Four years ago during a visit to Greece, Professor of Art Steve Arbury had a grand idea that has turned into a yearly international visual and performing arts conference.
Arbury, who is both a professor of art history and museum studies and the director of the RU Art Museum, is celebrating his fourth year as the head of the Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER) Unit, which organizes the International Conference on Visual and Performing Arts.
Before 2010, the Visual and Performing Arts Research Unit did not exist.
"In the summer of 2009, I visited the offices of ATINER in Athens to propose an annual conference in the Visual and Performing Arts to the President of ATINER, Gregory Papanikos," Arbury said. "He was initially dubious that it would be successful, but being very open minded, he was certainly willing to let me try to organize a conference for 2010."
The first conference turned out to be successful and had more participants than any other conference produced by ATINER at that time.
With this success, Arbury has continued to organize the conference. It draws an average of 90 to100 presenters from approximately 20 countries. Participants are academics doing research in some area of the visual and performing arts, as well as anyone interested in current research in these areas.
The purpose of the conference is to provide a forum where academics and researchers from all over the world can meet and exchange ideas on their research and discuss the future developments of their discipline. They also provide insight into the current atmospheres from their various cultures.
During the conference, a presenter from Turkey shortened his presentation to update the audience about political protests happening in Istanbul and other areas of his country.
"He made a plea for us all to let the world know what was happening because the Turkish press was being suppressed," Arbury said. "He did not want his country to turn into an intolerant state. It was very poignant."
Arbury is currently editing the papers accepted for publication from this year's conference. He will soon begin preparing for next year's events. Once potential presenters submit their proposed topics, the research unit will select abstracts for acceptance. From these Arbury will create the conference sessions.
"This is the beauty of this conference: the research dictates the sessions instead of the other way around. In other words, rather than trying to adjust or somehow fit one's research into an already established session topic–which can often be problematic– the sessions for this conference are determined by the research topics," he explained.
Though all conference materials are sent through ATINER's office, Radford University is well represented. Whenever someone receives something about the annual ATINER conference in the Visual and Performing Arts, they see Radford University's name directly affiliated with Arbury's.
ATINER was established in 1995 as an independent world association of academics and researchers. It is organized into five research divisions and 23 research units. Since 1995, ATINER has organized more than 200 international conferences and other events, and has published nearly 150 books. In 2012, ATINER started a series of conference paper publications, for which Arbury is the editor of the visual and performing arts. Membership is open to all academics and researchers all over the world.
Learn more about Radford University at www.radford.edu.