Culture is currently part of the broader socio-economic field of the development of society. Thus, cultural policies should be aimed at the comprehensive development of this area in a global context. This essay analyzes the South Australia Arts and Culture Plan 2019-2024 in terms of the effectiveness of cultural policy in supporting the culture and arts of the region. I will examine aspects of economic structure, local culture support, global outreach, investment opportunities, and creative industry in the region to show what points of the policy can be improved. I will discuss these concepts in relation to the South Australia Arts and Culture Plan 2019-2024, focusing on its strengths and weaknesses. I argue that this policy can be improved through a greater focus on global outreach, efforts to develop an economically self-sustaining creative industry, and a greater focus on elite cultural forms.
Theoretical Framework for Analysis of the Policy
Modern developed countries need to stimulate various spheres of society to support sustainable development. One of the areas of focus for the government is culture, which is inextricably linked to the cultural identity and the economic prosperity of the country. The development of cultural and creative industries allows for attracting tourists and visitors, as well as stimulating the economic growth of territories through funding (Mittang, 2013). Cultural events and preservation of local creative traditions are currently not only a way for developed countries to maintain cultural identity but also to boost economic development. It is also important that the transformation and development of cultural infrastructures allow countries and cities to acquire increased prestige in the global arena, which is also a significant advantage (Mittang, 2013). Thus, the modern developed economy needs to support culture and creative industries as one of the aspects of economic sustainability.
However, in contrast to other sectors of the economy, which can build their economy on the exchange of goods and services according to existing demand, creative industries need government involvement for initial development. Kaymas (2020) underlines that “cultural and creative industries are not self-sustaining or self-sufficient economic organizations” (p. 73). Thus, these industries need special policies that can support cultural development to bring benefits to society. Craik et al. (2010) note that in a globalized world, culture has become the same object of commodification as other spheres of society. In particular, the current volume of exchange of cultural goods and services has increased significantly over the past decades and is dominated by a limited number of developed countries. Gray (2007) also suggests considering cultural policies in terms of the broader general public good. At the same time, the researchers emphasize that “globalization takes different forms and has diverse effects across different cultural sectors” (Craik et al., 2010, p. 19). Thus, the different sectors of the cultural and creative industries have different economic impacts, which constitutes a challenge for the government in policy-making.
In addition to generating economic resources, the government can use cultural policies for other purposes. Gray (2007) identifies that the government can use cultural and arts policies for purposes ranging from promoting national prestige to trying to maintain control and order in society. In this regard, the researcher notes that modern cultural policies are instrumental in nature, which defines them as a means of achieving certain goals in other areas, including political, economic, or social (Gray, 2007). Gray (2007) and Craik et al. (2010) emphasize that due to the change in the scope of culture under the influence of globalization, the purpose of cultural policies has transformed significantly. In particular, today, the content of such policies is of paramount importance to meet the needs of the government rather than the broader society.
Products of cultural and creative industries are part of the process of commodification and are also actively involved in the modern global trade of goods and services. Gray (2007) states that “it is predicted that there will be an increasing emphasis on the benefits of public policies for individual consumers at the expense of the broader social collectivity” (p. 210). Craik et al. (2010) support this view by arguing that modern international relations require governments to increase the production and consumption of culture.
Despite this, within the framework of cultural policies, it is necessary to focus not only on mainstream culture but also on elite niche products such as opera, theater, avant-garde, and traditional art, and others. This aspect also constitutes a challenge for governments in policy-making, as they need to balance the need to reap economic benefits while supporting cultural sectors that require constant funding. Thus, cultural policies in the modern context involve the combination of the global and the local within the framework of the development of culture. In modern Australia, there is also an active trend towards the transformation of methods of investment and income, which also shifts the focus of the public in relation to art and culture (A New Approach (ANA), 2021). At the moment, many people are getting more opportunities to participate in the consumption of various types of art, which also requires their diversification. This is especially relevant for young Australians, who, thanks to digital technologies, can participate much more actively in the development of culture.
Globally, contemporary culture is seen as a self-sustainable industry, and governments tend to invest in infrastructure rather than individual products. At the same time, global trends require the development of popular types of culture (cinema, pop music, festivals, etc.), and not more sophisticated forms that are less popular with the general public (Craik et al., 2010). In this regard, there is a tension between the need for an industrial economic approach to culture and more traditional forms of policy-making aimed at the preservation of national cultural heritage. Thus, cultural policies should be aimed at both generating global outreach and preserving the local cultural characteristics of the country.
Modern cultural policies are aimed at developing infrastructure for the effective growth of economically self-sufficient cultural and creative clusters. Scott (2006), in the context of creative cities, states that “multifaceted processes of contact and interchange are a critical factor in the generation of new ideas, sensitivities, and insights in industrial agglomerations” (p. 8). As part of the promotion of culture and art, information sharing is the basis for the active growth of the creative environment, both from a traditional and industrial perspective. Scott (2006) emphasizes that a feature of cultural clusters is the hybridization of industrial and social forms of interaction. In other words, modern cultural policies are aimed at both the production of cultural products and the integration of the community into this process. Combining the maintenance of the national cultural heritage with the need for its global promotion becomes possible thanks to the creation of a network of industrial institutions and public engagement.
Cultural policies, in addition to developing the economy and strengthening global integration, aim to improve access to culture. In particular, modern policymakers should focus on the possibility of democratizing culture for society, which is extremely relevant for the Australian context (Rosenstein, 2018). A report by A New Approach (ANA) (2021) emphasizes that the problem of limited access to culture and art is especially acute in regional and remote areas, which requires special policies in this context. This means that cultural policies should be designed to give opportunity for “everyone to participate in cultural activities of their own choosing” (Rosenstein, 2018, p. 66). In particular, such activities should contribute to strengthening the sense of shared identity, promoting public engagement, as well as equal distribution of cultural values in society.
However, this goal also depends on the stage of development and existence of culture within a certain country, which requires consideration of the specific national context. In particular, according to Rosenstein (2018), cultural policies must meet the objectives of the preservation, development, or democratization of culture. The researcher also notes that these tasks are not sequential and are interconnected (Rosenstein, 2018). For example, granting excessively wide access to certain cultural properties may pose a threat to their conservation. Excessive democratization can also negatively affect the commercial opportunities of certain cultural activities and hinder their development. Thus, cultural policies should take into account the needs of a particular cultural sector and its current state so as not to have a negative effect on inadequate measures.
Thus, on the basis of the studies reviewed, it is possible to form a number of criteria that cultural policy must meet in order to be effective in the modern world. First of all, cultural policy should be aimed at creating infrastructure for the development of an economically self-sustainable creative industry. Secondly, cultural policy should seek a balance between the promotion of national culture and global outreach. Thirdly, the government should focus on both popular culture and elite culture in order to find a balance between sources and recipients of funding. Fourthly, cultural policies should be designed taking into account their impact on other areas, including political, social, and economic, as well as the relevant context. Finally, cultural policy should consider the current goals and conditions of a particular cultural sector and not hinder its potential development.
South Australia Arts and Culture Plan 2019-2024 Analysis
South Australia Arts and Culture Plan 2019-2024 provides guidelines for the growth of the cultural and creative sector in South Australia through investment promotion. It has six interrelated goals that are aimed at the development of art activities and support of local creators (Arts & Culture Plan South Australia 2019 – 2024, n.d):
- Promotion of the role of culture in enriching the lives of citizens;
- Empowerment of South Australia’s creators;
- Promotion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander;
- Amplifying South Australia’s cultural strengths;
- Enhancing physical and organizational infrastructure;
- Advocacy of future investments and government support.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The most significant strength of this cultural policy is its structure and content. South Australia Arts and Culture Plan 2019-2024 have a set of goals, which “have equal weighting, are interrelated and not presented in hierarchical order” (Arts & Culture Plan South Australia 2019 – 2024, n.d, p. 5). This approach to the formation of the basis of the plan allows you to take into account the current needs of various sectors and apply relevant activities for them, which is consistent with the information provided by Rosenstein (2018). Appropriate management under the plan will allow the government to provide adequate support to the various creative sectors.
The second significant advantage of the plan is the active integration of modern digital technologies and the promotion of new areas of art, including electronic music and digital visual art. At the same time, much attention is paid to the maintenance and promotion of cultural heritage, as well as local traditional art. This balance between preserving the old and promoting the new allows the plan to focus on preserving South Australia’s unique identity. This policy allows for the active integration of national art into more modern types of creative activities. It is also important that the cultural policy is aimed at the development of various types of art, including fine, performing, and traditional arts.
As noted, for modern cultural policies, the impact on other areas, including economic, social, and political, is significant. South Australia Arts and Culture Plan 2019-2024 primarily aims to maintain the reputation of South Australia as a cultural center, which positively affects the prestige of the region and potential economic growth. The policy also includes the active involvement of educational institutions in the promotion of the culture and arts of South Australia through collaboration with museums, universities, archives, etc. (Arts & Culture Plan South Australia 2019 – 2024, n.d). Finally, the plan supports regional cultural initiatives, including organizations that focus on narrow regional audiences. For example, the active engagement of government, investors, philanthropists, and audiences has helped to sustain the “theatre for a village audience of young people and adults aged eight and up” (Arts & Culture Plan South Australia 2019 – 2024, n.d, p. 33). Thus, cultural policy contributes to the support of regional initiatives, as well as to the expansion of citizens’ access to culture and its democratization.
Among the weaknesses of the plan, one can note the approach to the development of creative infrastructure, as well as the strategy of economic support and funding. The fifth goal of the cultural policy is aimed at “to enhance the physical and organizational arts and culture infrastructure in South Australia” (Arts & Culture Plan South Australia 2019 – 2024, n.d, p. 36). However, activities within this goal imply the development of infrastructure for audience access to cultural objects and not the creation of a creative network or cluster. Thus, the plan as it stands is unlikely to contribute to the creation of a self-sustainable cultural industry in South Australia. The sixth goal of the plan to enhance collaboration and partnerships for future investment in culture is related to this potential weakness as well. The plan involves the development of cooperation and partnership between the government and the community to support funding and development of the cultural sector. However, this also does not imply the development of a self-sustainable industry that could produce cultural products and subsist on its consumers.
Another weakness of this policy that can be identified is the focus on local development rather than global integration. While the plan is intended to uphold South Australia’s prestige as a national cultural hub, it does not offer approaches to expand international integration. Although the cultural policy suggests the active development of local criteria for collaboration at the international level, it does not specify how global communication can be ensured. Finally, the policy places more emphasis on traditional and popular art, which may be relevant to regional initiatives. However, it is also important for contemporary cultural policies to pay attention to elitist art forms such as theater or opera in order to provide a variety of forms.
The main recommendation to increase the effectiveness of the South Australia Arts and Culture Plan 2019-2024 is the need for a greater focus on global collaboration. While this cultural policy is primarily aimed at supporting local arts, it does not imply a comprehensive plan to strengthen the culture of the region at the international level. Appropriate measures should be included in the policy to organize the participation of local creative people in various global events outside of Australia. This approach will first of all draw more attention to the culture and art of the region, as well as provide broader investment opportunities. The focus of cultural policy, as noted, should be the balance between global and local culture. Currently, the South Australia Arts and Culture Plan 2019-2024 emphasizes local rather than international development.
Another important direction for the transformation of cultural policy is the need for greater attention to the formation of the creative industry rather than the support of individual creators. In particular, as part of the South Australia Arts and Culture Plan 2019-2024, it is necessary to create an economically self-sufficient cultural cluster. At the moment, the policy is aimed at attracting investments and developing individual local creators. Although the plan involves the interaction of cultural actors for their exchange of experience and joint activities, they do not form an industry. The South Australia Arts and Culture Plan 2019-2024 should be developed more towards the economic self-sustainability of the creative sector. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to focus on more commercially active areas, including the production and consumption of cultural products and services.
Finally, the least significant but also useful recommendation is to pay more attention to the elite culture sector. Currently, the plan provides for the support of local and popular areas, while such areas as academic theater, opera, and classical music are left without attention. This direction would allow South Australia to attract a more diverse audience while also diversifying its investment opportunities. Additionally, the active development of this direction would help in more efficient access to the global market of cultural products and services to increase the international prestige of the region.
The South Australia Arts and Culture Plan 2019-2024 is a cultural policy well designed to support the culture and arts of the region. However, the analysis identified a number of weaknesses in the plan that could hinder its effectiveness. Based on a review of the literature, it has been possible to formulate a number of recommendations that can make this policy more comprehensive. Among them is a focus on the development of an economically self-sufficient creative industry, greater global interaction, and the development of elite cultural areas. These measures can positively influence the creation of a competitive creative industry in the region, which could become part of the global economic and social context.
A New Approach (ANA). (2021). Twenty-first century priorities for Australian arts and culture policy. A New Approach (ANA).
Arts & Culture Plan South Australia 2019 – 2024. (n.d). Government of South Australia.
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