Cate Blanchett: What can you do with an Arts degree?

26 September 2014

Macquarie University Chancellor, The Hon Michael Egan, with Dr Cate Blanchett

“When someone asks ‘what the hell can you do with an Arts degree?,’ ask them ‘what can the world do without one?'”

Accepting her honorary doctorate from Macquarie University, actor Cate Blanchett addressed the graduands in the Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Human Sciences graduation ceremonies held 25th September. She talked about the arts as “the driver of innovation and exploration.”

Blanchett said, “A culture that supports change, adaptation, experimentation, is the only way that a scientist can find the mental space to explore and innovate. A culture that is reduced and closed and inhibited will never result in innovation and exploration, and it will never produce truly great scientists. So you can see it is the cultural space that is the vital ingredient here.”

“The arts are what we stay alive for, what we work all week for, what we dream about, what connects us, and indeed, what some would say makes us human.”

Macquarie University presented Blanchett with a Doctor of Letters honoris causa award in recognition of her extraordinary contribution to the arts, philanthropy, and the community.

In her career across stage and screen, Blanchett has received numerous film and theatre awards including two Academy Awards, three Baftas and three Golden Globe awards. She has also been awarded the Centenary Medal for Service to Australian Society through Acting, and the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister for Culture. She served as Co-Artistic Director and CEO of the Sydney Theatre Company from 2008-2013, alongside Andrew Upton.

A Patron of the Sydney Film Festival, Blanchett is also an Ambassador for the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Australian Film Institute.

Cate Blanchett encouraged the graduands to discover their passion and be open to opportunities, as she did throughout her career.

She said, “The interconnectedness of all these many disciplines reach into the very nook and cranny of our lives on this planet, and the journeys that they take you, and by implication, our society on, are many and varied.”

“My journey thus far, and I hope it continues, looks on paper, random. And indeed being open to randomness, to chance, to variety, and therefore to opportunity has been a vital tool in my own personal creative tool kit.”

“But on a deeper level, it hasn’t been random at all, because it’s held together by my passion and my beliefs. Whatever your area of pursuit, as they change and evolve, these are without doubt the most vital ingredients of all. Discover those and you’re truly on your way.”

Blanchett closed her address with a quote from educationalist Ken Robinson: “Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value. It is a process, it is not random. You can be creative in anything – maths, science, engineering, philosophy, as much as you can in music, painting or dance.

“Creativity is putting your imagination to work and it has produced the most extraordinary results in human culture.”

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