Jo Caust


This edition of the journal includes four papers that were presented as part of a research symposium bringing together academics and industry practitioners to talk about "How we value the arts" at the University of South Australia in February 2009. It begins with a great contribution from John Holden who was invited to Australia to talk about issues related to cultural value. He was the keynote speaker at the symposium and he talks in this paper about the need to recognise how society has changed dramatically in the past 40 years in its attitude to arts and culture. While noting that there have always been different constructs attached to the term 'culture', he talks about there being three approaches to the representation of culture. He describes these as intrinsic, instrumental and institutional. He notes that each different framing uses a different language and that trying to reduce an understanding of culture to one framing, does not work in the contemporary age. Holden proposes that recognising these different framings of culture will assist policy makers, practitioners and participants in becoming clearer into their understanding of culture and their need for it.
Following John Holden's paper, Barry Burgan, a cultural economist form Adelaide University who also presented at the same symposium, talks about the challenges implicit in the economic framing of the arts, what it can tell you and what it cannot tell you. This is a refreshing paper from an economist because it is written in a way that is accessible to the general audience, as well as acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses of an economic framing of the arts. Burgan emphasises the need to recognise and value the community importance of the arts, rather than see them in terms of a 'market failure' or like.
Another invited speaker at the symposium was Louise Johnson, a geographer from Deakin University. In her paper Johnson explores understandings of cultural value in relation to the community setting. In particular she considers the role the arts has played (or not) in the urban regeneration of Geelong. She discusses some of the aspirations for Geelong within a cultural context, including a desire for a Guggenheim Museum to resemble the Bilbao model, and why this idea failed, while others succeeded. She notes the importance of creating practices that are sustainable in the context of a particular setting such as Geelong and the benefits arts activities have provided to the community of Geelong.
Lisa Philip-Harbutt was a practitioner who was also invited to present at the symposium and she contributes a provocative discourse about how the arts need to be seen with an active construct rather than in isolation or separate. Phillip-Harbutt is a practising artist as well as an arts administrator, so she brings these different perspectives to the conversation around value, ethics and arts practice. This presentation definitely benefits from reading aloud to capture the nuances in her rhetorical argument and she provides visual and intellectual stimulation on the journey.
Huong Le's paper while not part of the symposium around value and the arts does an interesting comparison between performing arts organisations in Vietnam and Australia and notes how they can contribute knowledge to each other. She selects 4 case studies and (two from each country) and compares and contrasts their approaches to fundraising, marketing, arts practice and attitudes. While noting environmental difference s between the two countries, she also draws on similarities, arguing that for this reason, there are lessons that can be learnt. She also talks about the need for appropriate arts management training to develop the skills needed in a changing environment.


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