Who profits from the arts: taking the measure of Australian culture

Arts Arts funding Arts citizen participation Culture Public value Australia

Today, arts advocates are more likely to appeal to the arts’ economic contributions to cultural tourism, or else couch civic prestige and aesthetic attainment in terms of the arts’ ability to attract capital and a creative and talented workforce to a city or region. Advocates are less likely to resort to an apparently outmoded humanistic consensus that the arts were the finest expressions of the human spirit, with a vital role in improving individuals and society alike.

Australia's four great arts centres are major cultural destinations in our capital cities. In Brisbane, the authors write, Expo 88 signalled a transformation from a country town to a vibrant, liveable city that draws immigration from the southern states. Local government has emerged as a major supporter of culture and the arts, enthusiastically adopting 'creativity' as a cipher for economic development. But what does this say to a wider community about the benefits of cultural participation? Performing arts centres are at the forefront of new developments, actively seeking to create public value. The old lines between producer and consumer are being broken down and new lines of active interaction are being built via the internet. These centres have come a long way, say Ferres and Adair, but the demands on our new cultural leadership need a fresh and subtle understanding of the nature of demand in this new world of connectivity.


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