notes from artists dinners #1

In November, I hosted three dinner conversations with independent artists as part of The Artist as Driver, my research into leadership, governance, and advocacy as an independent artist. This early series, in very timely fashion, also bookmarked Arts Front 2030. The plan is to host more dinner conversations in the new year. Sign up here to join me at the next one.

Jamie Lewis
Artists Dinners
[Arts Front 2030]
3 dinners / 17, 21, 30 Nov 2016 / 31 guests


What could culture and the arts in Australia look like in 2030?
What are the limitations of our current systems?
What is the environment in which we practice?
How can we look at the immediate/individual, the community, and at systems and policy in these conversations?
What kind of infrastructure would we like to see in 2030?
Is what we need now what artists in 2030 would need?
Will the future include me?


On Resilience
How do we build resilience and trust?
Is it housing security what we really need?
Let’s talk about our quality of life instead of our standard of living.
[Melbourne winning the most liveable city award: how can Melbourne actually be more liveable?]
Is this an identity problem?
What are our guiding values?
Do we have ownership over our identity, community and culture?

On Creativity
How do we decentralise creativity?
Will art become digitised?
What does global art look like?
Mobility: art that can move?
Making art is like gardening/farming.
Art as a spectacle of ritual that transcends the ordinary.
Art as part of everyday life and intrinsically within community.

On History
Do we need to look back to look forward? What has changed since 2002?
Heritage knowledge: where are our elders?
Referring to past (cultural) revolutions: “as soon as the dictatorship ended, the artists rose…”
What are our rituals here in Australia?
Are we looking to traditional knowledge?

On Futuring
Is Futuring a practice unto itself?
Beautiful, simple, frugal, efficient – these are the characteristics of the new model.
We/Artists have a vision for a version of society and you haven’t caught up with it yet.
Who will we look towards? International and regional – First Peoples, Indonesia, Pacific, South-east Asia, Asia…instead of just the Euro-centric gaze.

On Infrastructure
Does the organisational model serve artists?
What is the function of boards? And who are on our boards?
There is the business case for diversity in boards and management, and the arts are slow to catch on.
What pathways are there for First Peoples, people of colour, women, people with disability, youth…towards leadership?
Fund practice, not projects.
What would a cultural audit on arts organisations look like?

On Youth
“We are the first generation that can put an end to poverty and we are the last generation that can put an end to climate change…” – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon’s address at a university ceremony.

On Money
Operating on a cashless economy.
What are some alternative currency?
Valuing the ephemeral.
Stepping away from a transactional approach to a community-minded approach.
How do we challenge capitalism in the city?
How do we challenge the perception of intrinsic cultural value?
If the arts were funded more, we would save on money that goes towards the effects of the arts [e.g. money in health departments going to art projects].

On Institutions
What are we really training these people for?
Where are the stories of the First Peoples, of people of colour, people with disability, young people…?
Institutions are not where the action is.
How effective is it to grade art and does that realistically reflect real life practice?

On Politics
How can the cultural and arts sector lobby better?
Why aren’t we lobbying regional members more when most of the lower house members represent regional/rural communities who are used to working in a state of flux?
How do we relate to and also fight for the marginalised and the impoverished?

On The City
Why do people love to go to the cities to ‘get out?’
Is post-war/suburbanisation part of the problem?
How will internal migration affect Australia?
How is internal migration a reflection of the success/failure of different state policies?
Are we disconnected from the public?
Inner-city housing non-affordability is equivalent to societal abuse, not just for artists.

On Audiences
Are the audiences actually our problem when engagement and participating in the arts is actually significant as outlined by Ben Eltham in Currency Press paper ‘When the Goalposts Move?’
More bogan bums on seats.

Image by Lynette Letic.

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