Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Why Australia still needs a cultural policy – third time lucky?

It’s no longer the pre-election campaign we had to have. It’s become the election campaign we can’t avoid. We are spiralling inexorably towards election day and Ministers and members have been plummeting from the heights of the Coalition Government like crew abandoning a burning Zeppelin. We may wake on 19 May to find we have a national Labor Government. With Labor pledging to implement an updated version of the short-lived ‘Creative Australia’, its national cultural policy, first promised by the Rudd Government, it’s a good time to reconsider its importance.

National cultural policies come and go – but mainly go. If the relentlessly negative election campaign currently being waged by the Coalition doesn’t succeed, we may find on 19 May that we once again have a Labor Government.

The school student strike against climate change inaction in March 2019 highlighted this as a pressing issue for our political leaders - Australia's culture and its relevance to Australian society is less obvious and more easily overlooked.

It’s certainly strange for an incumbent Government seeking a third term to make absolutely no mention of any achievements in its political advertising – but perhaps there’s a good reason. Depending on how the day turns out, it seems we may be entering a moment in Australian history where once again consideration of the potential of a cultural policy becomes relevant. If so, it will be only the third national cultural policy in our history.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Crossing boundaries – the unlimited landscape of creativity

When I was visiting Paris last year, there was one thing I wanted to do before I returned home – visit the renowned French bakery that had trained a Melbourne woman who had abandoned the high stakes of Formula One racing to become a top croissant maker. She had decided that being an engineer in the world of elite car racing was not for her, but rather that her future lay in the malleable universe of pastry. Crossing boundaries of many kinds and traversing the borders of differing countries and cultures, she built a radically different future to the one she first envisaged.

To appreciate how creativity manifests itself and what drives artists to create, we don’t need to look only in the immediate world of arts, culture and creativity. Examples of this crop up in the most unexpected of places.

Bakery Du Pain et des Idees, Paris

What strikes me about arts, culture and creativity is that at heart it involves crossing boundaries and frontiers – of accepted forms of expression, of widely shared tastes, of expectations, and also of countries. It also requires studying for years to gain skills or qualifications or both so it’s possible to make a career and a living from the training and experience.

‘Abandoning the Formula One racing world, she persuaded the owner to take her on as an apprentice, which he did, recognising the same passion in her as the one that drove him.’