Kate MacNeill


This edition of the Asia Pacific Journal of Arts and Cultural Management is framed by the theme of collaboration: a term that embraces many artistic and academic projects and is at the heart of arts and cultural management practice. The articles apply the concept of collaboration to nation-to-nation arts exchanges, community cultural development projects, civic engagement by artistic communities, public art production, film making and the practices of local government. These collaborations occur across Japan, Australia, Singapore, Papua New Guinea, China and Solomon Islands.

The articles share a sophisticated understanding of both formal and informal collaborations, between and within organisations and governments, nations and cities; and highlight the important role that personal relationships play in establishing and sustaining collaborative endeavours.

Maggie McCormick writes about the way in which public art in China has developed alongside a new urbanism in Chinese cities and the emergence of contemporary art practices. Acknowledging the complexity of intercultural research, McCormick’s subtle analysis demonstrates how the particular nature of ‘making public’ in China has created its own discourses of public art and of collaboration. These observations are made against the background of several decades of artistic exchange between Australia and China, involving art practices that in early years took the form of intercultural mural projects framed within a model of consensus, but more recently have embraced practices that are open to and reflective of, difference and the cultural collisions that are inherent to contemporary forms of urban existence.

Herbeth Fondevilla analyses two recent urban regeneration projects in Japanese cities which involved community-based arts projects. In this important article, Fondevilla identifies critical success factors: the commitment of a local campus of a university, bringing with it dedicated staff and energetic students, and a strong collaborative arrangement between the university, local government and business. In so doing, she reminds us that urban revitalisation is intertwined with the existing resources and characteristics of a location, and cannot transcend inadequate urban infrastructure: the success and sustainability of one project being inhibited by the absence of a public transport system that might have facilitated more widespread community participation. Fondevilla’s article asserts the need for community based arts projects to go hand in hand with community infrastructure so as to maximise participation in the social and cultural life of cities.

Allison Holland reviews the history of Japan-Australia cultural exchange and the relationships that emerged between avant-garde Australian artists and new media artists in Japan in the post-war period. Through an extensive analysis of artists exhibiting at the Biennale of Sydney from 1973 to 1990, Holland demonstrates the significant role played by the Biennale in promoting the work of Japanese artists. She speculates that a strategic partnership between new media artists and Japanese industry, in particular the Sony Corporation, contributed to this rich cultural exchange. Holland also identifies an alternative cultural exchange that emerged in Melbourne, as a network of avant-garde artists hosted exhibitions by Japanese artists and formed ongoing collaborations through the auspices of the Gryphon Gallery. This analysis of cultural engagements between Japanese and Australian artists is a timely reminder that artists have long been at the forefront of non-governmental bilateral international relationships.

Emma Blomkamp makes a significant contribution to our understanding of arts and cultural policy development in local government. Utilising an innovative methodological approach to the practices of local government she demonstrates the way in which both formal and informal modes of policy development influence cultural programming. Blomkamp establishes the paradigm of a ‘governance medley’ which involves policy workers employing creative and collaborative strategies in different settings. Of particular interest to Blomkamp is the role that creative thinking on the part of artists played in these processes; being able to convey the aesthetics of a problem city site facilitated collaboration between a range of council branches charged with the late-night activation policy development and implementation.

Audrey Wong has authored a fascinating industry paper that draws attention to the growing cooperation within, and civic engagement on the part of, the artistic community in Singapore. She describes two occasions on which members of an emerging coalition of artists undertook an organised intervention in the political processes of Singapore. Wong speculates that a growing sense of civic engagement on the part of elements of the arts community may have been encouraged by the prominence given to creative activity by the Singapore Government since the 1980s, as well as reflecting an increased desire for political engagement by the population as a whole. Wong documents these events, recognising both the importance of maintaining an archive, but also in the hope that the record will encourage more critical engagement with these specific examples of artist activism.

Filmmaking is an inherently collaborative activity and it is no surprise that two industry papers engage with filmmaking projects; each with a very strong element of community participation and empowerment.

Ceridwen Spark combines a thoughtful analysis of the roles of women in Papua New Guinea with details of a collaborative film project: Pawa Meri, which involves the University of Goroko in the Eastern Highlands province of Papua New Guinea and Victoria University in Melbourne. The focus of this film project is on highlighting and celebrating the capacity of PNG women who take up leadership roles and Spark provides an insight into the rich collaborations that have facilitated the making of one of the six films in the series.

Adriel Tahisi and Samantha Cooper reflect on a second collaborative film project, Wantok Stori, and the production of Wea nao mi?, a film that derives from, and speaks to young people’s experience of life in the Solomons. Tahisi and Cooper skilfully position the project within the wider literature on community cultural practices. A group devised and produced work, the film not only engaged Solomon Islanders but also drew in Pacific Island communities in Melbourne, Australia. Of particular interest is the way in which the project incorporated the existing use of social media among young people in the creative development of the film.

This is the first edition of the Asia Pacific Journal of Arts and Cultural Management produced from its new home in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. The theme of collaboration seems particularly apt given the significant number of people that have assisted not only in the production of this edition but also in the transfer of the journal to the University of Melbourne. My thanks to Dr Jo Caust for all the work she has done over the years to both establish and maintain the Journal, and for her generous assistance in the handover process. At the University of Melbourne my thanks go to Gary Liang who established the website presence at the University and Fiona Moore who ably assisted in the administrative arrangements relating to the transfer. Jenny Mullaly’s editorial assistance and advice was invaluable. Taking on the journal is indeed a challenge but my initial trepidation gave way to enthusiasm when contributions to the Journal started to arrive. It gives me great pleasure to have included voices from a diverse range of countries in the Asia-Pacific region in this edition. My sincere thanks go to the members of the editorial committee for their advice and support during 2012. I look forward to working with you all in 2013.

Dr Kate MacNeill

Arts and Cultural Management Program
School of Cultural and Communication
University of Melbourne

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