Sunday, October 30, 2011

National Cultural Policy

In August 2011, the Australian Government released a discussion paper for a National Cultural Policy so that organisations, community groups and individuals could contribute their suggestions and feedback.


GROUNDSWELL strongly supports a National Cultural Policy that reflects and expresses a collective vision for Australia’s cultural and arts sector. 

A National Cultural Policy is a timely venture for two reasons, one, because of the consistent strive for a national identity that seeks ‘Australianess’ that can embrace Australia’s ongoing shifting identity with its equally consistent influx of immigrant waves that challenge the every day person and artist alike to redefine who we are as individuals and as a nation, and two, because the whole world faces the unstoppable process of globalisation whereby production and consumption of arts and culture are pushed to the forefront as any other commodity and so now more than ever before we have the potential to rework the map of our times.

The demand for ‘Australian’ arts and culture (whatever that can be) is shaped by new lines of reasoning that link Eurocentricism to emerging societies previously referred to as Third World cultures. Similarly, the relationship between high and low arts, commonly known as folk or ethnic arts, are equally complicated now, they are almost seem indiscernible, and yet our Australian cultural identity - and therefore policy - must reflect the modern world and move with the times to not only to keep up, but to capitalise on this burgeoning market that is now without borders or limits.

3.           What are your views about each of the four goals?

GOAL 1: To ensure that what the Government supports — and how this support is provided — reflects the diversity of a 21st century Australia, and protects and supports Indigenous culture
We celebrate that Australia has ratified the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and we see this policy as an affirmative step in implementing the Convention’s principles and objectives.
Based on the above, we believe that Goal 1 should not be only a goal by itself, but is a crosswise dimension to the policy. New migrant communities have added to the rich mix of cultures that already existed by Indigenous peoples and the more established migrant communities. We are a multicultural society that changes and evolves in dynamic ways.
By recognising and validating the diverse cultural expressions that shape our nation, we have the invaluable opportunity to ensure that all Australians enjoy their right to access and participate in the thriving cultural life of the country.  

GOAL 2: To encourage the use of emerging technologies and new ideas that support the development of new artworks and the creative industries, and that enable more people to access and participate in arts and culture
Access is a key word that we need to reflect on. Increasing access to emerging technologies makes sense from an all-inclusive perspective, where all Australians, irrespective of their cultural, linguistic, socio-economic or educational background have the opportunity to engage with technology in meaningful and creative ways.

GOAL 3: To support excellence and world-class endeavour, and strengthen the role that the arts play in telling Australian stories both here and overseas
Excellence needs to be nurtured from the base, including supporting artistic education for children and young artists as well as amateur and community arts practice. Appropriate and accessible arts education and arts training need to play a substantial role here if we are to achieve this goal. Excellence must be valued and re-conceived from a diverse cultural practice perspective. Notions on ‘excellence’ have previously excluded those professionals working in non-dominant forms or with limited access to mainstream opportunities for training and career pathways.

GOAL 4: To increase and strengthen the capacity of the arts to contribute to our society and economy
We want to draw attention into the huge opportunity that Australia has, as a culturally diverse nation, in leading the way as a key player in the world’s creative economy. Having a diverse arts scene not only will attract local audiences; embracing diversity as our competitive advantage could also strengthen our asset as a major tourism destination in the world. Developing and presenting new cultural product and diverse cultural experiences will make our country more attractive, to local and overseas visitors. This not only will have a direct positive effect on positioning the cultural and arts sector itself, but on the whole local tourism industry and, in consequence, driving economic growth.

4.           What strategies do you think we could use to achieve each of the four goals?
  • Creation and development of arts organisations, programs and networks that   support multicultural arts practice
  • Encouraging artists and arts companies to develop cross-cultural work through national funding initiatives that allow its production, presentation and distribution to the wider community. This needs to be complemented with equal support to the maintenance and custodianship of traditional cultural expressions
  • Promoting international and local creative exchange through the funding of collaborative work and knowledge sharing between local and visiting artists
  • Contributing to a greater multicultural awareness through school curricula in order to increase young Australians´ knowledge and understanding of the diverse cultural expressions that make up Australia, its history, traditions, peoples and institutions; and their appreciation for Australia’s Indigenous cultures and languages
  • Diversification of the sector’s workforce and leadership through ongoing professional development programs with an emphasis on Indigenous and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse artists and arts workers
  •  Building partnerships with arts and social organisations to encourage and enable a higher level of participation in the arts of professional and community artists from recent migrant communities. This can be done, for example, through career pathways and mentorship programs
  • Championing arts organisations that reflect in their programming the rich diversity of Australia’s society
  • Mainstream presenters and broadcasters are encouraged to diversify its programming and curation processes
  • Working collaboratively with media and cultural institutions for building audiences and reaching people whom engagement in the arts is low
  •  Long–term collaborations across all levels of government and between Government agencies

5.  How can you, your organisation or sector contribute to the goals and strategies of the National Cultural Policy?
        GROUNDSWELL can contribute in a number of ways;
  • Participate in further reviews and discussions
  • Provide further information about the multicultural arts sector in NSW
  • Continue to develop its own goals and strategies in line with a National Cultural Policy
  • Continue to see the ongoing formation of a NSW peak or service body that will develop policies in line with a National Cultural Policy
  • Present and promote the National Cultural Policy at its upcoming public events and industry conferences in 2012

©GroundswellCTCS 2011

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