What is the culture of our place, of our backyard? Lyndon Terracini, director of the Brisbane Festival, who spent thirty years in the opera houses of Europe before settling in the NSW town of Lismore, reveals the rich diversity of Australia's country-town culture and makes a strong plea for their right to the same respect as metropolitan culture. Preservation of our stories is as essential to our survival as our flora and fauna. Performance that deals truthfully with local dilemmas can be transforming and lay the ground for work of global significance, he writes. Festivals are one way of providing this development. We have depended too long on European tradition in our arts; but our population is changing rapidly and it is in the community that the power lies to build an artistic culture that is truly our own.