in fine art leaving schools with the expectation of being able to make a viable career as a contemporary artist.

Doesn’t this go against the concept of art as an inherent talent?

Is it right to expect that ‘anyone’ can be an artist or have we moved beyond elitist notions of who and what constitutes art. Of course the idea of what is art is constantly broadening, but not just anyone should, or can be an artist. Talent and understanding should override expectations of glamour and ambition.


ECIAD: design department building. Image: ATypI

Are these programs contributing to the increase in (bad) contemporary art? Or does it even matter? Will bad art be filtered from the system naturally?

(Not if the recent sculpture exhibition Unmonumental at New York’s New Museum is anything to go by.)

New York Magazine critic Jerry Saltz famously claimed in ArtNews that “Now there’s a whole lot more art being made, and a lot more bad art being made. 90 percent of shows all agree are bad…”

Coming up on VoCA:

The best of CONTACT Photography Festival, Toronto
May 1 – May 31, 2008

MOODYVILLE, a group photography exhibition at Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver
May 3 – June 15, 2008

…and more!

3 Responses to “The Value of Art Universities”

  1. Marissa says:

    I think that jobs are demanding “better” accreditation. Few (if any) students in any graduating year are going to make a living selling their work — they might as well be equipped, after 4 years and $35,000, to get a job somewhere more pragmatic.

    The transition of turning a college into a university changes little aside from the diploma becoming a degree. I’m pretty sure that the same amount of crappy art will be produced.

  2. Bill Blakely says:

    Emily Carr has always been a university and has been giving degrees for many years, including masters degrees. Status means that we will be recognized for what we are and for all the famous and productive artists that we have produced!

  3. Krusto says:

    does anybody leave university with the expectation that they will have a viable career in whatever they were studying? do they? don’t they?? i did not.

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