20/07/2015 - 16:32

Arts needs cultural connections

20/07/2015 - 16:32

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WA’s arts sector needs an ambitious, united vision if it is to realise its creative and cultural dreams.

Arts needs cultural connections
ARTS PLAN: Julie Hobbs (left), Henry Boston, Paul Bodlovich, and Graeme Russell at last week’s event. Photo: Philip Gostelow

WA’s arts sector needs an ambitious, united vision if it is to realise its creative and cultural dreams.

Prominent members of Perth’s creative arts industry have echoed recent calls for more interaction with the tourism sector.

They want to see a greater appreciation of home-grown design and want the state to address flaws in cultural strategy, repeating concerns made at a tourism and arts roundtable event at Business News in June.

Speaking at a Media Super event in Perth last week hosted by its chief executive, Graeme Russell, Chamber of Arts and Culture WA executive director Henry Boston said that, with some notable exceptions, the state’s arts sector had been too insular and needed to collaborate with other industries – in particular tourism.

He said Perth and Western Australia were not meeting visitors’ and residents’ desire for an Aboriginal cultural centre; and despite many large residential, office and entertainment precincts being developed to cater to a booming city population, the lack of an overarching cultural strategy had left “a gaping hole”.

“When you arrive at the airport you see nothing that tells you what is fantastic about this place,” Mr Boston said. “Elizabeth Quay, or Betty’s Jetty as people refer to it, that’s a big development (with) no cultural infrastructure, just a lot of coffee shops.

“There’s a significant investment in getting larger groups of people within the city, but the City of Perth actually has no cultural plan.

“Many of the visitors who come to this city, to this state, are looking for an experience that is unique to this state; we don’t offer them that in many ways.

“We have the longest continuous practised Aboriginal culture in this state, but actually if you’re looking for a public presence of it it’s very hard to find; and in fact they talk about the majority of visitors going away feeling they have not had any sort of indigenous experience … I think that’s a great lost opportunity.”

FutureNow Creative and Leisure Training chief executive Julie Hobbs said there was a significant gulf between the number and activities of designers in other states compared with WA, partly due to a lack of public appreciation.

“WA does have an active design community; it’s small, it’s vulnerable to economic downturn, and it’s nothing like the scale of those in NSW, Victoria or Queensland,” she said.
“I think there needs to be a recognition that professionalism needs to be maintained, and there are low barriers to entry. People watch (home renovation series) The Block, people have a desktop publishing system ... if we’re going to have a design-saturated world I think it should be one that is of beautiful quality, fit for purpose and adds value.”

Film & Television Institute WA Paul Bodlovich said the FTI was working to create an environment where people making films could fail, because to demand constant success was to stifle creativity.

“What’s really important is ... that the repercussions of failure are not you’re cut off, but actually ok; you learn from that (and ask) what comes next, how do you do it better next time?” he said.

“If the only thing that’s possible as the outcome of the program is that (it’s) successful, then people can’t take risks, people can’t go outside the box; they just need to make sure that what they do ticks all the boxes along the way and that it’s satisfactory to whoever’s permission the program requires.”


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