The Arts Knowledge Community - its annual conference, family of journals, book series and online community, began in Australia in the early 2000s with three community-based events, a conference on Indigenous Visual Arts in Adelaide, then two conferences associated with the Adelaide and Melbourne Festival of the Arts. The Adelaide Festival was curated in 2002 by US Opera Director Peter Sellars and the Melbourne Festival by Australian singer and actor Robyn Archer. These two directors provided the initial inspiration for the idea of talking about the arts at sites of arts practice, in this case arts festivals.
Since then, the now annual Arts Conference has evolved to create an intellectual platform for the arts and arts practices, and to create an interdisciplinary conversation on the role of the arts in society. It is intended as a place for critical engagement, examination and experimentation of ideas that connect the arts to their contexts in the world – on stage, in studios and theaters, in classrooms, in museums and galleries, on the streets and in communities.
Since 2006, the Arts Conference has been held annually in different international locations, and often in conjunction with global and local arts events. The Conference was held in conjunction with the Edinburgh Festivals, Edinburgh, Scotland in 2006, and in 2007, in collaboration with the Documenta12, Kassel, Germany. The 2007 International Symposium on the Arts was held during the Armory Show in New York and in co-sponsorship with the Center for Art and Public Policy, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. In 2008, the Conference was held at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK, with a special theme of Art and Communication. In 2009 the Conference was held in Venice, Italy in conjunction with the Venice Biennale. In 2010 the Conference was held at University of Sydney, Sydney College of the Arts, Australia and in 2011 the Conference was held at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Berlin, Germany. In 2012, the Conference was held at the Art and Design Academy, John Moores University, Liverpool, UK, in conjunction with the Cultural Olympiad and Liverpool’s role for this year as European Capital of Culture. In 2013, the conference was held in Budapest, Hungary, where plenary speakers addressed "New Media, Technology, and the Arts."
Over the past decade, the Arts Conference has provided a venue and a framework for the arts and art practices that are situated within the context of international art expositions, festivals and biennials engaged with the international production of art and its global distribution networks. The Conference aims to discover what values, instincts and common ground may exist within the arts and their practices and sites of reception around the world.
The conference is complemented by a family of four thematic journals as well as an annual review journal publishing articles of broad interest across the field. Over its first decades, approximately 900 articles have been published in these journals, creating one of the most significant sources of knowledge about arts practices in contemporary society.
The Arts knowledge community also has an exciting and rapidly growing book series. Notable recent books include: At Large: Reviewing the Arts in South Africa by Christopher Thurman; Creating a Better Place to Live: The Argument for Craft Education by Howard Cannatella; The End of Art: A Comparative Analysis of French Postmodern Art Theorists by Marie-Thérèse Killiam; Between Grace and Fear: The Role of the Arts in a Time of Change by William Cleveland and Patricia Shifferd; The New Institutional Theory of Art by David Graves; The Doctoral Journey in Music Education by David Forrest; and Art-Based Research: A Proper Thesis by Elaine Martin and Judith Booth.