CRUAT research projects

An outline of research projects undertaken by the Critical Research Unit in Applied Theatre.

Graffiti related to a youth justice Romeo and Juliet drama.

Established in February 2011 in the School of Critical Studies in Education, CRUAT provides an international focus for research in applied theatre. Our research projects, symposia, courses and other activities critically examine, explore and create theatre and performance that addresses significant social issues and contributes to change.

Creative Practice for Youth Wellbeing in Aotearoa New Zealand: Mapping the ecosystem in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland

This research examined organisations supporting the wellbeing of young people through participation in the arts. The research focused, in particular, on organisations in the Auckland region. It scoped the ways in which these organisations understand, carry out and resource their work. The report identifies key challenges for sector sustainability, growth and positive impact across Aotearoa New Zealand. A review of international literature placed this local work in the wider national and international context.

To request the full report, email   

Creative Research Initiative

Funded by a generous gift by the Chartwell Trust, the three-year cross faculty project lead by Professor O’Connor aims:

  • To deepen understanding of the creative process through multi- and transdisciplinary research
  • To develop a self-sustaining and growing team of researchers and teachers in the creative process at the University of Auckland
  • To engage in world-leading cutting edge research on the role and place of the creative process in education
  • To develop novel research measures of the creative environment
  • To disseminate research in a way that can most usefully inform academic debate and inform and influence business leaders and government policy makers.

Creative Schools Initiative

This initiative involves senior academics and researchers from the Universities of Auckland, Sydney and Monash. Central to the project is the development of a robust measure of creative environments in schools. The intention is to develop an index using quantitative data which can be used to inform government policy on education whilst simultaneously providing support to make schools more creative places. This project is therefore at the very forefront of research on creativity and schools.

More importantly aggregation of the school’s creative index will provide information on the relationship between creativity and student achievement. The project aims to be scalable at a level where policy arguments can be made on the interconnectedness of the environment for creativity and achievement in the key areas of literacy and numeracy and student motivation. A statistically reliable index will build on the qualitative research that has recognised the interrelationship for many years and will speak more readily to government education policy makers.