Monday, July 31, 2017

What is art good for? Understanding the value of our arts and culture

With arts and cultural support increasingly under pressure, arts and cultural organisations and artists are trying to find ways in their own localities to respond and to help build a popular understanding of the broader social and economic benefits of arts and culture. Much work has been done in Australia and internationally to understand, assess and communicate the broad value of arts and culture. The challenge is to share and apply what already exists – and to take it further.

If we think – for whatever reason – that arts and culture is of value, it is helpful to be clear exactly why it has value. Apart from the secondary usefulness of this for arguing for support or commitment of government and private resources, it has a much more important primary use. If we value something, it is useful to understand what that value consists of.

Breakout session at the Arts Value Forum on the link between arts and culture and identity and society.

We value many things – how do we make a judgement about what we value most? It’s like the thorny question asked of those about to flee a fire – what would you take first, your family photo albums, your pets? It’s a question that tends to sharpen the mind and has many useful applications. If we understand how and why we value something we are better placed to fully realise that value – as well as share it, protect it and extend it.

The Arts Value Forum
The recent Arts Value Forum (#ArtsValueForum) presented at the Canberra Theatre Centre by local ACT arts advocacy body, The Childers Group, of which I am currently a member, in conjunction with the ACT Cultural Facilities Corporation, has turned my mind again to some work I had been preparing over the last 12 months. It looks at how we understand, assess and communicate the broad value of arts and culture.

With arts and cultural support increasingly under pressure, arts and cultural organisations and artists are trying to find ways in their own localities to respond and to help build a popular understanding of the broader social and economic benefits of arts and culture.

The Arts Value Forum aimed to help equip those attending to understand and explain the broad value of arts and culture in our communities. To emphasise the important role of Government in supporting and drawing on the arts, the Forum was opened by the Head of the ACT Public Service, Kathy Leigh.

‘With arts and cultural support increasingly under pressure, arts and cultural organisations and artists are trying to find ways in their own localities to respond and to help build a popular understanding of the broader social and economic benefits of arts and culture.’

The Forum asked ‘What exactly do the arts do for us: for our society, for our economy, for our health and wellbeing, for innovation, for education, for self-expression – and for the creation of beautiful and useful things? How do we understand, express and measure the value of the arts?’

Closing session of Arts Value Forum, Canberra Theatre Centre, July 2017.

Leading experts and practitioners in health, economics, culture and the arts shared insights on the diverse impact and value of the arts in our community. The stellar lineup of arts and cultural practitioners took part in an extended conversation designed to make the value of the arts clearer. The aim was for participants to walk away with fresh insight into how to speak with their audiences and customers, with their funding body, sponsors and neighbours – to convey clearly what it is they do, and how their work in the arts adds value to society.

Shared recognition and understanding
A shared and agreed recognition and understanding of the broad value of arts and culture is an issue for every country and every community. Working in the arts and culture sector or in the part of government dealing with it, this is an everyday issue. For those who recognise the strategic importance of the arts and culture sector to win wide acceptance of that, a broad and long-term campaign to change hearts and minds is needed. For that evidence and a clear understanding of how it all works is required.

However, we also need evidence and understanding for our own purposes. In my time managing various national arts and cultural funding programs I quickly realised that while government funding bodies might need the sort of information collected from funded organisations, those organisations needed it far more – for their planning and to report to their Boards and their communities. They needed it to know whether what they were doing was effective and worthwhile – or whether they should have been doing something else.

‘We…need evidence and understanding for our own purposes….While government funding bodies might need the sort of information collected from funded organisations, those organisations [need] it far more – for their planning and to report to their Boards and their communities.’

We are now well into 2017, still wondering if it will be a better – or worse – year for Australia’s arts and culture than the last three. It seems a good moment to revisit the fundamental question of how we assess and communicate the value of arts and culture.

It is particularly pertinent as the arts and culture sector starts to organise in a more effective way to prevent, or at least limit, the sort of cultural damage we have seen recently and to look to the long term future of Australia’s arts and culture.

Global challenges and connections
My revisiting of the importance of research for arts and culture was originally stimulated by a presentation from Professor Geoffrey Crossick while on a visit to Australia in July last year. The talk reminded me how crucial an issue this is for countries world-wide.

I’ve been thinking about this issue since the talk last year and, with my involvement in the Arts Value Forum yesterday, it focused my mind even more. In this article I look at some of the central issues in researching the value of arts and culture, while referring back to the UK study, where relevant. I have also written a second related article about my own experience working on research about arts and culture while I was in the Australian Government. I’ll publish that in the near future.

Professor Geoffrey Crossick is Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at the School of Advanced Study of the University of London, Director of the ‘Cultural Value’ project of the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council and co-author of its report, ‘Understanding the Value of Arts and Culture’. The study illustrates how, just like the Australian arts and culture sector, the British have had to grapple with this issue. In his talk he spoke about some of the issues it tried to address.

Understanding and misunderstanding – arts and culture and the role of government
This study set out to understand the value of arts and culture, rather than to provide a lobbying or advocacy tool. In doing so, it helped lay the basis for more informed and focused advocacy about the value of arts and culture. The study also clearly noted the critical point I mentioned earlier about the importance of evaluation and research for cultural organisations themselves, rather than mainly being driven by the need to report to funding bodies. This is not to say that the needs of funding bodies or the priorities of government aren’t important, merely that the starting point for engagement has to be the recognition that research is not simply to help tick boxes, but to inform strategy.

Professor Crossick began by asking ‘How should we understand the difference that arts and culture makes to individuals and to society?’ He went on to note that the case is too often presented in terms of benefits that are thought to be important to the government of the day while neglecting some of the more fundamental benefits that matter to us all. As a result, he argued, we need to think again about how we discuss these issues and not make claims that are difficult to substantiate. He also noted that it is important to demonstrate that methods from the arts and humanities have a good deal to offer as we seek evidence for the difference that arts and culture makes.

‘An important priority will be to ensure that the research to date – of all kinds and scale – is not overlooked by those working in the arts and culture sector and that we neither reinvent the wheel not overlook crucial areas that we still know little about.’

I found his discussion of this global challenge and global effort compelling because of its relevance to the very same challenges we face in Australia. This is true elsewhere as well. Part of the project was also linked to North American efforts, with a joint symposium organised with the US Endowment for the Arts to incorporate North American experience. Hopefully that research is currently being used in the United States to argue the case for government support for arts and culture, in a changed political environment that was not envisaged at the time of the project.

However, we have to keep the involvement of government in support for arts and culture in perspective. Governments of all kinds will express their support for arts and culture in many of the same terms as the arts and culture sector itself. Further, while the economic benefits of arts and culture may be only one aspect of its impact, we have to recognise that if we are talking about governments having to justify their spending of taxpayer money on arts and culture, economic benefits are always going to have to be demonstrated.

The report of the Cultural Value Project also makes mention of the influential work of Australian cultural economist David Throsby in this area. There is an enormous amount of work available, both in terms of the discussion of how to value culture (considering intrinsic versus instrumental approaches and looking at the issue of economic benefits) and attempts to define and measure the value of culture. An immense amount of this work has been done in Australia, some of it quite far-reaching, and it is an ongoing priority for researchers.

Challenge to share and communicate
A former colleague and experienced researcher at the Australia Council, Mandy Whitford, has been very helpful in directing me to some of the array of research that has occurred or is underway, both in Australia and overseas. Mandy previously worked in the Arts Division of the Department of Communications and the Arts and brings that valuable background to her current work. In the Arts Division she worked with me in the Indigenous cultural programs and produced some ground-breaking work of the important role of First Nations culture and languages in building individual and community wellbeing.

In Australia, the Cultural Development Network and the Local Government Cultural Forum have undertaken a considerable body of work on outcome measures and the Cultural Development Network publishes a regular newsletter. There is also other work happening across various areas of government to align definitions and frameworks.

The Australia Council’s 2015 Arts Nation report brought together research information and indicators, including some experimental analysis of the economic contribution of the arts to wellbeing (see pages 41-43). I understand that the Australia Council is undertaking a revamp of its website to enable better sharing and promoting of research and data, with a move towards open data. In 2017 Arts Nation became an interactive web presence. Online, Arts Nation continues and expands the work of the original publication, presenting the full range of Australia Council research in an interactive and accessible format. 

This includes the Council’s latest study Connecting Australians: Results of the National Arts Participation Survey, which confirms the significant and increasing personal value Australians place on the impacts of the arts, including on our wellbeing; and the ways in which they make our communities stronger and more cohesive. It also includes a recent study the Australia Council published with Macquarie University, Reading the Reader, which looks at the value Australians place on books and reading.

From 2012 to 2015, Professor Throsby and Howard Morphy undertook an ARC Linkage research project on the Value of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage. There has also been an enormous amount of research about remote Indigenous art centres published under the large-scale multi-year, multi-pronged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Economies project, which took place from July 2010 to June 2016.  The project outline, further project information and an extensive list of reports and other material produced by the project are all available.

‘An important challenge will be to ensure that the research to date – of all kinds and scale and from all countries – is not overlooked by those working in the arts and culture sector and that we neither reinvent the wheel nor overlook crucial areas that we still know little about. Sharing and communicating the research that has been done already will be crucial.’

The Institute for Culture and Society at the Western Sydney University has also produced a large body of wide-ranging research. The Institute researches transformations in culture and society in the context of contemporary global change. It champions collaborative engaged research in the humanities and social sciences for a globalising digital age.

There is also the wide range of research produced by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation at the Queensland University of Technology. The Centre for Excellence is a broadly-based, cross-disciplinary, internationally-focused centre embracing both fundamental theoretical, and highly applied, research in media, cultural and communication studies, law, education, economics and business and information technology, addressing key problems and opportunities arising for Australia, the Asian region, and more broadly in the world, from innovation in and through the creative economy. Its pioneering work on identifying the scope and reach of the creative economy has had wide-spread application. In fact, when I used to work on creative industries research and policy in the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts from 2002 to 2005, the Department and the National Office for the Information Economy actively partnered with the Queensland University of Technology and the Australian Film Commission to help develop this research. The results were used to inform policy development. and briefings.

The use of the approach of Culture Counts is growing as a measurement tool in Australia, and the UK-based company draws on the expertise of partner, Michael Chappell, Managing Director of Australian company, Pracsys. Michael Chappell was on the Panel at the Arts Value Forum.

There are also a number of useful reports about the economic contribution of arts and culture. These include the ‘Economic Contribution of Australia’s Copyright Industries, 2002-2014’, prepared by Price Waterhouse Cooper in 2015 for the Australian Copyright Council. There is also a 2013 report prepared for the Creative Industries Innovation Centre by CSG Economics, ‘Valuing Australia’s Creative Industries.

There have also been a range of international studies, including the Cultural and Creative Industries Study, which takes a global perspective, the 2015 report by the Arts Council of England, Contribution of the arts and culture industry to the national economy, and the US report, National Center for Arts Research: Volume Two ReportThere is also the recent report of the all party Parliamentary inquiry in the UK into the link between arts and health.

An important challenge will be to ensure that the research to date – of all kinds and scale and from all countries – is not overlooked by those working in the arts and culture sector and that we neither reinvent the wheel nor overlook crucial areas that we still know little about. Sharing and communicating the research that has been done already will be crucial.

Addressing a global issue
There are some important issues for research of this nature, which are underlined in the British study, but which arise more generally.
  • It needs to address some important dichotomies, such as intrinsic/instrumental, popular/elite, and professional/amateur. 
  • It is important to cast the research net broadly to look at not just subsidised art and culture, but also commercial, participatory, and amateur. In a digital world these are increasingly important and the distinction between them and subsidised arts is far less sharp. It's also good to then look at the intersection and overlap across the whole range of activity – publically-funded, private and commercial. 
  • It is crucial to address the question of identifying causal pathways and recognises that these pathways are long and winding and often not immediately obvious because the causal links are indirect.
  • The value of a palette of methodologies for different tasks needs to be recognised – horses for courses – and the importance of a long-term approach. This means selecting the methodology appropriate to the specific study undertaken, to understand different components of the value of arts and culture. Longitudinal studies are crucial in any complex area like this.
  • Noted researcher, Distinguished Professor Stuart Cunningham, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation at Queensland University of Technology, has added a word of caution. We need to recognise a major issue with this sort of research is that there is a very high level of correlation between high socio-economic status and already accumulated cultural capital and spending in the arts. This can muddy the waters of research about the broader impacts of arts and culture.
Avoiding the trap of misguided dichotomies
There is a useful discussion in the UK report about the very long tradition of instrumentalism in looking at arts and culture, which notes than an instrumental view can encompass both the positive – and negative – impacts of arts and culture. The dichotomy between the instrumental and the intrinsic value of arts and culture can be another trap for the unwary.

‘We have to move beyond such dichotomies in search of a more dynamic view of arts and culture.’

Focusing on restrictive dichotomies, like ‘excellence’ on the one hand and the broadening of access and involvement on the other, is ultimately counter-productive – just as in sport or science or most other areas of human activity, supporting a broad base of interest and involvement is the only way to build a strong body of ‘excellence’.

We have to move beyond such dichotomies in search of a more dynamic view of arts and culture. One way might be to recognise that the span of culture is so broad that while we need to recognise that it is all interconnected, perhap it’s time to acknowledge that creative industries might need to be addressed by economic policy and other aspects of culture by cultural policy or by a mix of both.

Perhaps there is no one answer. It reminds me of a forum on First Nations languages in schools, organised by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority when it was developing the Australian national curriculum. Asked whether they would prefer to have a separate Indigenous strand in the curriculum or an Indigenous component in each of the individual subject strands, the First Nations languages organisations present replied that to be effective, both were needed.

The big and broad picture – looking beyond the obvious and the immediate
It’s important to look beyond funding when we talk about the arts, so it is critical that research enables us to broaden the terms of discussion far beyond the question of arts funding.

The UK project refers to both narrower and broader definitions of culture, as it grapples with the age old and thorny question of what culture actually is. I found this echoed very practical discussions that had occurred within the Australian Government around the scope of arts and culture. When the national arts and culture agency, now called the Arts Division of the Department of Communications and the Arts, was transferred to the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts after the election of the Rudd Government, an interesting ‘culture’ shock ensued.

‘Focusing on restrictive dichotomies, like “excellence” on the one hand and the broadening of access and involvement on the other, is ultimately counter-productive – just as in sport or science or most other areas of human activity, supporting a broad base of interest and involvement is the only way to build a strong body of “excellence”.’

The Indigenous cultural programs moved into a much broader range of Indigenous programs, encompassing heritage, the physical environment and landcare and traditional knowledge. To these areas, culture meant the whole broad gamut of shared human values and social practices – what communities believed and how they interacted with others and the environment. For the arts and culture division, culture was much more focused, the creative expression of this broader form of culture and initially there was confusion about what everyone meant when they said ‘culture’.

The British study found that the main area of cultural involvement and engagement is in the home. It makes the point that research in 2011 estimated that 94% of the viewing of film ocurs in the home, yet all our public discussion of film is about it being shown and watched in theatres. This is why the digital realm will become increasingly important because, for the home, the digital universe is the main window into the world.

‘The broader and longer-term impact of arts and culture through personal experience of involvement in arts and cultural activity is so pervasive and profound that the relatively restricted framework of something like an economic impact study cannot possibly capture it.’

We also have to be prepared to reconsider our starting point. The cultural value study touches on this in considering the issue of how culturally pre-ordained hierarchies shape research by influencing the questions being asked – which of course dictates the sort of answers that are possible. It notes, ‘We’re interested in whether studying music improves ability in maths, but not whether studying maths improves ability in music.’

The cultural value study also argues that the broader and longer-term impact of arts and culture through personal experience of involvement in arts and cultural activity is so pervasive and profound that the relatively restricted framework of something like an economic impact study cannot possibly capture it.

How and how much: complex long term causal paths and the scale of impact
Let’s move beyond the undeniable immediate impact of arts and culture. At the heart of understanding the broader value of arts and culture is the need to understand the winding and complex path of causality, linked with the need for longitudinal studies to track the long-term impacts, coupled with the need for evaluation to be built into projects from the very start. We need sophisticated analysis because we are talking about quite complex causal paths. The distinction the study emphasises between qualitative and quantitative research, and the importance of both, bears on the difference between tracking the causal path on the one hand and measuring the extent of the impact on the other.

Some of Australia’s most effective cultural organisations operate with a firm focus on the broader impacts of arts and culture. For example, BIG hART, Australia’s leading arts and social change company, is well aware that such impacts are many and diverse. However it is not only organisations like BIG hART – that consciously seek broader impacts – which create them. One of our challenges is to discern the more indirect and subtle social and economic impacts of artists and organisations that may not even consciously seek them.

It's a useful starting point to take the view that arts and culture is of value in its own right – for an infinite range of reasons. However, for our own purposes, we need to understand the nature of the broader impact that the work of companies like BIG hART has – and to track the scale and reach of this impact. If arts changes lives, we need to understand what these changes are, how they happen and how big and frequent they are. Only then will we appreciate the full power of arts and culture in our lives and the lives of our communities.

See also

‘indefinite article’ on Facebook – short arts updates and commentary
‘Short arts updates and irreverent cultural commentary about contemporary Australian society, popular culture, the creative economy and the digital and online world – life in the trenches and on the beaches of the information age’, 'indefinite article' on Facebook.

Standing out in the crowd – a regional road tour of arts and culture
A recent regional road tour through Victoria to South Australia showed how a focus on arts and culture is a pointer for how regional centres can take a path other than slow decline. It also showed how a small country on the edges of the mainstream can become a global design force by staying true to its language, locality and culture – the things that make it distinctive in a crowded, noisy marketplace dominated by big, cashed up players, Standing out in the crowd – a regional road tour of arts and culture.

Taking part – Arts involvement in a divided Australia
‘The arts and culture sector has long suffered from a shortage of high quality, useable research and statistics. This makes what is available doubly important as we argue the case for the central relevance of arts and culture and the broader social and economic impact of involvement. New research demonstrates the positive scale of involvement, views on importance and trends in participation in Australia’s arts and cultural life, especially hands on involvement. It also shows a worrying decline in engagement and recognition in recent years and points to the need for a more strategic view by government’, Taking part – Arts involvement in a divided Australia.

Creating the future for Australia's arts and culture
‘Australia’s arts and culture is at a critical stage. One of the issues confronting it is lack of any kind of shared sense of what the role of government is in encouraging our arts and culture. The whole set of interlinked problems with the relationship between government and Australia’s arts and culture can be reduced to a lack of strategic vision and a long-term plan for the future. This deficiency is most apparent in the lack of any guiding policy, like trying to navigate a dark and dangerous tunnel without a torch or flying at night without lights or a map’, Creating the future for Australia's arts and culture.

If the arts are important but not enough people know it, are they really important?
‘As the new landscape of Australia’s arts and culture emerge in the post-Brandis era, we are starting to see how organisations are adapting and the issues they are facing in doing so. To a lesser degree we are also seeing how artists themselves are responding. It seems clear that the absence of any overall strategic approach to arts and culture – whether from the Government or from the arts and culture sector – is having a deadening effect’, If the arts are important but not enough people know it, are they really important?

The big picture and long view – creating a cultural future
‘The never-ending election campaign that became the never-ending election tally has turned into the unpredictable second term government. What does this new world of fragmented politics mean for Australian arts and culture and the organisations, artists and communities which live it and advance it? There are a series of major factors which are hammering arts and culture organisations. These intersect and mutually reinforce one another to produce a cumulative and compounding long term disastrous impact. All this is happening in a context where there is no strategic policy or overview to guide Government. It is critical for the future that the arts and culture sector think broadly about arts and culture, build broad alliances and partnerships, never forget its underlying values and draw on its inherent creativity to help create a society based firmly on arts and culture’, The big picture and long view – creating a cultural future.

Lies, damned lies and lies about statistics – how population growth will magnify the impact of arts and culture cuts
‘I’ve said before that the traditional saying about ‘lies, damned lies and statistics’, should instead refer to ‘lies, damned lies and lies about statistics’. Cuts to national arts and cultural funding, while relatively small each year, have a cumulative effect far greater than at first appears and, in the long run, will undermine the effectiveness of national arts and culture support. Where the real disastrous impact of these cuts will hit home is when we also factor in the impact of population growth. If anything, there needs to be an expansion of arts and cultural funding to service the growth’, Lies, damned lies and lies about statistics – how population growth will magnify the impact of arts and culture cuts.

Arts and culture part of everyday life and on the main agenda
‘There’s an election in the air and I was thinking about what would be a good list of positive improvements that would benefit Australia’s arts and culture, so I jotted down some ideas. They are about recognising arts and culture as a central part of everyday life and an essential component of the big agenda for Australia. They are about where the knowledge economy, creative industries and arts and culture fit, how arts and culture explain what it means to be Australian and how they are a valuable means of addressing pressing social challenges’, Arts and culture part of everyday life and on the main agenda.

Full circle – where next for Australian national arts and culture support in the 21st Century?
‘With a Coalition Government which now stands a far better chance of being re-elected for a second term, the transfer of the Commonwealth’s Arts Ministry to Communications helps get arts and culture back onto larger and more contemporary agendas. This move reflects that fact that the new industries in the knowledge economy of the future, with its core of creative industries and its links to our cultural landscape, are both clever and clean. Where they differ completely from other knowledge economy sectors is that, because they are based on content, they draw on, intersect with and contribute to Australia’s national and local culture and are a central part of projecting Australia’s story to ourselves and to the world. In that sense they have a strategic importance that other sectors do not’, Full circle – where next for Australian national arts and culture support in the 21st Century?

Time for the big picture and long view for arts and culture
‘A far more important issue than arts funding is how can the broad arts and cultural sector become a better organised, effective voice for arts and culture and its wider importance for Australia? Changes like this happen because they are able to happen – because decision-makers think they can get away with it. The arts and culture sector and its supporters have to be influential enough that decision-makers think carefully about the importance and the standing of Australia’s arts and culture and weigh any decisions they make carefully in terms of the strategic needs of the sector. These current dire circumstances may provide the opportunity we have needed to look seriously at this question’, Time for the big picture and long view for arts and culture.

Art for arts sake, art for society’s sake or arts as entertainment?
‘Case studies and anecdotal evidence show that involvement in cultural (and sporting) activity – by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities – often has powerful flow on social and economic effects. However, this is not why people are involved in cultural activity – it’s just a bonus. It shouldn’t be ignored and it can be harnessed to good effect but we have to be careful not to focus just on the side effects, no matter how important. Cultural activity is an expression of who we are, what we value and how we see ourselves and our place in the world. That’s much more important. Few would suggest that non-Indigenous culture should only be supported where it can be shown to produce some social or economic impact. Indigenous culture is far more than a way of fixing social problems – it is a powerful positive force in Australian culture, a central part of our presence in the world’, Art for arts sake, art for society’s sake or arts as entertainment?

Cut to the bone – the accelerating decline of our major cultural institutions and its impact on Australia’s national heritage and economy
‘I always thought that long after all else has gone, after government has pruned and prioritised and slashed and bashed arts and cultural support, the national cultural institutions would still remain. They are one of the largest single items of Australian Government cultural funding and one of the longest supported and they would be likely to be the last to go, even with the most miserly and mean-spirited and short sighted of governments. However, in a finale to a series of cumulative cuts over recent years, they have seen their capabilities to carry out their essential core roles eroded beyond repair. The long term impact of these cumulative changes will be major and unexpected, magnifying over time as each small change reinforces the others. The likelihood is that this will lead to irreversible damage to the contemporary culture and cultural heritage of the nation at a crucial crossroads in its history’, Cut to the bone – the accelerating decline of our major cultural institutions and its impact on Australia’s national heritage and economy.

Arts, culture and a map of the future – the limits of arts policy
‘In the arts, from a virtual policy-free zone, we’ve now got policies – not as many as we could have hoped, but enough to be going on with. Some of them might even get implemented. Importantly, the others will help to frame the debate and offer ideas for the future. Those parties that have arts policies offer good solid and productive proposals which, if implemented, would lead to definite improvement for Australia’s arts and culture. However, that’s just the starting point’, Arts, culture and a map of the future – the limits of arts policy.

Arts funding – it’s not all about the money
‘National Arts Minister, Mitch Fifield, has said that being a strong advocate for the arts doesn’t mean delivering government funding and that an arts Minister or a government shouldn’t be judged just on the quantum of money the government puts in. This sidesteps the Government’s very real problems that it has muddied the waters of existing arts funding, cutting many worthwhile organisations loose with no reason, that rather than delivering arts funding, it has reduced it significantly, and that it has no coherent strategy or policy to guide its arts decisions or direction. The real issue is that a national framework, strategy or policy for arts and culture support underpins and provides a rationale for arts funding – and is far more important’, Arts funding – it’s not all about the money.

Dear Treasurer – our arts are central to everyday life, why doesn’t funding reflect it?
‘In response to steadily diminishing support for arts and culture by government, it's crucial to recognise that Australia's arts are central to everyday life and should be firmly on the main national agenda. Apart from their value in maintaining a thriving Australian culture, the range of social and economic benefits they deliver and their role in telling Australia's story to ourselves and the world make them an essential service’, Dear Treasurer – our arts are central to everyday life, why doesn’t funding reflect it?

Designs on the future – how Australia’s designed city has global plans
‘In many ways design is a central part of the vocabulary of our time and integrally related to so many powerful social and economic forces – creative industries, popular culture, the digital transformation of society. Design is often misunderstood or overlooked and it's universal vocabulary and pervasive nature is not widely understood, especially by government. In a rapidly changing world, there is a constant tussle between the local and the national (not to mention the international). This all comes together in the vision for the future that is Design Canberra, a celebration of all things design, with preparations well underway for a month long festival this year. The ultimate vision of Craft ACT for Canberra is to add another major annual event to Floriade, Enlighten and the Multicultural Festival, filling a gap between them and complementing them all’, Designs on the future – how Australia’s designed city has global plans.

Creativity at work – economic engine for our cities
‘It is becoming abundantly clear that in our contemporary world two critical things will help shape the way we make a living – and our economy overall. The first is the central role of cities in generating wealth. The second is the knowledge economy of the future and, more particularly, the creative industries that sit at its heart. In Sydney, Australia’s largest city, both of these come together in a scattering of evolving creative clusters – concentrations of creative individuals and small businesses, clumped together in geographic proximity. This development is part of a national and world-wide trend which has profound implications’, Creativity at work – economic engine for our cities.

The immense potential of creative industries for regional revival
‘Across Australia, local communities facing major economic and social challenges have become interested in the joint potential of regional arts and local creative industries to contribute to or often lead regional revival. This has paralleled the increasing importance of our major cities as economic hubs and centres of innovation’, The immense potential of creative industries for regional revival.

The clever business of creativity: the experience of supporting Australia's industries of the future
‘The swan song of the Creative Industries Innovation Centre, ‘Creative Business in Australia’, outlines the experience of five years supporting Australia’s creative industries. Case studies and wide-ranging analysis explain the critical importance of these industries to Australia’s future. The knowledge economy of the future, with its core of creative industries and its links to our cultural landscape, is both clever and clean. Where the creative industries differ completely from other knowledge economy sectors is that, because they are based on content, they draw on, intersect with and contribute to Australia’s national and local culture’, The clever business of creativity: the experience of supporting Australia's industries of the future.

Creative industries critical to vitality of Australian culture
‘The developing creative industries are a critical part of Australia’s future – clean, innovative, at their core based on small business and closely linked to the profile of Australia as a clever country, both domestically and internationally.’ Creative industries critical to vitality of Australian culture.

My nephew just got a job with Weta – the long road of the interconnected world
‘My nephew just got a job in Wellington New Zealand with Weta Digital, which makes the digital effects for Peter Jackson’s epics. Expertise, specialist skills and industry pockets can occur just about anywhere, as long as you have connectivity, talent and a framework of support that makes it possible. This is part of the new knowledge economy of the future, with its core of creative industries and its links to our cultural landscape. Increasingly the industries of the future are both clever and clean. At their heart are the developing creative industries which are based on the power of creativity and are a critical part of Australia’s future – innovative, in most cases centred on small business and closely linked to the profile of Australia as a clever country, both domestically and internationally. This is transforming the political landscape of Australia, challenging old political franchises and upping the stakes in the offerings department’, My nephew just got a job with Weta – the long road of the interconnected world.

Applied creativity
‘I have been dealing with the issue of creativity for as long as I can remember. Recently, I have had to deal with a new concept—innovation. All too often, creativity is confused with innovation. A number of writers about innovation have made the point that innovation and creativity are different. In their view, innovation involves taking a creative idea and commercialising it. If we look more broadly, we see that innovation may not necessarily involve only commercialising ideas. Instead the core feature is application—innovation is applied creativity. Even ideas that may seem very radical can slip into the wider culture in unexpected ways’, Applied creativity.

Creative industries – applied arts and sciences
‘The nineteenth century fascination with applied arts and sciences — the economic application of nature, arts and sciences — and the intersection of these diverse areas and their role in technological innovation are as relevant today for our creative industries. From the Garden Palace, home of Australia’s first international exhibition in 1879, to the Economic Gardens in Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens these collections and exhibitions lay the basis for modern Australian industry. The vast Garden Palace building in the Sydney Botanic Gardens was the Australian version of the great Victorian-era industrial expositions, where, in huge palaces of glass, steel and timber, industry, invention, science, the arts and nature all intersected and overlapped. Despite burning to the ground, it went on to become the inspiration for what eventually became the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences — the Powerhouse Museum’, Creative Industries.

History all around us – the long term practical impact of cultural research 
‘Cultural research has long term impacts in terms of our developing body of knowledge which stretch far into the future. Researchers are finding stories in our major cultural collections that were never envisaged by those originally assembling them – a process that will continue long into the future. The collections of our major cultural institutions are becoming increasingly accessible to the very people the collections are drawn from and reflect. In the process they are generating greater understanding about some of the major contemporary issues we face’, History all around us – the long term practical impact of cultural research.

Indigenous culture and Closing the Gap
‘Experience of many years of the Indigenous culture programs shows that involvement in arts and cultural activity often has powerful flow on social and economic effects.’ The gap in Closing the Gap.

The hidden universe of Australia's own languages
‘I’ve travelled around much of Australia, by foot, by plane, by train and by bus, but mostly by car. As I travelled across all those kilometres and many decades, I never realised that, without ever knowing, I would be silently crossing from one country into another, while underneath the surface of the landscape flashing past, languages were changing like the colour and shape of the grasses or the trees. The parallel universe of Indigenous languages is unfortunately an unexpected world little-known to most Australians.’ The hidden universe of Australia's own languages.

Indigenous cultural jobs – real jobs in an unreal world
'Subsidised Indigenous arts and cultural jobs are real jobs with career paths that deliver genuine skills and employment capability.' Real jobs in an unreal world.

Why cultural diversity is central to Australia’s future promise – a refocused Labor arts policy?
‘Can Australia successfully navigate the treacherous and confusing times in which we live? Understanding the crucial importance of our cultural diversity to our cultural, social and economic future will be essential. Applying that in the policies and practices that shape our future at all levels across Australia can ensure we have a bright, productive and interesting 21st Century. An important part of this are the political parties, major and minor, that are increasingly negotiating the compromises that shape our world. The recent launch by the Labor Party of a new group, Labor for the Arts, could be an important development. Combining as it does a focus from an earlier time on both arts and multiculturalism, it could potentially open the way for some innovative and forward-thinking policy’, Understanding why cultural diversity is central to Australia’s future promise – a refocused Labor arts policy?

Missing evidence
‘More than ever we need an evidence base for policy to ensure that resources are applied most effectively and government action reflects real long-term cultural, social and economic trends and dynamics. Unfortunately, at the same time, we are all too often seeing the very services needed for this to occur being drastically trimmed or redirected. It’s too often a case of not ‘spending a penny to save a pound’. Any diminution of the role of the ABS in collecting statistics about the arts and cultural sector is particularly worrying because the value of these statistics in the ability to compare them over a long period and identify crucial trends. It would be like flying the passenger jet of public policy with eyes closed, radar turned off and maps out of date’, Missing evidence.

Predicting the weather
‘I grew up in a world where there was a definite set of things you knew - and one of them was not what would happen with the weather. The other day I was talking to someone who must have grown up in the same period. We were chatting casually about the weather and she made a comment - quite seriously - that weather forecasts were usually wrong. Unfortunately she was thirty years out of date. What amazes me is that the weather forecasts are usually so right’, Predicting the weather.

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