The extraordinary growth in Asia, particularly over the last five years, has focused government at all levels on the policy implications for Australia. It is broadly acknowledged that cultural engagement is a crucial pathway for developing and deepening Australia’s relationship with Asia.
Good policy requires robust data and research. However unlike other sectors, there is very little quantitative or qualitative data available about cultural engagement between Australian artists and arts organisations and the Asian region. The Victoria-Asia Cultural Engagement Research Report was developed to redress this data deficit.
The findings and recommendations of the report may provide some direction for the sector and government at all levels for the development of appropriate policies, programs and support. It may also sustain and expand the continued flourishing of rich and deep cultural relationships with Asia and ensure that Australia remains at the forefront of new policy initiatives.
The results give a more comprehensive and up-to-date assessment of activity, challenges, barriers, opportunities and aspirations than previously available. In some respects there are no surprises. The identification of priority countries such as India, Indonesia, China, Japan, Singapore and South Korea correlates with other sectors of the economy. The issue of resources and funding as key barriers to engagement is to be expected in a sector where much of the activity, both domestically and internationally, is not undertaken for purely commercial reasons.
The overall picture arising from the research project is one of a developing maturity in the Victorian arts sector with regard to the opportunities and challenges of engaging with Asia. Arts organisations are looking to increase their engagement with Asia over the next five years and want the tools and support to facilitate this. There is a great deal of realism and pragmatism from the sector about the challenges, prospects and potential role of government interventions in this area.