Valuing Arts and Creativity in Australia – Challenging Times

Diversity of the Mind

Earth boy - South Pacific

The value of the arts and creativity in Australian life is all about inspiring and challenging audiences, stakeholders and supporters to foster relationships and innovate collaborations that lead to academic and economic benefit.

A creative education helps to drive industries, commerce and the economy bringing about a culture of giving, partnership and investment, mentorship and entrepreneurship, which should be supported by all levels of government.

There is no doubt we are living in challenging times and evolving a culture in Australia that nurtures and supports people’s aspirations can be achieved best by ensuring its artists, creative individuals and teams become worthy representatives of Australian culture around the world.


The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported the arts industry contributed $86 billion to the Australian economy in 2014. Seen in tandem with figures published by the Victorian government, this would rather suggest the Australian innovative arts and culture industry, which is recognised and acknowledge internationally, is certainly worthy of government investment.

People InteractingCreative industry thinkers are an integral part of the whole Australian economy, increasing innovation, supporting productivity and helping to improve the quality of products and services we offer.

If you want an example of how diverse the creative industry is; an industrial designer at an automotive company, a finance worker in a design firm are both integral to the growth of a creative and cultural economy.`

In the state of Victoria alone the creative and cultural sector contributed $22.7 billion in 2013 to the state of its economy, representing 8% of the State total. This is more than construction ($19.8 billion) and close to manufacturing ($26.3 billion).

People-Moving-ForwardThe creative and cultural economy of Victoria in 2013 also generated $1.4 billion in exports – mostly in services– and attracted cultural tourism worth $1 billion and it is still growing.

Raising social capital has a long-term impact on our material and cultural assets. Certainly it is generating active collaborations from education to health, justice and science, to business and community development.

The industries affected are very diverse, Museums, Environment, Libraries, Literature, Archives, Performing Arts, Design, Digital Media, Film, Music Composition, Publishing, Visual Arts, Fashion to name just some.

australian-money1Australian creators have invented refrigeration, mechanical clippers and the electric drill, paradigm shifting inventions that illustrate the power of the creative industries to drive economic outcomes.

‘Human brains have evolved ‘to be as big as they are so that we can think about and manage our relationships with other people’*.

Physician, author, inventor and consultant Edward de Bono (1933-) said ‘the quality of our future will depend on the quality of our thinking’.


Liberal Senator for South Australia, Simon Birmingham, Minister for Education and Training

Must say I found it difficult to understand what Australia’s current Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham was thinking when he recently referred to arts course diplomas on offer in Australia as catering to “lifestyle choices”.

For a Minister of Education his use of words was to say at the very least, unfortunate.

It seems in terms of funding by governments, the old adage of an inconsiderate few spoiling it for the many has rared its ugly head yet again.

Group-Business-PeopleIf there has been a rorting of the Vocational Education and Training (VET) loans system as reported, then surely it is a failure of politicians in government to provide the appropriate structures, protocols and procedures, or to ensure effective sanctions against those who default or abuse the system are in place?

It seems extraordinary that in this day and age we are still having to trash one government’s system to build another from the ground up. This is 2016 after all and enormous precedence for successful systems abound.


Australian musician Nicole Canham, committed to creating transformative arts experiences – she delivered the Peggy Glanville-Hicks Address, The Poetry of the Present, for the New Music Network 2016

Frustration plus abounds now within the creative and arts industry as a whole, and the dramatic arts and music industries in particular.



NIDA trained Cate Blanchett receiving her Academy award for ‘Blue Jasmine’ 2014, an inspiration for students

This was clearly evident when attending clarinetist, scholar and curator Nicole Canham’s ‘sizzling’ 2016 Peggy Glanville-Hicks Address in Melbourne recently.

You can download a copy here…nicole-canham-the-poetry-of-the-present

You can check here about VET Student Loans

In community or corporate life investing in people and quality processes produces sustainable and superior business performance. This is as important in an everyday business context as it is in a social environment if the aim is to produce the best results.

Completing a Diploma Course to find a starting point for the career they wish to have can only become a reality for many students with financial assistance.

Quite often that first post-high school experience is only a first step in some individuals choosing a satisfying career in another field.

businessSome people take longer than others to sort out a career path. Does that mean their studies are wasted? Well no is the answer.

Any student of tertiary education gains a great deal from going through the process in order to achieve a study-life balance.

What is important is that the study process enables them to gain the experience to know how to assist in implementing new ideas and strategies, to know how to learn from their own mistakes and to focus on underpinning a bigger vision by getting the details right.

Young-People-ReadingKey skills are developed such as learning to communicate, how to solve problems, how to be flexible, how to plan and organize, with opportunities for practicing self-discipline by discovering how to find a satisfying and rewarding career.

We all need to know and understand about other people’s work pressures so we can value their roles, skills and contributions to our own success, while taking extra care in delivering our promises. That is best achieved through the study process.

Creative people today all over the world are transforming every day life and if greater efficiency and productivity are factored into the equation, well then everyone benefits.

The work of creative people fills theatres, cinemas, galleries, and bookshops and can be found on countless digital devices. Writers, visual and performance artists are like scientists: unique individuals with highly specialized skills, knowledge, discipline and talent.

NGV Kids & Ellwood

Director National Gallery of Victoria Tony Ellwood with children enjoying their program NGV Kids

In Victoria where I live our current politicians see the state as the creative capital of Australia – the national home of arts and culture. It makes the people who live here believe they are strong. It also helps them to discover how best to belong.


Culture-in-the-ColoniesDeveloping systems for society to operate successfully within can be traced back to various societies in antiquity, when many tribes and groups in many different cultures sorted out their own system of hierarchy controlled by checks and balances.

In the past we might have believed culture was only about excellence in the arts, letters, manners and scholarly pursuits. In the twenty first century it is about so much more?

A culture demonstrates its concern for others, especially if it is to celebrate its achievements. It must provide opportunities for people with different gifts to come together to exchange views and opinions, to develop ways of recording what is agreed and done and to drive success together. This should be an important aspect of any thriving community.

Our society is based on an economic system and in our contemporary world if we are to prosper, it will happen best through an economy driven by inventiveness and by encouraging students to pursue creative careers.

Melbourne Now Artists

Melbourne Now Artists at NGV International, reflecting the complex cultural aspect of creative Melbourne, 2013/2014

In our contemporary age both artists and creative professionals have become integral mainstream elements of Australia’s social and economic life, which should be all about opportunities, confidence, excellence, jobs and prosperity.

Victoria’s aim to foster creative excellence, build audiences and markets, cultivate skills innovation and entrepreneurship, harness digital technology, support Aboriginal arts and culture, elevate international engagement and creatively enhance tourism is all about benefiting cultural, social and economic life.


Bringing people of all cultures and communities together to create an environment that is not only green and sustainable, but also enriching in the way we live in it and deal with each other is vitally important. It helps us to generate new ideas and invent new ways of understanding the world.

The gift of creativity, one that is both living and changing, ensures that we will all have an opportunity to enjoy a robust cultural life in challenging times.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2016

Download Nicole-Canham-The-Poetry-of-the-Present

Diversity of the Mind

*Changing the Subject: How New Ways of Thinking about Human Behaviour might change Politics, Policy and Practice by Matt Grist published RSA London.

** Quoted results: Creative Victoria paper: Let’s get creative about Victoria’s future Developing Victoria’s first creative industries strategy

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