Monday, September 28, 2020

Music makes the world go round – the bright promise of our export future

After ABBA, in an unexpected break from its traditional way of building national wealth from natural resources, Sweden managed to discover a new source of income. It was not as you would expect coal or oil. Rather than oil what it had discovered was song royalties, part of a fundamental change in the nature of modern economies which transformed them from relying solely on natural resources, transport and manufacturing to make creative content a new form of resource mining. Examples like theirs point to potentially major opportunities for the Australian music industry to become a net exporter of music.

Many years ago, in a universe far, far away – actually the arts and culture division of the Australian Government – I was responsible for a time for literature and contemporary music policy and programs. A songwriter who worked in the area with me, who knew a thing or two about the economics of the music industry, pointed out to me that after ABBA, Sweden had managed to discover a new source of income, which was not as you would expect coal or oil.

Building a Scandinavian economy of the future - renewal energy and creative content together pack a powerful economic punch.

Rather than oil what it had discovered was song royalties. From then on, I was intrigued. My songwriter colleague at the time had drawn some of his insights from a forum organised by the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA), the national organisation representing copyright holders in creative content in music and song.

‘APRA has been around since 1926 and today represents the rights of 103,000 songwriters, composers and publishers across Australia and New Zealand. At the heart of what APRA does is collect money for the use of its members’ intellectual property – their songs.’

 This is why a little-publicised recent speech by Jenny Morris, noted Australian musician and song-writer and current Chair of APRA, is so important and timely. She made her hard-hitting address at the National Press Club in Canberra in August this year. Incidentally she was diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia five years ago and Sophie Payten, better known as Gordi, fresh from a concert at the Sydney Opera House, assisted in delivering her address.

As a practicing song-writer herself, Gordi helped amplify and reinforce many of the comments in the address. When I heard about the address, I became extremely interested because ever since that brief stint in the contemporary music policy area during my time in the Australian Government, I have been fascinated by the way the Swedes had discovered a new version of oil in the words and music of song. In this article I draw heavily on the incisive words Jenny Morris spoke, adding my own observations in places.

APRA has been around since 1926 and today represents the rights of 103,000 songwriters, composers and publishers across Australia and New Zealand. At the heart of what APRA does is the collection of money for the use of its members’ intellectual property – their songs. Morris pointed out that ‘Songs have great emotional and cultural significance, connecting people and communities and expressing their memories and understanding. Often a performance of a powerful song can change lives, taking the craft of song-writing and fusing it with the passion of artistic expression.’ Payment is recognition of the importance of that unique creation.

The promise of the copyright industries 

Arts and cultural funding, as fragile as it is, has an important role to play in supporting Australia’s cultural life and arts and cultural production. However, I have long been much more interested in the so-called copyright industries, a different world to that of grant funding. Given the changing role of Government in recent years, anything that balances the dependence of arts and cultural organisations on an unreliable and uneasy source of support will help broaden their base and build resilience. Having worked for decades in the world of Government grant funding – both applying for funding and managing funding programs – I always considered that the space APRA and similar organisations occupy would be a productive and illuminating sphere in which to work. 

‘Young artists had been leading a new international wave, creating distinctly local sounds with global appeal and, in parallel there has been a big surge of First Nations artists getting applause from global markets.’

Morris began her talk by pointing out that the National Press Club is only one of the 4,000 venues across Australia that present live music. In that iconic venue, together the two musical colleagues talked about the power of song. As they commented producing a song is a work of great value to them both personally, but more importantly, to their audience, their community, their culture – and to the economy. They pointed out that a good song creates jobs – and many of them. Tens of thousands of Australians earn a living from music. As Morris noted, a good song also builds Australia’s intellectual property assets, generating big incomes – including export earnings.

Morris went on to stress that young artists had been leading a new international wave, creating distinctly local sounds with global appeal and, in parallel there has been a big surge of First Nations artists getting applause from global markets. Last year the music export office, Sounds Australia, had a strong presence alongside Australia’s export powerhouses, food and wine, at one of the world’s biggest marketplaces, South by South-West (SXSW) in the US. Australian acts are regularly booked for career-defining festivals and they’re often on influential American television shows.

‘Publicly adored but rarely supported’

This has been partly because of but mainly despite a lack of support for music by Governments through suitable policy and programs. Morris pointed out that ‘Australian music has largely been absent in our cultural policy. Literature funding started way back in 1908, and then the Australia Council and the old Film Commission were founded in the 70s.

‘Australian music has had a historic relationship with government where it is publicly adored but rarely supported, often seen as a nuisance, and regularly shut down.’

But, she went on, it wasn’t until the 80s that a government committee recommended that national arts funding body, the Australia Council, should help develop contemporary music.’ It recognised that ‘rock music is Australia's most popular performance art, is the country's largest cultural industry (larger than all the others put together) and is capable of producing high export earnings.’  Yet, as she went on to point out, ‘Australian music has had a historic relationship with government where it is publicly adored but rarely supported, often seen as a nuisance, and regularly shut down.’

I well remember those debates about the relative neglect of contemporary and popular music by the Australia Council, as I was working as ACTU Arts Officer during that period and had a strong interest in the relationship between music and working life. Ironically Simon Crean, later to become the Arts Minister who oversaw the development and launch of the ‘Creative Australia’ policy in 2013 – on which I worked as Director of the National Cultural Policy Taskforce – was my boss at the time, as President of the ACTU.

The power of song

Jenny Morris asked ‘If music is a major commercial activity trading in the power of song...why are governments struggling with policy?’ She suggested this is because music and songwriting demands the attention of so many parts of government and so many portfolios at both federal and state level. While Ministers for the Arts are important, there are also Trade Ministers responsible for digital exports and tourism, Ministers of Foreign Affairs responsible for cultural diplomacy and touring, Small Business Ministers, because every songwriter, musician and music business is a small business, State planning agencies, with responsibility for laws that can either support or kill live music venues, and Education, Training and Skills Ministers, given the importance – and limitations – of the music syllabus, resourcing and music activity in schools. As much as Government talks up a whole-of government or joined-up government approach, and as critical it is to effective government, it is much easier to talk about than to put into practice.

‘While Government has grappled with how to support the music industry for decades – and introduced some valuable initiatives along the way – it has found it very difficult to establish the sort of consistent, comprehensive, long-term framework of support needed for such a large and crucial industry sector.’

While Government has grappled with how to support the music industry for decades – and introduced some valuable initiatives along the way – it has found it very difficult to establish the sort of consistent, comprehensive, long-term framework of support needed for such a large and crucial industry sector. Underneath it all has been a nagging concern about whether government should be supporting this sort of thing at all. Labor seems to encompass a range of views, but has generally been more enthusiastic, partly because of the personal interest of Shadow Arts Minister, Tony Burke.

The Coalition seems far less convinced. Since it is in government it is actually in a position to start to make more happen – despite the immediate challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately in its response to the pandemic, it has not demonstrated that it sees the creative sector generally, let alone the music and songwriting component of it, as a serious industry with its own distinct business models and practices that requires carefully designed forms of support. Both the JobKeeper and JobSeeker programs have largely failed those working in the creative sector. It doesn’t help to make me feel positive about likely support in the future, once we move past the response to COVID-19 – but perhaps I’m being unduly pessimistic. I'm not aware what the views of current Arts Minister Fletcher on this are.

As became clear during the development of the Gillard Government’s short-lived National Cultural Policy, ‘Creative Australia’, direct funding to artists and cultural organisations is only a small component of what Government does. Government can actually do quite a lot without spending large sums of money. It plays critical roles in setting standards and establishing frameworks and infrastructure in crucial areas like intellectual property, export and trade. Even if governments agreed to spend a certain amount of money a year supporting the music sector, let alone the creative sector generally, there is still the question of what would be the best way for it to allocate it – what can government at different levels do most effectively, what would be the best bang for the buck? The challenges posed by Jenny Morris in her address offer some immediate points of engagement by Government with all these questions.

Music on the larger stage

Jenny Morris pointed out that a significant body of research ‘points to the way in which music education improves students’ grades across all subjects. Music is often the subject that entices school attendance, especially in low socio-economic and remote areas.’ In her address she noted that ‘it is well documented that First Nations arts and cultural participation can support the development of strong and resilient First Nations children and improve school attendance and engagement, as well as higher levels of educational attainment.’

Arts and culture as a whole show promise in helping address central social challenges Australia faces. Case studies and anecdotal evidence, coupled with the experience of many years of the Indigenous culture programs managed by the Australian Government, was that involvement in arts and cultural activity often has powerful flow on social and economic effects for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. By building self-esteem and generating a sense of achievement, by developing a stronger sense of community, by increasing skills and capabilities through involvement in engaging activities relevant to modern jobs and thereby increasing employability, and by helping to generate income streams, however small, cultural activity can have profound long-term effects. It’s no exaggeration to say in many cases it changes lives.

Recognising this, in 2008 the Australian and State and Territory governments developed a joint strategy to support music with First Nations communities and artists. The Indigenous Contemporary Music Action Plan was a multi-layered strategy to provide support across many aspects of Indigenous music, with the aim of harnessing the broader positive social and economic impacts of music. In the introduction to the Action Plan, it was noted that ‘Music is essentially about teamwork, mutual respect and discipline and all these qualities have a broader relevance. Making music can grow the confidence and skills of young people and can potentially be an important source of income.’

‘By building self-esteem and generating a sense of achievement, by developing a stronger sense of community, by increasing skills and capabilities through involvement in engaging activities relevant to modern jobs and thereby increasing employability, and by helping to generate income streams, however small, cultural activity can have profound long-term effects.’

The comments by Jenny Morris about the discovery by the Swedes of the parallel industry of song, alongside their long-established and much larger oil industry, resonated with me. When I worked in the Indigenous cultural programs, it became clear to me that in attempting to address the major issue of Indigenous disadvantage, one of the most important economic resources possessed by Indigenous communities is their culture. Creative firms are already developing which draw on that cultural content, particularly in the area of design and fashion. Through the intellectual property that translates it into a form that can generate income in a contemporary economy, that culture can be pivotal to jobs and to income. It may not be mining but they mine a far richer seam – authentic and rich content that has already been recognised internationally for its high value, just like our iron and coal.

It is astounding just how much music in one shape or another touches almost everyone. When most Australians think about their involvement in arts and culture, it’s highly likely that music is the form they are most connected with – even though they may not consciously see it as involvement in arts and culture at all. You can’t get away from it. Of course, like so many others, in my younger days I wrote songs and played in a garage band. It was fun, it was informative and it was very character-forming. Then decades later I worked in Government policy and programs in the contemporary music area. My brother had a long and productive career as a music teacher. He also taught mathematics, a very valuable subject, but music came first for him and for so many of his students. This education encouraged and supported young talent like G-Flip, to name just one of numerous students who went on to start the process of forging national and international music careers – until derailed, hopefully temporarily, by the unexpected impact of the global pandemic.

The choke points for music creation and distribution

There are three factors identified by the music industry that are limiting the sustainability of the industry and stunting its growth as a major local presence and cultural export. The first is serious limitations in the music curriculum in schools, which is hampering opportunities to identify and foster young talent. The second is restrictive planning controls at the level of local and state government closing down live music venues – the workplaces, or in Paul Kelly’s words, the universities, of the music industry. Morris pointed out that in NSW alone, there are seven different agencies that regulate noise – or as she likes to call it, ‘sound’.

The third factor is limitations created by international frameworks that govern our trading relations. Morris noted ‘While most of our larger trading partners celebrate and support their creative industries with healthy local content quotas and investment, ours have been traded away, and capped [through restrictive international trade agreements].’ Incidentally, most recently the current Australian government has used the opportunity provided by the pandemic to realise its long term ambition to suspend local content quotas – something likely to destroy thousands of small innovative Australian businesses in the screen production sector for the permanent benefit of major multinational content producers.

Long terms opportunities confronting mid-term realities

Morris noted that composition and songwriting generate two complementary forms of capital – ‘cultural capital’, produced by creative production that expresses an Australian voice, and ‘economic capital’ in the form of global income, due to the fact that recordings and performances continue to generate income for years after they first appear.

She went on to point out that currently there are 400 million paid music streaming subscribers worldwide – and over the next decade, this will triple. Yet at the same time, there’s only a handful of net exporters of music. The US and UK are the most obvious ones, but they are following closely by Sweden, which she noted has more US Billboard number ones than any European country besides the UK. Moreover, its success isn’t tied to any specific style, genre, movement or trend. This reflects the fact that Sweden is one of the most active countries for live music, home to many internationally renowned DJs, and crucially, has a comprehensive music education framework that includes songwriting. As Morris noted, ‘They celebrate music like we celebrate swimming.’ It’s no accident that Spotify was established in Sweden.

‘Despite the opportunities, Australian music is facing the biggest crisis it has ever seen. Since the March shutdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a conservative estimate puts the live music loss at half a billion dollars.’

Even with the devastation of COVID-19, Morris pointed out that a Goldman Sachs report into the international music market released in May estimates global industry revenue will soar to around US$140 billion by 2030. According to APRA, Australian artists, publishers and creators have the potential to earn, at least, a 5% market share of this if a suitable framework is put in place. Yet, despite the opportunities, Australian music is facing the biggest crisis it has ever seen. Since the March shutdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a conservative estimate puts the live music loss at half a billion dollars.

Message in a bottle

On 10 June, the Australian music industry sent out an SOS – an open letter with over 1,000 signatures. It included well-known Australia artists like Jimmy Barnes, Archie Roach, John Farnham, Thelma Plum, Nick Cave, Icehouse, Kate Miller-Heidke, Jessica Mauboy, Gotye, Jack River and Savage Garden, along with venues, festivals, managers, crew, agents, promoters, publicists, labels and publishers. The letter noted that ‘Australian music is a proud national asset that entertains, comforts, and uplifts our communities...It helps to define who we are as a nation, is a central pillar of our health and well-being and is a key driver of learning in schools. Our artists and industry are always there to come to the aid of our nation during a crisis. Now it is time for the nation to come to our aid.’

‘Musicians comprise the original gig economy but COVID-19 has made clear the down side of the gig economy – it is unsustainable.’

Morris made the point that despite the fact that artists are just small businesses which rely on the money they earn from performing live and the licences they collect from businesses which use their music, they are often the first to put up their hands in a crisis, volunteering in concerts and donating things like time, recorded music, or even money. Yet, Morris pointed out, ‘while artists bring joy and excitement to so many, they often struggle to support themselves and their families because so many musicians fall through the cracks because they’re not in conventional employment – they’re outside the 9-5 economy.’ Musicians comprise the original gig economy but COVID-19 has made clear the down side of the gig economy – it is unsustainable.

Massive cultural and economic benefit

As Morris pointed out, other countries, like South Korea and Canada, have been realising the massive cultural and economic benefit of investing in music, while at the same time building national pride around their song-writing activity. Markets like Latin America are growing faster than anywhere else in the world and countries in Asia are maturing quickly. With its cultural diversity Australia is in a perfect position to harness the rapidly emerging opportunities of the global music market. Just as the Federal and State governments have invested heavily in the Australian screen industry, and Australia has globally recognised food and wine industries, the contemporary Australian music industry is poised to achieve its potential, even with the impact of COVID-19.

‘Just as the federal and state governments have invested heavily in the Australian screen industry, and Australia has globally recognised food and wine industries, the contemporary Australian music industry is poised to achieve its potential, even with the impact of COVID-19.’

The music industry is calling for a clear vision to make Australia a net exporter of music. It recognises that this is a long term vision but needs to start early, especially as we clear the wreckage of COVID-19. Achieving it depends upon four crucial components outlined in Morris’ address, which I will list here in her own words.

1. A federal, state and local, whole of government policy and investment commitment to Australia as a net exporter of music.

2. A commitment to provide equity of access to music in schools nationally and songwriting as part of the national curriculum.

3. To protect and promote the cultural infrastructure of live music venues

4. To incentivise and ensure the production and performance of local music content across all media platforms.

There are opportunities aplenty – and these will expand as the COVID-19 pandemic becomes more of a lesson in being prepared, rather than a reality of adjusting to lack of preparedness. To realise the opportunities and take Australian music into a brave new century of attention will require many players – artists, music organisations, industry associations and governments. If they can’t all come together to make it happen, we will see many more bleak decades characterised by Australian voices being drowned out by imported global generica while Australian musicians struggle to make a living – and that’s nowhere near good enough.

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.

The short answer #2: Broken broadband unbalances the books  
‘Back in 2013, when the first of the latest string of Coalition Governments we have had was elected, there seemed to be a strong view within the Coalition that broadband was a luxury, mainly useful for entertainment. Yet those of us familiar with the work of Australian post-production companies, doing the finishing work on major US films during the day while the US industry slept, and sending it by broadband overnight for work to resume in the Northern hemisphere the next day, knew it was a key part of Australia’s productive infrastructure. Then the COVID-19 pandemic confirmed it. Now the Government has acknowledged that there are major deficiencies with the National Broadband Network but is it too late to save it and make it the national asset we need and deserve?’ The short answer #2: Broken broadband unbalances the books
 
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
 
Now for the bad news and the good news – creative sector relief package finally announced 
‘For the creative sector it’s a case of both good news and bad news in a world that has been very much about bad news. With the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shutdown of most of the creative sector, the announcement of massive reductions to Government support for humanities courses in universities, job losses at our major cultural institutions and continuing loss of ABC services, there has not been a lot to smile about’, Now for the bad news and the good news – creative sector relief package finally announced.
 
Shutting down Australian creativity and culture – timeline of a trainwreck
‘In its response to the pandemic the current Government came a long way in terms of its narrow economic views about minimising the role of Government. However the longer history of neglect of the creative sector shows how severe the Government's economic limitations are and how its grasp of the economy (without even mentioning the social sphere) is too narrow and out of date. It has missed a whole sector of the economy that was large, fast growing and included many of the jobs of the future. It's most recent actions have merely compounded a seven year history of neglect and damage,’ Shutting down Australian creativity and culture – timeline of a trainwreck.

Caught in the past – economic blindness overlooks the creative sector
‘The last few months have been a wild ride. First the national bushfires and now global pandemic. In February people were being encouraged to visit fire-ravaged regional centres to help boost local economies. By March they were being urged to stay home to help reduce the spread of pestilence. I’m quietly seething at governments which knew this was coming, but just didn’t have a fixed date, and thought they could make savings by pretending it wasn’t coming. Now the Australian creative sector has largely been infected as well, but without the ventilators required to keep it alive,’ Caught in the past – economic blindness overlooks the creative sector.

Out of the ashes – art and bushfires
‘While the current bushfires raging across much of Australia are unprecedented in their scale and severity, they are a reminder of how people have responded after previous fires, rebuilding communities and lives in the affected areas. They have also focused attention on the impact of the fires on creative practices and business and on how those in the arts and culture sector can use their skills to contribute to bushfire recovery into the future’, Out of the ashes – art and bushfires.

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 mechanisms and motivations 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.’, Better than sport? The tricky business of valuing Australia’s arts and culture.

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.

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.

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.

 

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