Editorial

Associate Professor Jo Caust

Abstract


This edition of the Asia Pacific Journal of Arts and Cultural Management is largely devoted to the meaning and value of festivals. However we have also included a paper which focuses on pedagogical approaches to arts management. In relation to festivals we have three important contributions. One paper questions the way festivals are evaluated, another looks at the role they play in the life of indigenous people and the third argues the importance of arts festivals for the development of good and new arts practice. They are papers written by writers who are passionate about their subject exploring issues outside of the contextualising of festivals as tourist destinations or generators of economic value.
In "the real 'worth' of festivals: challenges for measuring socio-cultural impacts" Steve Brown and Daniella Trimboli argue that the dominant evaluation approach to festivals which prioritises economic values, limits a festival's understanding and meaning, and may even have a negative impact on its practice. They note that poor economic performance can lead to the event's demise or its de-funding, even if it is successful in cultural and community terms. They discuss the use instead of 'socio- cultural impact evaluation' which focuses on the impact a festival or event has on it host or its community. The challenge, as they see it, is that there is no general agreement by festival organisers, funders or academics as to the best methodology for implementing this. While they observe there seems to be general agreement by everyone involved in the evaluation process that the economic approach is too limited, implementing an approach based on say Triple Bottom Line concerns is also in dispute. Brown and Trimboli while not offering a solution, argue that given the widespread increase and valuing of festivals, alternative methods for festival evaluation do need to be introduced soon.
Lisa Slater makes an impassioned plea in "Don't let the Sport and Rec. officer get hold of it: Indigenous festivals, big aspirations and local knowledge" for supporting indigenous ownership of indigenous festivals. She talks about the many benefits of cultural indigenous festivals to the communities that host them. But she notes that some festivals have been appropriated for sending messages to a community, either directly or indirectly, which usually relates to the mandate of the funding authority involved. While she is not entirely dismissive of the values of some of the messages, she is concerned that the festival as a cultural engagement or celebration is dissipated or perverted. The positive roles played by festivals in communities, is generally not in dispute. However Slater interrogates the nature of the relationship between the mainstream white community and the event, and in particular, the role of officialdom or bureaucracy. Hence the title of the paper and the underlying message that festivals must remain controlled by their cultural owners and not cynically used by other agencies to transmit their agenda.
Anthony Steel has made an extraordinary contribution to the arts scene in Australia and elsewhere. In his paper "Creative Arts and the Humanities: the Festival Experience" he talks passionately about the importance of the arts to a civil society. He references the work of Martha Nussbaum and her recent publication about the role of the arts and humanities in a healthy democracy. Steel notes in this context the importance of arts festivals in the spectrum of artistic practice as well as in a broader discussion of ideas. When talking about festivals he is not talking about the staging of large scale popular events. In fact he critiques the use of festivals for cynical political and economic ends. He is clear that he thinks the role of a contemporary arts festival is to challenge accepted norms and not be populist in intent. In fact he thinks the use of the term 'elitist' is a positive in the context of arts festivals because he associates the term with pushing the boundaries in artistic practice while recognising that this experience is not for everyone.
In "Creating Successful Cultural Brokers: The Pros and Cons of a Community of Practice Approach in Arts Management Education", Bree Hadley explores the underlying philosophy behind arts management education. In particular she explores the content and approach of one subject area within a program's curriculum framed within a methodology of 'a community of practice'. Hadley discusses in detail the expectations and understandings of students engaged in this field, querying whether it is better if students have more similar backgrounds and experiences before undertaking such a program. She uses the methodology of action research to review the students' relationships with their work and comes to conclusions about their pedagogical experience. For those of us engaged in pedagogical practice in this field it is an interesting exploration of several of the issues that perplex and challenges us in the field.
This edition of the journal is my last as Managing Editor. Having recently retired from full-time academic practice, it is time for me to hand the mantle on. I am delighted however that Dr Kate MacNeill, Director of the Arts Management Program at Melbourne University, has agreed to take over this challenging but fascinating role. In addition Melbourne University's arts management program will become the new home of the journal.
I have enjoyed the experience of engaging with so many writers and researchers over the years. The role of editor is a great learning experience for any academic or writer. It teaches you about good writing and provides a direct relationship with people whom you may have never met, but with whom you correspond with regularly and intensely about ideas. Editing a journal is of course a collaborative affair. Firstly it involves working directly with an assistant who liaises with everyone, manages the process and eventually puts the content online. Over the years the primary holders of this role have been Pearl Panickar and most recently, Tammy Latham, both of whom have made a major contribution to the journal. Indeed the journal would not have continued without their outstanding support and intervention. The wonderful editorial advisory committee has also been critical to the survival and activities of the journal. They have contributed on many levels to the process and given their names to promote the journal’s reputation. Then there are the referees who have so generously contributed by voluntarily reading and offering feedback on multiple papers through the years. Finally the contributors themselves; their input, offerings, original research and ideas have made the journal what it is. Thank you to you all.
Associate Professor Jo Caust

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Asia Pacific Journal of Arts and Cultural Management; ISSN 1449-1184
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