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Arts research scholarships keep students on the creative path

Yuexiu Shen

Two talented Adelaide students have been granted the opportunity to pursue their arts dreams despite the ongoing disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to a generous University of South Australia scholarship program.

The Ruth Rentschler Research Grant supports arts and cultural management students to engage in advanced research relating to an area of leisure management.

In 2020, the scholarships were awarded to Yuexiu Shen and Rebecca Moret, whose careers in the arts were both affected by COVID-19; through this grant they can now continue to pursue their goals.

Philanthropist and Professor of Arts and Cultural Leadership at UniSA, Ruth Rentschler OAM, said there has never been a better time to support students, particularly international students.

“It was very important to me to provide some scholarships or study grants to give students a better start to their careers as the next generation of arts managers,” Professor Rentschler said.

“The two recipients are outstanding – one is an international student, and this is a time when we want to demonstrate that we are supporting our international students.

“They’re not able to go for any of the major ongoing support packages that have been available through the Federal and State Governments and I felt, as a philanthropist, I could do something to help them.”

Prof Rentschler established the support scheme in 2019 to help address a lack of funding in the arts management area, with no other dedicated scholarships or study grants available to students and researchers in that field.

“It seemed to me to be a real gap for students who are working in an industry with – particularly now – precarious workplaces, precarious jobs, and short-term contracts,” she says.

“Even if they work independently, their work is project based and their salaries are not high, and of course, during COVID-19, this has become even more precarious with a lot of jobs disappearing.”

Recipient and pianist Yuexiu Shen said the scholarship has given her the support and confidence to pursue her passion in the arts.

“The scholarship means a lot to me,” Shen said.

“I moved to Adelaide to study arts and cultural management, but, after I enrolled, I started to worry that my achievements in arts were just out of passion, so I rarely contributed in class.

“When I received the scholarship, I just couldn’t believe it; it means I’m not as bad as I believed, and I started to be brave and contribute in class.

“Contributing in class helped me to bond with others, and that bonding makes me feel less lonely, especially in this COVID-19 lockdown period.”

For singer Rebecca Moret, the grant allows her to study and continue building her career during a very uncertain time.

“The scholarship really could not have come at a better time, since the recent upheaval has caused a lot of plans to change,” Moret says.

“Knowing that I have the finances to support my study regardless, is a huge relief, and I am so grateful to Ruth for the work she does as a teacher and administrator.

“When I applied for the grant, I was intending to use it to help fund a study exchange to Denmark and Germany over July and August, to further my management studies while also expanding my industry contacts and working on my skills as a performer.

“Unfortunately, those plans were disrupted, so I’ve deferred the trip to next year and I am keeping the funds aside to use for that original purpose.”

Candidates for the Ruth Rentschler Scholarship can use the grant to cover travel to undertake research, collect data, collaborate with international or interstate experts, or purchases required for the research.

The grants, which are up to $4000, are awarded based on the field of research, written statement, and academic merit including academic record‚ publications or professional experience.

Source: UniSA

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