Professor Steve Dixon
Prof Steve Dixon is a world-renowned academic, researcher and interdisciplinary artist with a distinguished career in both higher education leadership and the professional creative industries.
He joined LASALLE College of the Arts as its sixth President in February 2012.
Following a successful career as an actor and award-winning director of film and digital media productions, Steve became an academic in 1991. He quickly established an international reputation for his research in the use of media and computing technologies in the performing arts.
His seminal, 800 page book, Digital Performance is recognised as the most comprehensive scholarly work on the subject and won international awards including the Association of American Publishers Award for Excellence in Music and the Performing Arts.
He has an accomplished record as a strategic and visionary leader. Prior to LASALLE he was Head of the School of Arts, then Pro Vice Chancellor at Brunel University, London. As Head of School, he was responsible for a significant growth in external income, postgraduate student numbers and the international profile of the School’s research. As Pro Vice Chancellor, he spearheaded initiatives to develop business partnerships, secure multi-million pound research contracts and to maximise the external impact of the University’s portfolio of research and teaching programmes.
After graduating with a drama degree from Manchester University in 1977, Prof Dixon became an actor and worked in theatre, film and television with many of the UK’s leading directors including Steven Berkoff, Michael Blakemore, and the current and former directors of the National Theatre, Nicholas Hytner and Richard Eyre.
He went on to become a successful theatre director and opera producer, and then turned his attentions to directing film, video and digital media. He has produced and directed a range of movies, television series and CD-ROMs for which he has won national and international awards.
Since becoming an academic in 1991, Prof Dixon has continued to direct and perform, particularly with his own company The Chameleons Group (established 1994) which tours internationally with spectacular multimedia performances. He has also directed a number of ambitious interactive Internet performances. His recent practice includes collaborations with actor Rik Mayall, with media artist Paul Sermon, and a one-man multimedia theatre interpretation of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, which he performed in 2014 in Singapore (Drama Centre, NUS, NTU) and Brazil (University of Sao Paulo).
Prof Dixon began his higher education career at Salford University in Manchester, UK, and led innovative developments including creating the first UK degree to combine Media and Performance training. He went on to become the University’s Head of Performance, and later the Associate Head of School of Media, Music and Performance, responsible for academic programme developments and quality assurance.
In 2005 he became Head (Dean) of the School of Arts at Brunel University in London where he led strategic developments to enhance its research profile, expand its academic provision, and recruit world-leading academics and artists (including novelist Fay Weldon and performance artist Stelarc). He initiated 11 new Masters courses; introduced new subject areas including Creative Writing, Journalism and Videogames Design; and opened a new theatre and performance building. The School dramatically increased its research income, and international and postgraduate student numbers in arts.
In 2008 he was promoted to Pro-Vice Chancellor (Deputy Head) of Brunel University, leading the university’s strategy, development and business partnerships. Prof Dixon oversaw major external initiatives including securing multi-million pound grants, research collaborations with companies such as Jaguar Land Rover, and three awards for business excellence. He led the development of Brunel University’s Strategic Plan for 2012-17, initiated and produced a highly popular annual Public Lecture Series, and led interdisciplinary arts initiatives as Director of Brunel’s Collaborative Research Network in Creative Industries.
RESEARCH PROFILE AND ADVISORY POSITIONS
Prof Dixon is an internationally renowned researcher in the use of media and computer technologies in the performing arts. He was co-director of the Digital Performance Archive, which established the largest online database in the field, and he co-founded the International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media.
His 800-page book Digital Performance (MIT Press, 2007) is the most comprehensive study to date, providing a detailed history and analysis of the field and proposing bold new theoretical arguments. Acclaimed in scholarly reviews as ‘Herculean’, ‘stunning’, ‘groundbreaking’, and ‘seminal’, it won international book awards including the Association of American Publishers Award for Excellence in Music and the Performing Arts. Steve has also published in leading journals on subjects including theatre studies, film theory, digital arts, robotics, Artificial Intelligence and pedagogy.
He has been invited to undertake residencies (combining lectures with practical workshops) at prestigious universities including Stanford and Georgia Institute of Technology in the USA, Bayreuth in Germany, Paris Sorbonne in France and Adam Mickiewicz in Poland, and to present lectures at the UK Universities of Cambridge, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and Kings College London.
He has had a long relationship with one of China’s premiere acting schools, within the Beijing Film Academy (1998-2002), where he has delivered lectures and workshops on acting for camera (one of his teaching specialisms). He has been an advisor to KAIST (Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) and has held Visiting Professorship positions at Salford and Ulster Universities.
Steve has been an Arts and Humanities Research Council panel member, responsible for the distribution of UK research funding for Music and Performing Arts (2006-10), and has worked in advisory capacities for the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Arts Council of England and the UK Parliament. He holds a higher Doctorate (Doctor of Letters) and is a Fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the Arts, Manufactures & Commerce).
Prof Dixon is married to Prue Dixon, a fine artist; they have three daughters who are all involved in the arts.