Monday, December 9, 2019

Better than sport? The tricky business of valuing Australia’s arts and culture

Understanding, assessing and communicating the broad value of arts and culture is a major and ongoing task. There has been an immense amount of work already carried out. The challenge is to understand some of the pitfalls of research and the methods that underpin it. Research and evaluation is invaluable for all organisations but it is particularly important for Government. The experience of researching arts and culture in Government is of much broader relevance, as the arts and culture sector navigates the tricky task of building a comprehensive understanding in each locality of the broader benefits of arts and culture. The latest Arts restructure makes this even more urgent.

I have spent the bulk of my working life – and most of my non-working life, as well – in various parts of the arts and culture sector. Even when I worked in Government I was mostly in the section of it responsible for arts and culture. In that time, across all those areas, it became absolutely clear how critical research, evaluation and measurement is to understanding what the arts and culture sector does and what works best.

Research and evaluation - drawing class outside Mary Quant exhibition, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2019

In July 2016 I listened with great attention to the outline by Professor Geoffrey Crossick of the massive Cultural Value project of the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, summed up in its major report, ‘Understanding the Value of Arts and Culture’. Following this, in July 2017 I was closely involved in organising the Arts Value Forum, a major event in Canberra which looked at valuing arts and culture. This was presented by independent ACT arts advocacy body, the Childers Group, in conjunction with the Cultural Facilities Corporation of the ACT Government.

Research on arts and culture in Government
These discussions about the value of arts and culture made me revisit and reconsider my own involvement in arts and culture research, to look at some of the ways we’ve tried to do it here in Australia in Government and some of the issues it threw up. The impetus to review this research history was made stronger by becoming involved with the University of Canberra an Adjunct in 2014. Most recently my work developing curriculum and lecturing in a new Master of Arts course, Creative and Cultural Futures, at the University has turned my focus back to the crucial role of research.

‘These discussions about the value of arts and culture made me revisit and reconsider my own involvement in arts and culture research, to look at some of the ways we’ve tried to do it here in Australia in Government and some of the issues it threw up.’

In my time in what until this week was called the Arts Division of the Department of Communications and the Arts, the whole issue of gauging the value of the arts arose many times. It was apparent there were major gaps in our understanding and knowledge. It came up as a critical issue during the development of the comprehensive but short-lived ‘Creative Australia’, the National Cultural Policy. It was a fundamental issue almost a decade before when I worked as a Research Manager with the Research, Statistics and Technology Branch of the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts.

Understanding what and why – the central importance of research for arts and culture
This body, less common amongst Government departments nowadays – though the Department of Communications and the Arts, after initially downgrading its research unit, eventually reinstated it – managed research, undertook evaluation and produced reports and publications. It worked strategically across a wide range of departmental areas to ensure research contributed to policy requirements.

This included immediate concerns of the arts area from which I had come, such as assessing the regional impact of arts and culture and the impact of cultural tourism. There had already been valuable work done on the regional impact of arts and culture and that had whetted the appetite to attempt more.

In my final role in the area, I returned to some of these issues, working closely with Dr Brian Kennedy after he left the National Gallery of Australia and was asked to apply his knowledge of Indigenous art and art centres. This involved a strategic review of the Indigenous cultural programs, which only recently had been transferred from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission to the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, to identify opportunities for improvement and redesign.

‘The difficulty in showing the nature and scale of the impact of arts and cultural activity is not something unique to culture. It’s a general problem with anything complex and multi-faceted. Demonstrating that something causes a certain result is much harder than showing a statistical correlation, because in the real world so many factors are at work and it is almost impossible to limit them to isolate their individual effects.’

However, for good measure I also worked on some of the evaluations beyond the arts area, such as that of the Networking the Nation telecommunications program and an evaluation of partnerships between small to medium enterprises and research organisations. This gave me a much broader understanding of the challenges and value of evaluation and research overall and showed me that the arts were not alone.

The difficulty in showing the nature and scale of the impact of arts and cultural activity is not something unique to culture. It’s a general problem with anything complex and multi-faceted. Demonstrating that something causes a certain result is much harder than showing a statistical correlation, because in the real world so many factors are at work and it is almost impossible to limit them to isolate their individual effects. As US sociologist William Bruce Cameron noted as far back as 1963, ‘not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.’

In a short period of time the Research, Statistics and Technology Branch produced a broad range of research on arts and culture. It was possible because it was a dedicated research body in a department that faced a series of policy challenges and needed information and analysis to help clarify the way forward. Some of this broad body of research was used and used well, some went nowhere or not very far. However, all of it was essential and much more could have been made of it. Having a dedicated research unit meant that a very diverse range of research was able to be undertaken, some of it quite extensive and with considerable depth.

Partnerships make everything possible
Most arts and culture organisation – and, increasingly, most government departments – don’t have the ability, expertise or resources to undertake research. This is where partnerships are crucial, whether in actually carrying out the research, or in helping set it up so it can be done in an economical and effective way.

One of the most effective partnerships I am familiar with from personal involvement was a major project, the three year Australian Creative Digital Industries Mapping Study, funded by the Australian Research Council. It involved the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, the National Office for the Information Economy and the Australian Film Commission as industry partners. At the time there was a considerable amount of work underway to research our creative industries and to develop Australian Government policies to support the growth of major, globally competitive Australian industries producing digital content and applications. From the perspective of the Department of Communications, the main aim of the project was to generate research which would feed into policy development.

‘Most arts and culture organisation – and, increasingly, most government departments – don’t have the ability, expertise or resources to undertake research. This is where partnerships are crucial, whether in actually carrying out the research, or in helping set it up so it can be done in an economical and effective way.’

This project showed just how diverse and effective partnership roles can be. My main role, as a ‘Partner Investigator’, in the quaint language of academic research, was ensuring that the project delivered the research outcomes needed for Government policy requirements. However, I was also responsible for coordination of the industry partners and contributed to the research process, developing a schema for a taxonomy of cross sectoral enablers for the project – those factors that produce broader impact across social and economic sectors – and helping map a wide range of types and examples of enablers. Cross-sectoral enablers are factors which have an impact far beyond their own economic sector to foster change and innovation in many other sectors. Information and Communications Technology is a good example.

Underpinning all this, it became clear how such partnerships can easily become more than the sum of their parts. As an Australian Government department we were able to access research data that would have been far more difficult for a research institution to obtain. Because I worked for Government, I was able to negotiate rare access to extensive tax data derived from the Australian Business Register held by the Australian Taxation Office – described by one of the longer-serving members of the research branch as ‘the keys to the kingdom’. The research also laid the groundwork to help establish a larger and more ambitious project, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation at the Queensland University of Technology.

Tracking the pathways – how and how much?
What I was particularly interested in was tracking how impacts occur and the extent to which they occur. What are the pathways by which it happens and how extensive is the effect? My particular focus at the time was the role of digital content and applications as cross-sectoral enablers, however, the question is relevant to any area of arts and culture.

‘What I was particularly interested in was tracking how impacts occur and the extent to which they occur. What are the pathways by which it happens and how extensive is the effect?’ 

The first challenge was to identify the causal path or paths by which these factors produced the broader impacts they were supposedly responsible for. This then made it possible to scope the extent of their role and to measure its impact.

This looked at tracking the casual and developmental pathways from the arts and culture sector more broadly into the wider society and economy. However, it is very similar to the the task of tracking how the impact of artists and small cultural organisations flows through into larger, more mainstream arts and cultural organisations, such as large performing arts bodies. A similar dynamic was apparent in the 1990s with community radio stations, like 2SER-FM in Sydney, with their three-way relationship with their host educational institutions, University of Technology, Sydney and Macquarie University, and the ABC, for which it produced many of the ideas and trained much of the talent.

For the right answers, start with the right questions – the Closing the Gap agenda
Whether it has succeeded or not, in many ways the work in the Indigenous programs of the Australian Government developing more effective indicators has provided insights for the arts and culture sector. High powered focus on developing performance indicators for use across government in the Indigenous programs produced some extremely valuable insights and sharp and well-defined approaches.

The Indigenous cultural programs, where the Indigenous Affairs universe and arts and culture intersected were most exposed to this approach. When I worked in these programs, where it was critical to assess the role of arts and culture in contributing to the whole of government Closing the Gap agenda, some valuable work was done, particularly looking at the impact of the effects on well-being of languages maintenance.

‘Whether it has succeeded or not, in many ways the work in the Indigenous programs of the Australian Government developing more effective indicators has provided insights for the arts and culture sector. High powered focus on developing performance indicators for use across government in the Indigenous programs produced some extremely valuable insights and sharp and well-defined approaches.’

The arts and culture area of the Australian Government produced some invaluable and ground-breaking work on this issue as part of a modest research capability that was subsequently lost until the work developing the National Cultural policy was underway. As a result many of the issues which later became acute during the development of the National Cultural Policy were already apparent years before.

In many ways, the opportunity was missed at the time because there wasn’t a strategic commitment to tackle the issue. It wasn’t until it came to a head during the development of the National Cultural Policy, when it was apparent how huge were the holes in the evidence, that serious progress started to be made. The extent to which that work continues in the current Government arts environment is hard to judge.

Heartening development
However, a heartening development was that in a media release in March 2017, then Arts Minister Fifield announced that the remit of the Department’s economic and statistical research unit had been broadened to encompass the Arts sector as well as Communications, with a rebranding as the Bureau of Communications and Arts Research. According to the Fifield release, these changes paved the way for the Department of Communications and the Arts to focus on the priority work of connecting the Arts sector to the broader innovation agenda. At the time, the Fifield media release noted that further details would be announced in coming weeks regarding the work program and consultation process.

‘A heartening development was that…the Department’s economic and statistical research unit had been broadened to encompass the Arts sector as well as Communications, [paving] the way for the Department of Communications and the Arts to focus on the priority work of connecting the Arts sector to the broader innovation agenda. Unfortunately…[this] seems to have been delayed, if not gone missing in action.’

Unfortunately, time seemed to slip well past ‘coming weeks’ and the only research related to arts and culture that seems to have emerged at the time was on private sector support for the arts. ‘Private sector support for the arts in Australia’, released in June 2017 was a background statistical paper which highlighted the essential role philanthropy and corporate sponsorship play in the sustainability of Australia’s creative sector. While the report is valuable – and it is the one highlighted on the Department website – the ‘priority work of connecting the Arts sector to the broader innovation agenda’ seems to have been delayed, if not gone missing in action.

Subsequently, however, valuable work was undertaken on a range of important topics. The most recent research paper ‘Creative skills for the future economy’, released in January 2019 – though, it’s worth noting that this is now almost a year ago – analyses the skills and qualifications of people working in creative fields and how these may be used in the future. ‘Cultural and creative activity in Australia 2008-09 to 2016-17’, published in October 2018 presents an analysis showing cultural and creative activity contributed $111.7 billion to Australia’s economy in 2016-17. Cultural and creative activity in the report relates to the arts, media, heritage, design, fashion and information technology.

Maintaining a place on the broader policy agenda
The value of the policy breadth of the research unit is clearly shown in a report which addresses many of the topics central to the Communications side of the Department, ‘Australian Government response to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts report: Inquiry into broadcasting, online content and live production to rural and regional Australia’, published in March 2018. While the report focuses on communications matters, at the same time it locates issues crucial to the broader role of arts and culture within this wider policy context.

This is extremely important because ensuring that arts and culture remains on broader Government (and society) agendas is integrally linked to both acknowledgement and further support of the extensive impact of arts and culture. Notably, one of the features of the broad-ranging work across Government during the development of the National Cultural Policy was that strategic policy initiatives concerned with issues far beyond arts and culture, such as the parallel 2012 Convergence Review, coincidentally being undertaken by the then Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, were meant to inform that Policy. In the end, the degree to which they did is debatable, but the intent was both promising and exciting.

‘Ensuring that arts and culture remains on broader Government (and society) agendas is integrally linked to both acknowledgement and further support of the extensive impact of arts and culture.’

With the new Arts Minister, Paul Fletcher, now at the helm, it will be interesting to see what direction this takes during the life of the Morrison Government.Will the promise of the ‘priority work of connecting the Arts sector to the broader innovation agenda’ finally be realised? Unfortunately, post Turnbull, this seems to be less likely because I don't get a sense that innovation is a priority for Morrison - or even that he understands it.

Arts restructure
This is likely to be complicated by the news that the Arts Division of the Department of Communications and the Arts has been caught up in the drastic restructure of the public service announced by the Prime Minister last week. It seems Arts will move (with the rest of Communications) to the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development to form the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications. There may be sense in joining Infrastructure with Communications – because after all, Communications is all about infrastructure. However, it’s also worryingly all about content. To see the potential impact of this restructure, watch as environment policy is subsumed by agriculture, as the Department of the Environment joins the Department of Agriculture. Time will tell whether this is a cost-cutting exercise, suggested in Morrison’s comment that the public service will have to operate more efficiently. Public service restructures are as inevitable as bushfires – but maybe more inevitable in an era of global warming. Time will also tell what good – and bad – will come from this. Of concern is the wider context of the culture wars, as suggested in an article about the restructure by Laura Tingle. All in all, for the arts and culture sector, as the Americans wisely say, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

Breadth of responsibility
The restructure raises a lot of issues. It's easy to overlook the breadth of responsibility for arts and cultural policy and programs that sits in the Arts Division of the Australian Government or is influenced by it – the Australia Council is only part of the picture. There is the whole gamut of heritage, the national cultural institutions, film, Indigenous cultural and language programs, intellectual property and lending rights – it's a long list.

‘[Arts] was like a comet, travelling around the heavens and suddenly appearing, to terrify those below, before disappearing and returning centuries later in the same place, when everyone had forgotten what it all meant.’

I doubt there will be many changes for Arts from this, at least initially – if nothing else, it's too small. As Finance used to say, something as small as arts funding is just a rounding error – hardly worth cutting in the scheme of things. In an era where further cost-cutting is likely, perhaps being small is good. Wherever Arts ends up there are new synergies with the larger department at the time and it still continues with business as usual – in these big departments, discrete areas like Arts usually stay as silos. While there are always claims that these restructures are designed to break down silos, the reality is pigs might fly.

In a world closer to perfect this move to Infrastructure might even be seen as a good thing, because arts and culture is all about strengthening social infrastructure. Unfortunately this move will be all about physical infrastructure – as they say, ‘to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail’.  While there were useful synergies between Arts and Communications, their respective focuses were very different. With the move to Infrastructure this could be more of an issue of David and Goliath. It could be like the way arts in local government was constantly being over-shadowed by ‘roads, rates and rubbish’, that are simpler to understand and easier to explain.

‘With every move Arts makes, bits fall off, like some spacecraft crash landing on an alien planet. Once the Arts Division was more significant – there were two divisions, one Arts and one Culture – and a regional Indigenous network – before a series of cuts under both major parties thinned it out.’

The other question is what will this mean for Ministerial responsibilities? It seems that there will be no change to the roles of Ministers – and as Fletcher himself has pointed out, as he is still in Cabinet, Arts retains a presence in top level Government decision-making. That’s important, depending on what role he plays in practice in relation to Arts issues. I've seen where several different areas – arts and sport, for example – have been in the same department with different ministers. It's not that uncommon. That’s not the problem. It's the long term implications that worry me – reinforcing a trend with arts and culture that's been happening for a while.

With every move Arts makes, bits fall off, like some spacecraft crash landing on an alien planet. Once the Arts Division was more significant – there were two divisions, one Arts and one Culture – and a regional Indigenous network – before a series of cuts under both major parties thinned it out. While Creative Australia – only the second National Cultural Policy Australia has ever had – was being developed, Arts moved through five departments – from Communications to Environment to Prime Minister and Cabinet to Regional and Local Government to Attorney-Generals – and then finally, after all that, back to Communications. It was like a comet, travelling around the heavens and suddenly appearing, to terrify those below, before disappearing and returning centuries later in the same place, when everyone had forgotten what it all meant.

Economic and social impacts – integral to everyday life and its activities 
Arts, culture and creativity are important for all sorts of reasons but one of the reasons is the broader impacts they have. While I agree with some commentators that the arts and culture sector shouldn't fall into opportunist justification of its importance in terms of economic benefits, the reality is that arts and culture do have economic benefits. While the far-reaching impact of arts and culture cannot be reduced simply to economic arguments, at the same time, we cannot escape the reality that arts and culture is a crucial part of the economy, with an economic impact and an economic value.

However, it’s more complicated than that – both their economic significance in terms of economic development and innovation and social importance in terms of education, community resilience, social and community identity, social inclusion, liveable cities and health and wellbeing spring from the reality that arts, culture and creativity are integral to everyday life and the essential activities that make it up. 

‘The reality is that arts and culture do have economic benefits….both their economic significance in terms of economic development and innovation and social importance in terms of education, community resilience, social and community identity, social inclusion, liveable cities and health and wellbeing spring from the reality that arts, culture and creativity are integral to everyday life and the essential activities that make it up.’ 

When this is recognised within Government, much can be achieved. My worry is that in this restructure, important concepts like ‘arts’, not to mention something far broader, ‘culture’ (and incidentally, ‘innovation’) aren't being named anymore and as their profile drops and they are overshadowed by items that many politicians tend to easily grasp, like roads, ports and airports, the opportunity to link them to wider agendas is reduced.

Instrumental and intrinsic
I have personally always had a strongly instrumental view of arts and culture and been a strong advocate of the broader social and economic impacts of arts and cultural activity. I’ve seen plenty of examples where involvement in arts and cultural activity has produced major changes in the outlook, behaviour and well-being of individuals and communities.

As a result I found the approach of Simon Crean, when he was Minister for the Arts tasked with developing the long-awaited National Cultural Policy, quite compatible. Since the understanding both he and I had of arts and culture had emerged from the Art and Working Life Program of the ACTU and its state Trades and Labor Councils in the decade from 1980 to 1990, when he was President of the ACTU and I was its Arts Officer, this was not surprising.

‘As much as I have an affinity for instrumental views of arts and culture, the problem is that if you reduce it only to the broader outcomes – even if only as a tactical way of persuading a broad constituency of its worth – is there anything left at the heart?’

Still, despite this, as much as I have an affinity for instrumental views of arts and culture, the problem is that if you reduce it only to the broader outcomes – even if only as a tactical way of persuading a broad constituency of its worth – is there anything left at the heart?

It’s a complex question because you could reasonably ask if anything has intrinsic value – health or wealth or most other things. For example is health actually good in itself or is it only good for its instrumental value because it improves overall happiness? An instrumental view can have merit with all social phenomenon, especially in seeing how it plays out on the larger landscape and produces impacts that are not immediately apparent. Often it’s not until further investigation that we can see the complex causal pathways involved and assess the scope of the impacts.

Understanding broad value and the link to broad values This is where evidence for value of arts and culture need to become part of wider arguments against the limiting and narrow neo-liberal agenda – what was previously known as ‘economic rationalism’. The steady erosion across the ‘Western’ world of so much that has traditionally been seen as part of the role of government in the area of arts and culture is not an isolated incident.

If the arts and culture sector is to win wide acceptance of the value of arts and culture, it needs a broad and long-term campaign to change hearts and minds. For that it needs evidence. However, it also needs to use the finely-tuned and broad-ranging language of art and culture itself to convey the emotional messages that the evidence underpins.

It is part of the conscious and deliberate dismantling of the welfare state and the mixed economy that has been happening over the last few decades. There have been different positions and degrees of agreement along the way, but the overall direction seems to have become an orthodoxy. This path is not looking so certain now, with the Brexit vote and the rise of opposition from all political directions here and in the US suggesting that the ambitious neo-liberal agenda is shakier than it looks. However, it is still an ambitious project and it is inevitably having a debilitating impact on arts and culture as well.

Solid evidence of the broad-ranging and positive value of arts and culture and the essential and central role it plays in our society is crucial to respond to this narrow and limiting agenda. If the arts and culture sector is to win wide acceptance of the value of arts and culture, it needs a broad and long-term campaign to change hearts and minds. For that it needs evidence. However, it also needs to use the finely-tuned and broad-ranging language of art and culture itself to convey the emotional messages that the evidence underpins.

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

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 to apply what already exists – and to take it further’, What is art good for? Understanding the value of our arts and culture.

Creativity and culture in change: Change in creativity and culture
‘A vast transformation of contemporary culture not seen since the breakdown of traditional arts and crafts in the industrial revolution is under way due to the impact of the digital and online environment. Artists, culture managers and cultural specialists today are confronted with radically different challenges and opportunities to those they faced in the 20th Century. There are a number of strategic forces which we need to take account of in career planning and in working in or running cultural organisations’, Presentation at ‘Creative and Cultural Futures: Leadership and Change’ – a symposium exploring the critical issues driving change in the creative and cultural sector, University of Canberra, October 2018, Creativity and culture in change: Change in creativity and culture.

See also – indefinite articles in a definite world
‘If you are losing track of the articles I have published to my 'indefinite article' blog over the last few years, this is a summary of all 133 articles up until mid July 2017, broken down into categories for easy access. They range from the national cultural landscape to popular culture, from artists and arts organisations to cultural institutions, cultural policy and arts funding, creative industries, First Nations culture, cultural diversity, cities and regions, Australia society, government, Canberra and international issues – the whole range of contemporary Australian arts and culture’, See also – indefinite articles in a definite world.

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’, Crossing boundaries – the unlimited landscape of creativity.

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.

Making ends meet – the brittle new world of arts funding
‘Everyone is still recovering from the shock of the announcement by the Australia Council back in May this year of which organisations had been successful in obtaining four year operating funding – and which had not. It’s not so much directly due to the transfer of funds from the Australia Council but more a matter of new applicants applying in a competitive funding round, with an expanding sector, yet limited funds and a shrinking arts budget. Planning how to operate in the arts landscape of the future is something everyone needs to do. Having a Plan B and Plan C will be critical’, Making ends meet – the brittle new world of arts funding.

Quadruple whammy – the long-running factors that together threaten our cultural future
‘The real danger for Australia’s arts and culture is not funding cuts but steady, unending neglect. The decline of Government arts and culture support can be attributed to four long-running factors. This I call a quadruple whammy, caused by lack of indexation, the cumulative effect of ‘efficiency dividends’, the trend towards project funding rather than operational funding and falling behind as the population and economy expands’, Quadruple whammy – the long-running factors that together threaten our cultural future.

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.

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.

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.

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.

1 comment:

  1. Thankyou Stephen. It is inspiring to encounter such a thoughtful and hopeful reading in an otherwise distressing landscape.

    ReplyDelete