Thursday, January 4, 2024

Revhead heaven revisited – the possible promise where cars and culture overlap

Here in Canberra the massive convoy called Summernats has just rolled into town for another year. As usual it has incited the locals in a loud mix of love and hate – almost as loud as the car races themselves. Yet, like it or loathe it, cars are at the heart of everyday Australian life. Even if they don’t interest you all that much, or even if you mainly use public transport, you probably also use a car regularly. The Sunday drive, the regional road tour, the daily commute are all as Australian as burnt toast and peeling sunburn. The annual Summernats road extravaganza in Australia’s national capital celebrates this mobile culture. With some imagination, it could be even more – celebrating a central, while challenging, part of contemporary Australian popular culture.

This year the Summernats crowd were even outrageously blamed by a Canberra Times reader for defacing a string of memorials on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin over the new year – in the usual fashion of random comments that no-one cares about, normally only the Greens would get the blame.

A much younger author in the 1950s in front of a car of the era - 'cars have always been at the heart of everyday Australian life. The Sunday drive, the regional road tour, the daily commute are all as Australian as burnt toast and peeling sunburn.'

Summernats brings a mixed bag to the national capital – a large increase in atmospheric polution, a huge jump in stylish haircuts and sleek vehicles and, since last year, a parallel festival of popular culture in hipster heaven Braddon, which this year has been expanded to the whole three days of the main event. There has always been a dark side to Summernats, more so the further back you go, but even last year, but organisers seem to have been actively trying to make the event broader and more inclusive.

I wrote an article about it two years ago and thought it might be a good time to revisit it. Read it in between rain showers and thunderstorms and unleash your inner revhead.

Revhead heaven – travelling together into the mobile future
‘Cars are at the heart of everyday Australian life. Even if they don’t interest you all that much, or even if you mainly use public transport, you probably also use a car regularly. The Sunday drive, the regional road tour, the daily commute are all as Australian as burnt toast and peeling sunburn. The annual Summernats road extravaganza in Australia’s national capital celebrates this mobile culture. With some imagination, it could be even more – celebrating a central, while challenging, part of contemporary Australian popular culture’, Revhead heaven – travelling together into the mobile future.

See also

Updates on creativity and culture an email away
‘After many decades working across the Australian cultural sector, I have been regularly posting to my suite of blogs about creativity and culture, ever since I first set them up over 10 years ago. You can follow any of the blogs through email updates, which are sent from time to time. If you don’t already follow my blogs and you want to take advantage of this service, you can simply add your email address to the blog page, and then confirm that you want to receive updates when you receive the follow up email. If you want to make sure you don’t miss any of my updates, simply select the blogs you are interested in and set up the update by adding your email’, Updates on creativity and culture an email away

‘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.

An everyday life worth living – indefinite articles for a clean, clever and creative future
‘My blog “indefinite article” is irreverent writing 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. Over the last ten years I have published 166 articles about creativity and culture on the blog. This is a list of all the articles I have published there, broken down into categories, with a brief summary of each article. They range from the national cultural landscape to popular culture, from artists and arts organisations to cultural institutions, cultural policy and arts funding, the cultural economy and creative industries, First Nations culture, cultural diversity, cities and regions, Australia society, government, Canberra and international issues – the whole range of contemporary Australian creativity and culture’, An everyday life worth living – indefinite articles for a clean, clever and creative future

Cool little capital - the ambition to make Canberra Australia's creative city
‘Arts policy in the ACT has been more miss than hit, even though intentions have been good and there have been some worthwhile achievements. Unfortunately often the achievements don’t seem to have sprung from an overall vision of a consolidated strategic policy, which has meant that their full value hasn’t been harnessed. There has been a history of consultation stalling and not producing fruitful results. However, the ambition is currently there and building on some of the previous work, there may finally be a policy that focuses support for the arts and links it to the broader landscape of culture and creativity, if only all the interlinked components can be recognised and implemented’, Cool little capital – the ambition to make Canberra Australia's creative city.

Driveway dawn services – reclaiming remembrance
‘I usually pass Anzac Day quietly, as befits remembrance. I try to avoid the flag waving and the speeches and the politicians – difficult as that is during an election. However, the day touches on so many issues that affect the future of Australia, that it always makes me think about where we have come from and where we are going. Lest we forget – or be doomed to repeat’, Driveway dawn services – reclaiming remembrance

Time to revive with renewed national cultural policy
‘After a hiatus of ten long years Australia finally has a new national cultural policy that maps out what the current Albanese Government plans to do in support of Australian culture and creativity. The previous policy, announced by the Gillard Labor Government in 2013, was a very good policy, even though it had its gaps, but its impact was cut short by what turned out to be a series of Governments that managed to steadily become worse the longer they were in office. At first glance the new policy appears to be an arts policy, rather than a broader cultural policy, but on closer scrutiny it is connected to far wider initiatives, including some that have never been included in a cultural policy before. Part of a series of three articles that consider different aspects of the cultural policy, this first one looks at the policy generally and outlines some of the major components it will deliver. The second article is about the connection between the policy and broader social and economic features, such as the cultural economy and First Nations economic development. The third article looks at the boost to the national collecting institutions which collect and safeguard Australia's cultural heritage’, Time to revive with renewed national cultural policy.
 
The whole picture – an arts and cultural policy for everyone and everything
‘After a hiatus of ten long years Australia finally has a new national cultural policy that maps out what the current Albanese Government plans to do in support of Australian culture and creativity. At first glance the new policy appears to be an arts policy, rather than a broader cultural policy, but on closer scrutiny it is connected to far wider initiatives. Part of a series of three articles that consider different aspects of the cultural policy, this second one is about the connection between the policy and broader social and economic features, such as the cultural economy and First Nations economic development. The first one looks at the policy generally and outlines some of the major components it will deliver. The third article looks at the boost to the national collecting institutions which collect and safeguard Australia's cultural heritage,’ The whole picture – an arts and cultural policy for everyone and everything

Understanding the economy of the future - innovation and its place in the knowledge economy, creative economy, creative industries and cultural economy
‘When we start to think about the economy of the future – and the clean and clever jobs that make it up – we encounter a confusing array of ideas and terms. Innovation, the knowledge economy, the creative economy, creative industries and the cultural economy are all used, often interchangeably. Over the years my own thinking about them has changed and I thought it would be useful to try to clarify how they are all related’, Understanding the economy of the future – innovation and its place in the knowledge economy, creative economy, creative industries and cultural economy. 

Saving the farm – recognising Indigenous languages part of salvaging community
‘The end of the year – after a bumper 24 months of disasters – is a time of closure. Many things have changed and many more will change – hopefully mainly for the better. In particular people who have made major contributions to Australia creativity and culture are moving on from their roles to take up new interests or interests they have been too busy to pursue. This is particularly the case in the arena of First Nations languages, where the recognition amongst Australians generally of the importance of languages and culture is part and parcel of salvaging community – for everyone’, Saving the farm – recognising Indigenous languages part of salvaging community. 

Flight of the wild geese – Australia’s place in the world of global talent
‘As the global pandemic has unfolded, I have been struck by how out of touch a large number of Australians are with Australia’s place in the world. Before the pandemic many Australians had become used to travelling overseas regularly – and spending large amounts of money while there – but we seem to think that our interaction with the global world is all about discretionary leisure travel. In contrast, increasingly many Australians were travelling – and living – overseas because their jobs required it. Whether working for multinational companies that have branches in Australia or Australian companies trying to break into global markets, Australian talent often needs to be somewhere else than here to make the most of opportunities for Australia. Not only technology, but even more importantly, talent, will be crucial to the economy of the future’, Flight of the wild geese – Australia’s place in the world of global talent.

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.

Creative and cultural futures – understanding the creative and cultural economy
‘Survival in the creative sector in a post-COVID world will require enhanced literacy in the opportunities of the new industries of the future, the clean and clever knowledge economy which is altering our world on a daily basis. Now a new short course delivered completely online in the new digital universe we are all increasingly inhabiting will look closely at the creative and cultural economy and the broader impacts of creativity and culture, both economic and social. It will outline the role of the creative sector in managing meaning and explain how telling Australian stories puts us on the international stage in an increasingly globalised world’, Creative and cultural futures – understanding the creative and cultural economy.

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.

Design for policy innovation – from the world of design to designing the world
‘Design and the language of design is very broad – much broader than architecture or industrial or graphic design – the forms we are most conscious of. Design is also very much about processes and the development of concepts across almost all areas of human activity. This means it also has a high relevance to the development of policy to solve pressing social challenges, moving beyond the world of design to embrace the design of the world. In a highlight of DESIGN Canberra this year, respected Dutch presenter Ingrid Van der Wacht led discussion about the relevance of design to innovative policy – from local, highly specific policy to grand strategic policy designed to change whole regions and even nations’, Design for policy innovation – from the world of design to designing the world.

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.

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.

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.

 

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