Monday, September 9, 2019

The future of arts practice – navigating the creative economy

In a rapidly changing and difficult environment, it often seems a miracle that artists can continue to practice at all – and even sometimes make a living from their art. Increasingly we need to try to answer some important questions, including: ‘What does a sustainable arts practice mean and what does it look like’, and ‘how does the business of art affect the practice of art?’ These questions about the role of artists in the cultural sector, let alone in the broader society and economy, are important because they are linked to a range of crucial issues for the future of our society.

In a rapidly changing and difficult environment, it often seems a miracle that artists can continue to practice at all – and even sometimes make a living from their art. Canberra arts advocacy body, the Childers Group (of which I have been a member for the last couple of years), with the support of ACT Government agency, the Cultural Facilities Corporation, will tackle this complex issue at a forum towards the end of this year. ‘Sustainable arts practice: creativity and business’ is on Friday, 1 November 2019, from 3.30pm to 6.30pm at the Theatrette at the Canberra Museum and Gallery (CMAG), London Circuit, Civic in Canberra.

Breakout forum at Arts Value Forum, 2017.

This is the most recent of a long series of both large and small forums addressing crucial issues in the arts and culture sector, that have been jointly presented by the Childers Group and the Cultural Facilities Corporation. The previous event, in June 2017, was the well-attended Arts Value Forum, which I reported in my article What is art good for? Understanding the value of our arts and culture

The business of creativity
For a nominal contribution of $15 towards costs, attendees can join the Childers Group, supported by the Cultural Facilities Corporation, renowned cultural economist, Professor David Throsby, and a local panel that includes novelist Nigel Featherstone; theatre maker and musician Chrissie Shaw; contemporary Indigenous artist Krystal Hurst and dance artist and choreographer Alison Plevey. The forum will be moderated by Cultural Facilities Corporation Board member Genevieve Jacobs.

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.’