30/10/2018 - 15:39

Magadza’s vision for arts direction

30/10/2018 - 15:39

Bookmark

Upgrade your subscription to use this feature.

More than a decade spent working with international arts festivals in Perth and New Zealand has given Shelagh Magadza a unique insight into how culture and the arts reflect the societies in which they exist.

Shelagh Magadza says WA often downplays its successful arts industry. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

More than a decade spent working with international arts festivals in Perth and New Zealand has given Shelagh Magadza a unique insight into how culture and the arts reflect the societies in which they exist.

The new executive director of Western Australia’s arts advocacy body, the Chamber of Arts and Culture, told Business News her curatorial experience had provided a broad oversight of how the ecology of each location worked.

“By sheer size and the weight of the population, there is a greater diversity across Australia, and even Western Australia, in terms of art forms and representation,” she said.

“The thing that New Zealand has done extremely well is incorporate indigenous culture into the mainstream; it’s one of the most progressive places for that in the world.”

Ms Magadza said she has been heartened to see the progress made in indigenous reconciliation since she was last in Perth.

“It’s been great to come back and see that coming up the agenda in a significant way in all sectors, but now it’s the challenge of how you turn that into action,” she said.

This is an area Ms Magadza hopes to continue to promote, as well as the ongoing need for greater and more consistent arts funding.

“The main issue that remains (in Perth) is that the arts still sees a very, very small portion of funding,” Ms Magadza told Business News.

“I think there’s a lot of ongoing work to be done to help people understand the value of the arts in a broader sense.

“We would love things to be funded to excel, not just to survive.”

Ms Magadza said innovation and change were vital for the industry, particularly to guide the decision making of leaders in the sector.

Perth had shown willingness to foster creativity, she said, but creative industries needed to invest in original ways of working and thinking, for example through a greater uptake of new technologies.

With arts budget cuts likely to continue, she said collaborative partnerships would need to be fostered in WA, engaging audiences and promoting investment by acknowledging the mutual benefits of a thriving industry.

“It’s the same approach that Starbucks took – the more coffee shops there are on the strip, the more coffee you sell,” she said.

“There is to some degree a competition in terms of choice, but the good thing is if someone is choosing one thing over the other, they are still engaged.

“I believe if people have a really good experience at one thing, it will increase their appetite.”

Ms Magadza said WA audiences were remarkably engaged, and had higher attendances per capita at big events than most major cities in Australia.

“That’s my real fondness and respect for WA, and the reason I wanted to come back, that huge level of engagement,” she said.

“Plus in the regions we have incredible indigenous artists working who are successful on a world stage.

“We underplay our successes here sometimes.”

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options