There was a time when many hands would go up at orientation week when University of Wollongong music and arts director Sarah Miller surveyed parents on who was nervous about their child choosing creative arts.
Parents were worried about the employment prospects, they told her then. But in recent years, fewer and fewer hands have been raised.
"I'm finding kids are coming in with a lot of support from their parents," said Professor Miller, now the incoming head of UOW's new School of Arts, English and Media.
"I don't think people suffer from cultural cringe in the way they once did or [accepted] the idea that arts and culture only come from Europe.
"There's a huge flexibility in the sector and we know that employment pathways are multifarious and multifaceted and there is a lot more to working in the arts than what people perhaps saw as the obvious things - an actor, an artist, a musician."
On its 30th anniversary at UOW, there is confidence that the creative arts degree has come of age.
Vice-Chancellor Paul Wellings, marking the milestone, spoke of "Australia's burgeoning creative economy".
"This milestone provides the perfect opportunity to reflect on our contribution to the arts and creative industries, and to celebrate the influence creative arts graduates are having in the fastest-growing employment sector worldwide," he said.
UOW's Executive Dean of Law, Humanities and the Arts, Amanda Lawson, said the growing appreciation for creative arts owed much to the digital revolution, a sentiment given credence in this year's Australian Research Centre Creative Economy Report Card.
According to the report, employment in the creative industries grew 2.8 per cent from 2006-2011 - 40 per cent faster than the economy as a whole.
The report attributed much of the growth to rising demand for digital and design services. The strongest growth in creative services was in photography, digital content and software development, which helped offset decline in some cultural production industries - traditional art products such as books and music - and in journalism jobs.
Employment in the creative industries totalled 531,000 at the time of the 2011 Census - 5.3 per cent of the national workforce.
"It's been a period of massive growth and change and development," Prof Lawson said.
"I think people in the arts always understood there's a large number of people who work around artists in the cultural industries, and that is probably more widely recognised in society now.
"For a student looking at a career path now it's not about the starving artist ... it's about a whole range of things - being an educator, producer, manager, director, curator, designer, a writer, and we can all probably think of hundreds of ways those careers have been taken up.
"I think there's been a shift to seeing this is not just about personal creative expression, it's about being part of a really important part of Australia's productivity."
Leading lights: UOW Creative Arts Alumni
• Stef Dawson, 2004 opera-theatre grad, last month snared the role of Annie Cresta in the upcoming The Hunger Games: Mockingjay parts 1 and 2 films.
• Clare Bowen, cast as sweetheart songbird Scarlett O’Connor in prime-time US musical drama TV series Nashville.
• Van Badham, award-winning playwright with more than 40 plays performed internationally since her 2002 graduation.
• Glenn Barkley, Museum of Contemporary Art curator.
• Lisa Havilah, director of Sydney’s Carriageworks theatre.
• Amy Russell, writer for Australian Geographic magazine.
• Nathan Harrison, founder of Applespiel performance collective.
• David Kirkpatrick, sound and multimedia artist, based in Sydney.
• Morgan Way, digital media graduate-turned-director, producer, writer, WayWard Films.
• Mikelangelo, cabaret performer and frontman, Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen.