Local, Independant and Effective

Cultural Economy in Indi report

Posted October 21, 2015



CATHY McGOWAN (Indi) (21:10):  Tonight I would like to speak about the cultural economy of Indi and of the work of Ruby Holloway, who has worked as an intern in my office for the past six months under the Australian National Internships Program. Ruby is a local from Wangaratta in north-east Victoria. She is currently in her second year studying Law/Arts at ANU. She says she has been interested in the arts all her life, and acknowledges the support of her parents, Robert and Sylvia, who, she says, 'let my interest in the arts flourish from childhood and never stopped supporting me.'

The Australian National Internships Program provided an excellent vehicle for Ruby to further her knowledge, and an opportunity to perform applied policy work to complement her academic studies. The ANIP is an excellent program, and I am grateful to both the ANU and the Presiding Officers for their support. During their internships, students complete a research project which is assessed by academic staff, and the students gain academic credit for their internships which counts towards their degrees.

Ruby's report is titled The cultural economy and Indi, and the report analyses why a strong cultural economy is important in Australia, and the impact that funding and funding cuts have on the ability to strengthen the cultural economy. The report makes recommendations that will help boost the arts, particularly in my electorate of Indi.

I will let Ruby's words tell the story of the cultural economy. 'A cultural economy is the impact to a region through the arts—not only the visual arts, but music, writing, architecture, theatre, filmmaking and many other creative activities.' The impact is split into two arms. Firstly, there is the traditional economic impact. This is quantifiable in monetary terms, and the revenue created by cultural practices is often overlooked. Secondly, there is the impact that having a strong cultural economy has on the lifestyles of people who live in the regions. This is especially important for Indi as a rural and regional electorate where people often feel like they are missing out on arts events by not living in Melbourne or Sydney.

The electorate of Indi has a rich arts culture that covers a wide range of mediums and interests, and this plays a massive role in the lifestyle enjoyed by my constituents. There is rarely a weekend in Indi where there is not an exhibition, gallery opening, music festival or other showcase happening somewhere in the electorate.

Ruby's report is in four chapters. The first outlines what a cultural economy entails, what it means to talk about boosting it, and the impact this has on the community, as well as looking at sources of funding for the arts in Indi, and the saddening trend of continuous cuts to the arts.

Chapter 2 is a case study into the internationally recognised Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival that is held over the last weekend of October. This festival highlights musicians who are local, interstate and international, in a variety of concerts that are both free and ticketed. It is worth in excess of $1.6 million annually to the local economy, and, Mr Speaker, could I point out that this is on in Wangaratta the weekend after next. It will be lovely to see you and any other of my colleagues on your way through! The jazz festival is on 30 October in Wangaratta—a great time.

Chapter 3 of Ruby's report focuses on the HotHouse Theatre in Wodonga, which started out as the Murray River Performing Group in 1979 and is the root of the renowned Flying Fruit Fly Circus. This regional theatre company brings high quality performances to Albury Wodonga, allowing local people to enjoy the country lifestyle without missing out on the cultural events of the capital cities.

The final chapter of Ruby's report is the conclusion with recommendations, some of which I would like to share with the House tonight. She stresses the importance of local recognition for cultural and arts practices, particularly support for arts in communities, and building networks of artists; she also stresses the importance of better funding support for the arts, the creation of a database so that we know who is who and what is on, the creation of an Indi arts award, collaboration with media for promotion, and the use of social media to maintain connections between groups and allow the wider population to know what is happening in Indi. So we have instituted #Indiarts.

In closing, congratulations to Ruby. You have done a terrific job. To Paul Squires and the boys at the jazz festival, thank you for your help. To Tahni Froudist and the board of HotHouse also, thank you.

This is an excellent report. Well done to all concerned. I look forward to working with Ruby and other artists to advance the cultural economy of Indi.

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