PhD in the creative and performing arts

The ingenious designs of Leonardo da Vinci, the influence of mathematics on the compositions of Bach and Stockhausen, the aesthetic conceptual frameworks of Expressionism - all these are outstanding examples of research in the creative or performing arts, of synergy between art and science. In their research, artists can create remarkable links between different disciplines. The research they do is possible only because they are artists. Conversely, they develop their artistry through their research. Their work is invaluable to our information society, which is partly sustained by art.

We all know that art and music historians do research on the creative and performing arts. Research in the arts, however, has never been promoted by Flemish or Dutch art schools or universities. For centuries, students have been receiving PhDs in literature, religion or philosophy. But not in the creative or performing arts.

Artistic PhD's are still a rare phenomenon in Europe. Only a few universities have linked art and science in this way, as in the UK or Finland, where students can obtain PhD's in subjects like composition or the visual arts. In recent years, steps have been taken too, in Belgium and the Netherlands. The Orpheus Institute in Ghent has been integrating art and science in its curriculum since 1996. Leiden University's Faculty of Creative and Performing Arts now offers a PhD in the arts, and so does the University of Amsterdam's Faculty of Humanities. Flemish and Dutch institutions have thus initiated their own approach to artistic research.

Artists that receive doctorates in the creative and performing arts earn their titles through a combination of artistic achievement and theoretical reflection.They must produce artistic work of the highest level, including concerts, performances, master classes or other events. Their research findings must be reported in their thesis, which they defend in public.