By Christiane Keys-Statham & Emily Sinclair
2012 is a big year for the arts and culture sectors in Australia. Our new National Cultural Policy will shortly be released postponed due to budget concerns – a victim of the surplus, and will hopefully reflect, inspire and, most importantly, commit to supporting Australia’s incredibly diverse and vibrant arts communities.
Our class this semester is made up of people from many different backgrounds, cultures and walks of life. The defining idea behind this issue of Artwrite is to provide a snapshot of Australia’s artistic and cultural life on the eve of the National Cultural Policy.
The four goals of the forthcoming Policy are:
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.
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.
3. To support excellence and world-class endeavour, and strengthen the role that the arts play in telling Australian stories both here and overseas.
4. To increase and strengthen the capacity of the arts to contribute to our society and economy.
This issue of Artwrite addresses all four goals of the National Cultural Policy. It mirrors the diversity of a 21st century Australia; it uses both established and emerging technologies in its development and distribution; it supports excellence in writing, thinking and expression; it tells Australian stories that will be shared online and furthered abroad by our international students; and it strengthens the arts’ contribution to the economy by forming part of our training to become future arts administrators, managers, artists and writers.
Included in this issue are articles on such diverse topics as recent contemporary art exhibitions in Australia and the Asia Pacific region, and reviews of collections in Australia and abroad.
Though the proposed policy represents a significant shift in the direction of the arts in Australia, it also emphasises the need for arts workers to reiterate the importance of the cultural sector within society. The implementation of the policy itself is not enough to elicit change – we need to actively ensure that the arts remain a priority for a government determined to return the budget to surplus. The recently released review of the Australia Council proposes more funding for emerging artists and new art forms; our articles echo the vitality and importance of such practices in contemporary Australian society, and internationally. This issue of Artwrite is a way to express our thoughts and opinions in relation to these current circumstances.
As students, participants, lovers of art and ‘key stakeholders’, we are constantly exposed to topical currents in the arts and culture sectors, both domestic and international, and we are gaining some measure of insight and a deeper understanding of significant events. This issue of Artwrite is also a way to share, communicate, and express our understanding of the contemporary Australian art scene as it stands today.
Our thanks go to everyone in this semester’s Writing for Different Cultures class, with particular thanks to Terence Maloon, Nina Berrell, and Joanna Mendelssohn. The collaboration and mutual exchange involved in bringing this edition to fruition has been inspiring.