Monday, October 03, 2011

Australian Cultural Policy Development

A National Cultural Policy discussion paper was issued by the Mister for Arts Simon Crean, 11 August 2011. Comment is invited until 21 October 2011. Senator Lundy is conducing an on-line and face-to-face "Digital Culture Public Sphere" to collect input for the policy.

The discussion paper is available as a web site, and in two versions as PDF: 2 Mb PDF and 1 MB PDF Print version. It is not clear why the print version is smaller, nor why it is needed at all. Neither of the PDF documents are well formatted for reading on-line. This is not just a minor quibble, as one issue for national cultural policy is the role of digital media. If the staff administering the Arts portfolio cannot format an electronic document correctly, they may not be equipped to understand how this technology is impacting on Australian cultural industries.

Digital Culture in the Discussion Paper

The paper makes the point that "More than 70 per cent of the Australian population have access to
the internet.", also that:
"Emerging technologies present opportunities for Indigenous communities to use new media to present their art, language and culture to wider audiences and to enable traditional cultural practices to be transmitted to future generations."
Opportunities for Education Industry in Digital Culture

The report also makes the point that Australia has a relatively well educated population and "Australia needs to encompass this audience whose expectations of opportunity and access are sophisticated and high.". However, the report fails to make the point that the relationship between education and cultural content is not one way: cultural materials for education is a multi-billion dollar industry which Australia is well equipped to take part in. As more education moves out of the classroom and onto the Internet the opportunities will increase. Addressing this market will also ensure Australia keeps its international student market and the export income they provide.

Table of Contents of the Discussion Paper
  1. Message from the Minister
  2. Introduction
  3. Background
  4. The National Cultural Policy – developing a vision for Australia's future
  5. Australia in the 21st century – some additional context

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