Opinion

Arts as an intergenerational issue?

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Greetings everyone! My name is Revelly Robinson and I’m tremendously thrilled to have been selected as the Blogger-in-Residence for Capital Letters. I’ve been following the blog for a long time and I hope to be able tocontinue informing everyone in the ACT writing community about writing events, developments affecting the industry and people who are making a difference with their creativity.

My first blog post for the term will touch on something very dear to my heart as an emerging writer—arts funding. As I’m sure anyone starting off in the arts world can empathise, the life of an artist is fraught with financial sacrifice and competition. Creativity is not something which is economically rewarded across the board. The 50 Shades of Greys and Hunger Games of the world are exceedingly rare and one only needs to browse the $0.99 section of Amazon to wonder how on earth authors are supposed to make a living.

It’s no wonder then that arts is regarded as a subsidised industry, with the literary industry being the sector with the smallest amount of funding. The last comprehensive policy on the Commonwealth arts sector, the Creative Australia report released in 2013, brought fresh optimism to the arts sector with promises of additional federal funding and a renewed push to make arts and culture a pillar of the modern Australian economy. Sadly, that optimism came crashing down in 2014 when the federal budget revealed deep cuts to the independent arts movement while conversely propping up the big players like State Theatre Companies and Opera Australia with more money.

Arts funding has slipped even further from the national agenda with the failure to mention culture in future federal policy planning. With the recent release of the 2015 Intergenerational Report, most of the focus has been on government expenditure and the ageing population. However, as the Report fails to address the impact of climate change on Australia, so too does it omit discussion about the importance of Australia’s cultural economy to future generations. As the Report acknowledges, innovation and technology are key factors in ensuring continued economic growth and will have substantial impacts on businesses and the marketplace. This is true, but it’s also important that technological growth is dependent on changing consumptionpatterns, and culture plays a key part in driving these behavioural shifts.

When John Howkins coined the term ‘Creative Economy’ in his 2001 book, he set in motion a reimagining of the way culture is viewed as an economic resource. He noted that sustained development of the creative economy was dependent on support for cultural industries and recognising the holistic value of creative products. The United Nations Creative Economy Report 2008 also emphasised the importance of government decision-making to a flourishing creative industry. Subsequent reports by United Nations bodies confirmed the relationship between culture and development and further encouraged favourable policy directions to facilitate an environment conducive to growth of the cultural sectors.

As Cate Blanchett so eloquently put it when delivering her speech in tribute to Gough Whitlam, “[i]n any civilised community, the arts and associated amenities must occupy a central place. Their enjoyment should not be seen as remote from everyday life.” These thoughts ring true as we consider the sort of society we want to be in the future. Will it be one where we can enjoy and appreciate creativity?

Revelly Robinson is a novelist, playwright and blogger. Her debut science fiction novel, Pangaea, is now available from Amazon.

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