The Digital Culture Public Sphere

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011 @ 1:30PM

On 11th August 2011 Minister for the Arts, Simon Crean, released a discussion paper seeking public input into the National Cultural Policy. This consultation will help to determine a 10 year strategic vision to ensure our arts, cultural and creative endeavours resonate with a 21st century, globally competitive, internationally celebrated and culturally diverse Australia.

The Final Submission was submitted to the Minister on 21 October 2011.

UPDATE: you can browse the content from the day in the schedule below. We are adding notes and links for all talks.

The National Cultural Policy itself covers three major sectors:

  • traditional core arts such as opera, dance, theatre, literature, music, visual arts and craft,
  • creative industries such as games development, film, animation, media content, architecture, fashion, design & publishing,
  • cultural heritage such as the work done by cultural institutions (regional metro & national galleries, libraries, archives & museums) and Australia’s Indigenous culture.

The Office of Senator Kate Lundy in collaboration with the Office of Minister Simon Crean is running a Digital Culture Public Sphere consultation to look specifically at the digital arts and industries as well as opportunities for cultural institutions around digitisation, public engagement and collaboration.

This consultation will result in a submission that will be presented directly to the Minister as part of the broader National Cultural Policy consultation.

Minister Crean strongly supports the initiative:

“The Digital Culture Public Sphere consultation is a breakthrough exercise in bringing together ideas and projects, working them through and providing a rich base of information and pathways for Australia’s digital cultural challenges and opportunities. It will provide a valuable contribution to the National Cultural Policy Consultation which is an important opportunity to examine how the Australian Government should support arts and culture in the 21st century.”

“We are laying the foundations for the broad cultural arts and industries in Australia at a time when high speed broadband will provide a platform to use our cultural collections and creative skills for new applications, education and research services. I welcome contributions from the digital arts and industries as well as cultural institutions across Australia”.

Australia is ideally positioned for strong digital arts and industries in the global context, with a highly skilled sector, ubiquitous high speed broadband being rolled out, a high quality of life and our multicultural character. All these elements contribute to a unique creative and cultural footprint. Digital Culture is something for which Australia has an international reputation. Not surprisingly there are significant social and economic opportunities available through the creation of a strategic approach across the sector.

This Public Sphere consultation is being done in collaboration with the broader digital arts and industries community. The aim is to draw together expertise and diverse ideas from individuals and organisations right across the digital arts and industry spectrum, and from all around Australia.

We look forward to your participation in this important piece of policy development, whether online or in person.

If you want to be kept up to date with progress of the consultation, please register for the Live Event either as a Regular Attendee or as an Online Participant, as we will email updates to those lists.

For more information about the Digital Culture Public Sphere please see below including how you contribute. Or you can contact the Public Sphere Coordinator, Pia Waugh on 0400966453

How to Contribute to the Consultation:

  • Wiki: Edit the draft submission directly by going to the Digital Culture Public Sphere wiki.
  • Blog: Post comments, links to papers, case studies and ideas to the comments below – which will then be summarised and presented at the event as part of the proceedings.
  • Twitter: Tweet with #publicsphere so we can find your ideas, collate and include them as part of the feedback.
  • Facebook: Post your ideas on the Facebook page at
  • Email or snail mail: You can also contribute to the topic by emailing or sending us a letter, but please note all topic correspondence will be published here on the topic blog for public transparency and peer review.
  • Run a roundtable: Run your own discussion or roundtable event and post the outcomes here in the comments.
  • Live Event: Join us for our Live Event (Sydney), which will be video streamed online so you can participate remotely. Please register to reserve a spot because spaces are limited to the venue capacity. Please see the full schedule below
  • Live Streaming: You can watch the Live Event remotely and participate in the online discussions on the day through
  • Video: Submit a (maximum) 10 minute talk by video submission by adding a link to the comments at the bottom of this post.
  • Endorse: Endorse the ideas that you think are most important, ideas will be put into an endorsement system from the 6th October till the 20th October and will be linked here.

Outcomes and the Consultation Framework:

All contributions to the Public Sphere – including the talks and discussions at the event – will be collated into a draft submission including the ideas put forward through the comments on this blog, Tweets to the #publicsphere hashtag, posts on the Facebook page, comments on the wiki, talks and live-blogging. The draft briefing paper is on the wiki and will be publicly editable until the 15th October. The briefing paper is then finalised, published online and then presented to Minister Crean before the 21st October.

The final submission will directly reflect the vision and ideas of the participants.

The consultation approach aligns closely with the National Cultural Policy discussion paper, incorporating specified by Minister Crean in his introduction, as well as ideas about the digital components of each of the policy goals defined in the discussion paper background.

  1. A vision and success for the different sectors of the digital cultural landscape, and then ideas for how to reach each goal. Participants are encouraged to consider areas such as skills development, funding & entrepreneurialism, new opportunities, existing challenges, emerging business models and technologies, the current state of each area, public access & participation and case studies that showcase excellence in each area:
    • Games development
    • Film & Animation
    • Media & Music
    • Digital Arts
    • Cultural Institutions (GLAMs) looking at opportunities for collaboration, digitisation, access and public engagement in cultural heritage
  2. The Big Picture, the role that arts and culture can play in meeting Australian aspirations and what success would look like for digital culture in Australia:
    • To ensure that what the government supports – and how this support is provided – reflects the diversity of a 21st Century Australia, and protects and supports Indigenous culture.
    • To encourage the use of emerging technologies and new ideas that support the development of new artworks and the creative industries, and that enable more people to access and participate in arts and culture.
    • To support excellence and world-class endeavour, and strengthen the role that the arts play in telling Australian stories both here and overseas.
    • To increase and strengthen the capacity of the arts to contribute to our society and economy.

Target Audience for the Public Sphere:

  1. Digital Arts & Industries – games development communities and companies, film, music, media, animation, data visualisation communities, augmented reality communities, a broad representation of industry, creatives and community.
  2. Cultural institutions including regional, metro and national galleries, libraries archives and museums – specifically looking at digital cultural assets, online engagement & access initiatives so facilitate public engagement with our culturally diverse heritage and generating ideas for how cultural institutions can collaborate.

The Public Sphere Methodology

Conversations (weeks 1-5)

In this phase:

  • the consultation is launched as a blog with a corresponding wiki and Twitter hashtag (#publicsphere),
  • the blog is promoted throughout identified communities of interest and participants are encouraged to comment on the blog, wiki and on established social media networks (all to be collated for the consultation),
  • the Live Event creates the opportunity for discussion time to share and develop ideas. The Live Event is live streamed over the internet for public discussion and peer review,
  • the community is encouraged to run focused roundtables with their sector to contribute to the Consultation and to participate in the discussions online during the Live Event.

Consolidation & Submission (weeks 6-7)

In this phase:

  • all input collated is published in one place (on a wiki) for public review along with a draft submission paper based on the input for public feedback,
  • after the Live Event the ideas are all put into an endorsement system for quality assurance,
  • the wiki is closed on October 15th and submission is finalised and published online,
  • the submission is then presented to the Minister prior to the 21st October for consideration and the participating community contributions are recognised through a public thanks.

The Digital Culture Public Sphere Live Event

The Live Event will be on October 6th in the Sydney CBD. Details are being confirmed and will be announced on this blog in the coming week. To reserve a place at the event, please register. Please note that this event will be live streamed online so anyone from around Australia can participate in the discussions, and give their feedback on the ideas presented on the day.

Please note that contributions made to the consultation prior to the 6th October will be consolidated and presented to the Live Event as part of the schedule to feed into the discussions, so please contribute your ideas before then!

Date: 6th October 2011
Time: 0900 – 1700
Location: The NSW Teacher Federation Conference Centre, 37 Reservoir Street Surry Hills NSW 2010. Limited parking available, short walk from Central Station and buses.
RSVP: Either as a Regular Attendee if you want to participate in person, or as an Online Participant if you want to be kept up to date with announcements. Register at

The Live Event Schedule

Speakers to be announced closer to the date so stay tuned. Please note, all talks will be designed to stimulate discussion.

0900 Welcome and introduction to Public Sphere and process Senator Kate Lundy
Session 1: Defining a vision for different sectors
0920 Short talks – one for each sector
* Games Development
* Film & Animation
* Cultural Media & Music
* Digital Arts
* Cultural Institutions
* Ron Curry (iGEA) [speech notes]
* Matthew Deaner (Screen Australia) [slides]
* John Wardle [discussion paper]
* Paul Wallbank [blog of speech]
* Tim Hart (Museum of Victoria) [slides]
1010 Split into sectors to discuss vision and what successful implementation would look like
1045 Morning Tea and continue discussions
1115 Brief report back from tables on their discussions on vision and success
Session 2: Ideas for how to get there
1155 Short talks – one for each sector
* Games Development
* Film & Animation
* Cultural Media & Music
* Digital Arts
* Cultural Institutions
* Paul Callaghan [video presentation]
* Dr Paul Brock (NSWDEC, Sydney Uni) [speech notes]
* Craig Wilson (Sticky Ads) [blog of speech notes]
* Caitlin Vaughan (ICE) [video]
* Suse Cairns (University of Newcastle) [blog of speech]

Please note, Dr Brock stepped in for Greg Hall (Producer of Lockout). We will post Greg’s video as soon as it is available.
1245 Address from Minister Simon Crean [speech notes]
1300 Split into sectors and discuss ideas for how to achieve your vision, using themes below as guide:
* Existing Challenges – the current state of play.
* Local excellence – training, entrepreneurialism, talent and skills development.
* Funding & Support – R&D, startups, skills devel+B10, funding.
* New Opportunities – emerging business models & technologies, public access and participation.
1330 Lunch and continue discussions
1400 Brief report from tables on their discussions on ideas to achieve the vision – reports viewable in livestream captured video
Session 3: The role that arts and culture can play in meeting Australian aspirations & what success would look like for each goal
1430 Short talks – one for each goal
* To ensure that what the government supports – and how this support is provided – reflects the diversity of a 21st Century Australia, and protects and supports Indigenous culture.
* To encourage the use of emerging technologies and new ideas that support the development of new artworks and the creative industries, and that enable more people to access and participate in arts and culture.
* To support excellence and world-class endeavour, and strengthen the role that the arts play in telling Australian stories both here and overseas.
* To increase and strengthen the capacity of the arts to contribute to our society and economy.
Speakers:All afternoon talks are available on the captured livestream video.
* Lisa Havilah (CarriageWorks)* Gavin Artz (ANAT) [slides]* Tony Moore (Monash University) [speech notes, [slides]]* Elliot Bledsoe (Australian Council for the Arts) [slides]
1510 Split into groups (cross sector if possible) to discuss the vision of each goal.
1540 Afternoon Tea and continue discussions
1610 Brief report back from each group on vision, success and ideas for each goal for The Big Picture and opportunity any last thoughts to share with the consultation.
1630 Wrapup and Close Senator Kate Lundy


Finally, an enormous thank you to our sponsors for their support in running the Digital Culture Public Sphere Live Event:

Google AustraliaGoogle Australia

Google’s search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day and its targeted advertising program provides businesses of all sizes with measurable results. Our Sydney office is a central hub for Google in developing innovative products and partnering with Aussie businesses to help them take advantage of the digital economy. With over 500 employees, Australia has produced exciting global projects like: Chrome, Maps, Docs & App Engine. We were voted BRW’s Best Place to Work in 2009 and 2011.


iGEA is an industry association representing Australian and New Zealand companies in the computer and video game industry. Our members publish, market and/or distribute interactive games and entertainment content.

Screen Australia

Screen Australia is the key government agency supporting the development of a creative, innovative and commercially sustainable Australian screen production industry. Screen Australia offers funds for the development, production and marketing of Australian screen content, as well as for the development of Australian talent and screen production businesses.

Cisco SystemsCisco

Cisco Systems, Inc. is the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet. Today, networks are an essential part of business, education, government and home communications, and Cisco Internet Protocol-based (IP) networking solutions are the foundation of these networks. Cisco hardware, software, and service offerings are used to create Internet solutions that allow individuals, companies, and countries to increase productivity, improve customer satisfaction and strengthen competitive advantage. The Cisco name has become synonymous with the Internet, as well as with the productivity improvements. At Cisco, our vision is to change the way people work, live, play and learn.

Adobe Australia

We help our customers create and deliver compelling content and applications as well as fully realise their business potential. Together we’re turning engaging digital experiences into more valuable interactions every day — across media and devices, anywhere, anytime. Adobe helps customers create highly compelling content, deliver it across diverse media and devices, and then optimise it through systematic targeting and measurement. Only Adobe offers this complete spectrum of capabilities, providing a critical competitive edge in today’s ever-changing media landscape.

In-Kind Software Sponsors


Leximancer is the latest in text analytics software, allowing powerful insights to be discovered automatically from electronic text in an unbiased way. Leximancer supports the Digital Culture Consultation by providing analytic services to derive insights from the  submissions. Leximancer: From words to meaning to insight.


Palantir Technologies is working to radically change how groups analyze information. We were founded in 2004 by a handful of PayPal alumni and Stanford computer scientists. Since then we’ve doubled in size every year while retaining our early-stage values: a startup culture, strong work ethic, and rigorous hiring standards. We currently offer two products: Palantir Government and Palantir Finance. Both are platforms for integrating, visualizing, and analyzing the world’s information. We support many kinds of data including structured, unstructured, relational, temporal, and geospatial. Our products are built for real analysis with a focus on security, scalability, ease of use, and collaboration.

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    25 Comments to "The Digital Culture Public Sphere" add comment
    Tom Worthington
    September 7, 2011 at 10:18 am

    The Digital Culture Public Sphere is an excellent idea and I have signed up to attend in person. One topic I would like to discuss is support for Australian authors on-line.

    Yesterday I was contacted by an award winning Australian author asking about how to publish their new book on-line (I publish educational books on-line). They do not particularly want to make a lot of money, they mostly want to get there book out there.

    Submissions have been invited for a Review of the operation and vision of Review of Electronic Resources Australia (ERA) by 12 September 2011. ERA is a consortia of Australian libraries, headed by the National Library of Australia, which buys on-line information services, mostly from overseas sources.

    I suggest that Australian libraries and educational institutions should look at how to foster on-line publishing, including free and open access, as a way to reduce costs (as well as boost Australian culture and commerce).

    At present what happens is that the government funds Australian academics and other authors to write material, which is then published overseas. Australian libraries and educational institutions then have to spend money to buy copies of the material from the overseas publishers. It would seem to make more sense to provide a way for the publishing to be done in Australia.

    September 9, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    One thing which might bring a few creative ideas and jobs into the mainstream is “formalizing” the Digital public sphere and its processes. As it is a public inquiry, all the various data, captured by all sorts of online services, must, if it was run by a parliamentary committee, be kept.

    We seem to have this disconnect between most parliaments and their constituents that although they will fund “research” forever, the idea of renovating their own antiquated inquiry process appears an alien concept. So all we end up doing is generating reports which a parliment’s inhabitants, and therefore the agencies which implement “our will”, have no means of implementing. It is a separation in cultures, which this inquiry can only illustrate.

    Tom points out one corruption – double dipping in the public purse – created by the new publishing paradigm. In the area of governance it also has an effect. Policy can never keep up with new practice.

    So far as offering something which may have a tangible effect. We know that one of the principles of digital revolution is “user centric”. This come down to all citizens having access to various online services. We have the beginnings of this with the aaf.

    We also have a project called ands that attempts to “create the infrastructure to enable Australian researchers to easily publish, discover, access and use research data”.

    Both lack the breadth to “enable Australian citizens”. Perhaps we could fund a project which would include some creative digitarians who can think, and act, outside their institutionalized culture.

    Marghanita da Cruz
    September 22, 2011 at 8:55 am

    The digitisation of government material and its provision online is progressing well.

    However, in the course of publishing a book 1890s Annandale: A short Walk (more about the book at recently, I experienced a diversity of responses to the reproduction and of images on websites, in E-Books and printed books.

    An Action Plan for the Harmonisation of policies for the use of Digital images across agencies at all levels of government would be useful.

    Online publication of commissioned heritage studies for government projects, as a matter of course, would also be useful.

    The National Library of Australia has provided invaluable leadership in this space. Trove and its predecessor Newspapers online provide great insight into the past.

    The NSW State Library’s release of images through Creative Commons License recently is also commendable and provided useful material in enhancing the Annandale to Circular Quay, Sydney walk with historic images. Walk is available here


    Bill Nethery
    September 22, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    I collaboration with Parramatta City Council, the Heritage Branch of the (now) Office of Environment and Heritage has been a pioneer in the use of hand-held digital media in heritage interpretation. The ‘DigiMacq’ app has opened public access to the significance of Parramatta’s heritage sites in a revolutionary way.

    And yet … although the Heritage Branch has more than 1600 heritage places listed on the NSW State Heritage Register and is thus an important stakeholder in the public appreciation of their significance, we are not a “cultural institution” and, so, seem to be excluded from encouraging programs of the kind you are launching here.

    How do we get on your radar?

    Pia Waugh
    September 22, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Hi Bill,

    As the blog post defines, we are certainly interested in cultural heritage at a local, state and national level and we are certainly trying to engage you all as best we can :) To date we have written a post on Museum3, sent emails onto various mailing lists (CAMD, CAAMD, Archivists, ALIA, CAN and a few more) and tried asking around various people and organisations all around Australia to help get the word out. We are only a week or so in, so it is still early days. It would be wonderful if you could help spread the word so we can get a strong diverse represenation of digital voices from cultural institutions, organisations and of course all the digital arts, industries and heritage sectors right across Australia :) With regards to your case study, please post some more information and we’ll include it in the submission as a case study. It sounds very exciting!

    Many thanks for getting in touch,

    Pia Waugh
    Digital Culture Public Sphere Coordinator

    Gavin Artz
    September 30, 2011 at 11:54 am

    The slow death of the cultural cringe in Australia has coincided with the birth and growth of digital culture. In many ways our modern, confident Australian culture grew up digital. Unlike many parts of the world we are completely at home in this world – it is a native medium for us.

    This has meant that we are a leading nation for digital culture and with this position comes a responsibility. We are developing a vibrant living culture not only for us, but also something significant for the world. This is why I feel it is important for us to be involved in shaping our digital future.

    Gavin Artz
    Australian Network for Art and Technology

    Catherine Shirley
    October 2, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    I am wondering why the National Culture Policy doesn’t include Education? Education intersects with all three of the fields mentioned and underpins cultural comprehension. It is also a large user of Digital Culture and needs to be considered not only within this consultation but also within any outcomes that may result.

    Pia Waugh
    October 3, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Hi Catherine,

    The 3rd and 4th goals outlined in the NCP are 3) To support excellence and world-class endeavour, and strengthen the role that the arts play in telling Australian stories both here and overseas & 4) To increase and strengthen the capacity of the arts to contribute to our society and economy. Both of these include the importance of education and skills development for the arts, creative industries and cultural institutions. We are certainly interested in people sharing their thoughts on education and skills development for the Digital Culture Public Sphere and we have several people already contributing thoughts on this. It is also worth noting that Arts is included in the National Curriculum being developed and only in August 2011 the paper “Shape of the Australian Curriculum: The Arts” was released so please check out the Arts curriculum schedule and documents for the National Curriculum here

    Pia Waugh
    Digital Culture Public Sphere Coordinator
    IT Policy Advisor to Senator Kate Lundy

    Tom Worthington
    October 3, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    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.

    More at:

    Charlotte Galloway
    October 4, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    I’m pleased to see the issue of ‘education’ brought forward. Having worked in a major cultural institution,I now lecture in Art History and Curatorial Studies. Communication is nearly ALL digital, and developing ways of enhancing engagement with art/culture/heritage through digital formats is, in my opinion, the way forward. Getting people to engage with the arts and heritage through digital formats requires considered input in terms of relevance and presentation of information – and this all costs time and money!
    I also agree with the comment above about the marketing opportunities – has great potential.

    Dr Tony Moore
    October 5, 2011 at 6:34 am

    Dear Friends

    Please see below an extract from my recent article stemming from research into Australian creative risk takers and government policy interventions enabling ideas and aesthetics developed in the fringe to cross over into popular culture. The article, Wanted: Cultural Entrepreneurs. Ideas for Labor’s National Cultural Policy, can be read in full via the Australian Fabian journal at:

    and here are some extracts
    …. even as competitor nations such as Britain have embraced the notion of ‘creative industries’ as vital to diverse value-added exports, arts policy in Australia suffers from an over emphasis on the nineteenth century romantic ‘artist hero’ concept of cultural production, according to which the creator’s talent is the font of creation.

    This approach uncritically divides ‘the arts’ off from other cultural production and the market, when in reality practitioners move between so-called ‘high’ or ‘avant-garde’ and popular practice. It also ignores social, media and market contexts for cultural production, especially the role of passionate audiences as participants in the creation of artistic meaning, as fans or critics producing DIY subcultural styles and media such as ‘zines’. Writers such as Peter Carey and Frank Moorhouse began publishing in counter-cultural literary journals. Small independent or university publishers and performers such as Barry Humphries, Nick Cave or The Chaser have moved back and forth in their careers from fringe to mass market just as they move across media forms. Likewise, Australian arts policy emphasises vocational training for the artist. It tends to ignore the less tangible social contexts conducive to experimentation and creative risk-taking such as cosmopolitan inner city communities, independent media spaces at universities, or access to new technology, especially fast, reliable broadband.

    My doctoral research into Australia’s Bohemian Tradition revealed a productive engagement with the market by bohemian and avant-garde artists going back to the nineteenth century. Over the past century and a half, the move from fringe to famous was charted by iconoclasts as diverse as writers Marcus Clarke and Henry Lawson;Bulletin editor J.F. Archibald; visual artists such as the ‘Heidelberg School’, Norman Lindsay and Thea Proctor; poets such as Kenneth Slessor; cultural critics Max Harris, Robert Hughes, and Germaine Greer; satirists like Barry Humphries; playright David Williamson; filmmakers such as Bruce Beresford, Peter Weir and Tim Burstall; and rock bands like Daddy Cool and Skyhooks.

    Aesthetic innovation honed in the bohemian space of independent publications, artists communities, inner urban precincts, film collectives, experimental theatre and the inner urban music scene was smuggled into commercial popular culture. These artists invigorated commercial cultural industries and also appealed to mass and niche audiences enthusiastic to consume the ‘authenticity’ these artists signified. Romantic claims by artists to have created their works free of market imperatives badges their cultural products as ‘authentic’, and this ironically confers great value in the middle class marketplace where many consumers seek the distinction of categories like ‘avant-garde’, ‘alternative’, ‘underground’ or ‘indie’.

    Outreach to bring the work of alternative artists to both niche and mainstream audiences has hinged on the active role of cultural entrepreneurs moving between sectors and often changing independent, commercial and public cultural industries. Examples include J. F. Archibald, Keith Murdoch, John and Sunday Reed, Max Harris, Mary Alice Evatt, Gordon Barton, Richard Walsh, John Iremonger and Phillip Adams. Government reforms can act to bring creative projects from the fringe to popular audiences, such as the introduction of a film bank (the Australian Film Development Corporation) by the Gorton Government, and the releasing of FM community-based licenses such as 3RRR and 4ZZZ and the creation of Double Jay by Whitlam Government Communications Minister Moss Cass.

    Crucially, audiences (e.g., as a community of fans and subcultures) and not just ‘artists’ contribute to the value of art, especially when it is first being developed within fringe markets. At certain times, the confluence of social and institutional supports for bohemian subcultures, commercial and public sector outreach to alternative arts practitioners, and portals enabling audience participation as a community, led to periods connecting artistic achievement, popular audiences, and national-self expression. We see examples in literature, journalism, cartooning and painting in the 1890s, in modern visual art mid-century, and in cinema and literary publishing in the 1970s.

    Since the 1980s, there has been an increasingly fertile crossover between ‘alternative’ arts practice and popular culture industries. The mainstream market itself has become a delta, fragmenting into an array of style-based youth subcultures and identity movements and a proliferation of ‘do-it-yourself’ independent media initiatives, beginning with public access radio, multicultural television and ‘indie’ records in the 1980s, and proceeding through fanzines, community TV, affordable video and editing technology, and on to internet-based interactive websites, magazines, blogs, and social networking sites….

    …Fast, internationally competitive broadband is not really about downloading movies and videos, as the Coalition claims, but about the millions of uploads that are necessary for the successful operation of large and small business alike.Not the least of these are content producers operating in the creative economy, such as small TV production houses, but also there are doctors, teachers, meteorologists, scientists, and the farmers and‘tradies’ so beloved of governments.

    In seeking to dog whistle to luddites who he imagines infest the regions and outer suburbs of Australia, Tony Abbott once more risks the Liberal party’s economic credibility. It is like rejecting as a fad the telegraph in the 1860s or electricity in the early twentieth century. [Do you mean ‘School of the Air’ after ‘Twitter’ or shift to after, say, ‘TV network’??: For content producers, self-curating their songs, satire, poetry or short stories on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter, the internet is the contemporary theatre, community hall, Mechanics Institute, or School of the Air , TV network, journal, radio and fanzine all rolled into one. But more is at stake than just economic growth. Fast, participatory broadband will set the stage for our national dreaming, just as did innovations in the press such as the Bulletin in the 1880s and in cinema in the 1970s.

    The Gillard Government’s decision to stay the course on the NBN is admirable, and its rhetoric of investment in ‘human capital’ gives us pause to hope that cultural enterprise will be encouraged as a driver of the economy….

    …Some Ideas for a National Cultural Policy
    One focus for government policy intervention should be the social, institutional and entrepreneurial innovations that have historically enabled a crossover between ‘alternative’ and mainstream commercial practices and the social contexts of creative production – including artistic bohemianism, student life and extra-curricula activities and infrastructure, youth subcultures, voluntary and paid work places, urban form, sexual and other identity groups, ethnic communities, professional associations, political movements and electronic social networks.
    In summary, important issues for government to consider in a new cultural policy are:

    • social infrastructure affected by government that enhance creative production, such as student and communityradio and newspapers; flexible liquor licenses and cheap inner-city rents;
    • the value-adding that audiences bring to niche and popular arts as fans or members of aesthetic subcultures (e.g., Goths) who interact with artists and their work;
    • how well artists and their work flow from the alternative to mainstream cultural markets at different periods over the last 20 years;
    • the use of new digital technologies, especially those using the internet, to create, broadcast and narrow-cast alternative content and to break down the barriers between producers and consumers by enabling audiences to shape and create art; and
    • what government and commercial actions have facilitated periods where artists emerging from alternative or avant-garde practice have found popular audiences…..

    Tony Moore, Monash University

    Geoff Barker
    October 8, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    I agree with Tony that the current parameters used to define‘Cultural Policy’ are perhaps overly informed by 20th century notions of the‘Arts. And that an Australian‘Cultural Policy needs to be more inclusive of those people who are currently perceived as being on the periphery, or outside of, the ‘artistic’ or ‘cultural’ sector.

    As such it should include within its brief the scientists, trades and craftspeople, and others who provide valuables links between art, industry, science and technology. Current collections and activities across the GLAM sector are not just about ‘art’ as many clearly have broader social, technological, and scientific justifications for acquiring collections and delivering services to the community.

    In Australia it appears as if modernist art critiques (built up in opposition to the crafts and guilds established in earlier periods) define our understanding of culture as the product of 20th century ‘art practice’.

    Current many GLAM sector collections and activities make it abundantly clear how important the crafts and trades, as well as the more classical arts and sciences, are to the development of innovative new technologies in Australia. While referring to areas that illustrate the practical application of arts (film, graphic design and creative industries) it could easily include the wide range of practitioners and enthusiasts who do not fall within the current definition of‘arts. Including the work of printers, film processors, craftspeople, software-engineers, scientists and the community generally.

    Marghanita da Cruz
    October 5, 2011 at 8:46 am

    By way of example, check out Eco-Annandale 2011. The Ecologically Sustainable Annandale Exhibitions were something I instigated in 2009. Eco-Annandale 2011, the fourth exhibition is on now at Leichhardt Library, Italian Forum, Norton Street until 29 October 2011.

    This year’s exhibition features works by 9 artists on the Theme of Water in Annandale.

    Leichhardt Library is a good venue which brings art to an audience who may not necessarily visit an Art Gallery. Without a public space, such as this, I would not be able to stage my exhibitions – which have an environmental education focus.

    Online Catalog is available here:

    Ellen Broad
    October 5, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    I’ve been following the Digital Culture Public Sphere discussions keenly, and am excited about the focus on opportunities for cultural institutions to move towards digitisation and greater online public engagement.

    The biggest problem for cultural institutions trying to digitise materials and innovate and collaborate online are orphan works – works where the copyright owner can’t be located. The pressure for cultural institutions to provide access to materials online is being met by an increasing number of actions brought by collecting societies and owner lobby groups for copyright infringement: the recent HathiTrust and Georgia State University actions being two examples. Most alarming about these actions and the current media coverage of digitisation efforts is the language around “abducting books”, “theft”, “violation of fundamental rights”, “largest copyright infringement in history” and even (in the HathiTrust action) calls for copies of works digitised by universities to be impounded! Within this negative environment cultural institutions are understandably fearful about putting materials online where the copyright holder can’t be located.

    Alongside this, there’s a push in Australia for an orphan works licensing scheme, whereby cultural institutions would pay fees to a collecting society to use works where the copyright holder can’t be located. This type of model is based on the worrying presumption that all copyright material has an economic value – from unidentified postcards, family photos and home movies to community pamphlets and local newsletters! Imagine a museum trying to amass i.e. an online exhibition of Australian rural holidays, as is their mandate and with no economic benefit, and having to pay fees for every otherwise free photo, map, postcard, journal entry and ticket stub to do so! And in addition to these costs, cultural institutions would also have to undertake a diligent search for owners for every work they wish to make available online before declaring them orphan works – requiring resources that cultural institutions do not possess.

    I’m really encouraged by the discussions being generated by the National Cultural Policy and Senator Lundy’s Digital Culture Public Sphere consultation, and look forward to a future of digital access and collaboration for our museums, libraries and galleries. Any progress, however, must first overcome the copyright challenges facing cultural institutions and which limit them from participating fully in the Digital Culture Public Sphere.

    Tom Worthington
    October 5, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Ellen Broad wrote October 5, 2011 at 1:00 pm:

    > … The biggest problem for cultural institutions trying to digitise materials and innovate and collaborate online are orphan works…

    While orphan works are important, I suggest libraries should concentrate on new works: there are more books yet to be written than have been written. It is much simpler for the cultural institutions to collect the cataloging and rights information for new works which they help authors create. In other woks I suggest libraries provide for free open access publishing.

    Tim Sherratt
    October 5, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    As someone who’s spent a number of years finding ways to extract and use data from our cultural institutions, I think we should stress that access in the digital realm means more than just discovery. Digital holdings, and most importantly the metadata describing them, need to be made available in ways that encourage experimentation.

    I gave a talk a while back in which I described the 3 (+1) wishes of an ‘impatient (digital) historian': let me play, let me connect, let me transform, and let me work with you. (See I think we need to move away from client/service models towards ones based on active collaboration and engagement around the collections themselves.

    Obviously there are technical, cultural and legal aspects involved in this. On the technical front, it’s worth checking out what’s happening with LOD-LAM (Linked Open Data in Libraries, Archives and Museums) – This work is gathering pace around the world and there’ll be a LOD-LAM meeting after the National Digital Forum in NZ soon.

    And for some recent examples of the sorts of things that a little cultural data hacking makes possible, see:

    Jude Anderson
    October 6, 2011 at 12:41 am

    We’re a tiny Victorian regionally based contemporary arts organisation. Despite limitations in data uploading and downloading, an increasing part of our active collaboration and engagement with artists and participants is on-line and is regional, national and international. Currently we’re collaborating on an on-line cultural initiative with Country Arts SA and regional artists spread nationally, as well as a project with artists in Delhi and Miami. We will be testing the limits of our varying on-line real-time capacities. Our website statistics reveal that beyond Australia a considerable and growing number of visitors download content from our web site from Canada, the USA, the UK, Belgium and the Philippines. We understand the National Cultural Policy is projected as an active policy for the next 10 years. We also understand that the roll out of the NBN will take 10 years. We are very excited about what the NBN will enable in cross cultural collaborations, professional practice and access for regional organisations, artists, communities and on-line participants. However it’s not clear what systems are in place to ensure that information is widely gathered on the change affected in the first instance by digital industry policy implementation in regional Australia. Nor is it clear, given the time differential between policy implementation and the 10 year projected NBN roll out, how new digital initiatives will be road tested or understood for what they affect in cultural engagement, professionalism and innovation in regional, rural and remote communities in Australia. We’re interested to know what the policy match is for this.

    Marghanita da Cruz
    October 6, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    A search on the National Library’s Trove website and a separate search on the National Sound and Film Archives website reveals an opportunity to use technology to provide better exposure to Collections.

    A Policy Framework that provides funding for innovation in Digitisation and propagation of innovations through other institutions, perhaps through exchange programs, cadetship, etc and withholds funding for reinvention of the wheel.

    Development of Open Source Software by Cultural Institutions, which would allow software and its development to be sharedby organisations would also help improve public access to collections.

    Trove would be such an innovation and funding could, for example, be made available to make the National Film and Sound Archive’s catalog available through Trove but not to enhance the current NFSA system independently.

    By way of example, currently, a search of HEROES’ FAIR AT ANNANDALE in Trove reveals
    The net proceeds of a village fair, which was held on Friday, amounting to about £550, are nearly sufficient to complete the sum of £1250, which it is desired to raise for the Annandale Heroes’ Memorial.”

    but not the following (though I have now added the following as a comment in trove – which enables crowd sourcing):

    Title No: 100748
    Title: HEROES’ FAIR AT ANNANDALE, NSW;adv=;group=;groupequals=;holdingType=;page=0;parentid=;query=annandale%20Decade%3A%221910-1919%22;querytype=;rec=0;resCount=10

    Processes to Digitise video and audio content for the Web would also be shared.

    Bronwyn Coupe NFSA
    October 16, 2011 at 9:49 pm


    I agree it would be great if a lot more of the records of cultural institutions could be found through Trove. A lot of NFSA’s collection will be found this way & also just picked up via search engines such as google. This will happen later this year when our new search facility is launched. But it’s not that easy & it couldn’t happen by ‘funding .. to make the National Film and Sound Archive’s catalog available through Trove but not to enhance the current NFSA system independently’ because it’s the way records are made available by the organisation that hosts them that enables TROVE to find them.

    And it would make a great case study to see what’s preventing the clip you want online. Haven’t had a chance to check out all the detail but copyright is one blocker – Paramount Pictures are very much still around. You can also see from the record that choices for digitising from are 35 mm film copy or 1″ video format – both (depending on the condition of the material) technically difficult and expensive.

    As per Prof John Quiggan’s report to government 2.) takforce found : ‘The report and accompanying technical paper found that most Australian cultural institutions have implemented their digitisation strategies as ‘unfunded mandates’

    Marghanita da Cruz
    October 7, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Further to previous comment, the Heroes Fair newspaper article and video clip could be collated with other information of the period.

    This webpage in the Anecdotal History of Annandale, currently includes links to the newspaper article and video clip entry, as well as a link to a video clip of fashions of the period from HuntleyFilmArchives, via Youtube at

    It would be a useful casestudy to know what the obstacles are to making the Heroes Faire Newsreel Clip available online.


    Ricardo Peach
    October 10, 2011 at 11:29 am

    I think one of the key recommendations from the digital arts roundtable I got was to create and fund a new interdisciplinary arts/science/tech organisation in Australia, not dissimilar to Banff in Canada, where artists/scientists/engineers/ etc can work together and experiment and create new languages around experimental work. Even misunderstandings/mistranslations can lead to the creation of great work in this ‘third space’.

    Also the expansion of the mandate of some of our current organisations such as ANAT and Symbiotica to become bigger organisations embracing a broader range of interdisciplinary practices, not just art/bio/tech, could be another option.

    Lastly the funding by government and industry of a national, experimental incubator/laboratory workshops, perhaps in a regional NBN hub such as Armidale, where a range of arts practitioners and creatives from various disciplines including filmmaking, game art, performance, engineering, programming etc can learn about the cultural space that is the digital sphere/NBN network, and think in new ways about how this networked space can be used innovatively, would be fantastic. To then have seed funding from government and industry to activate and realise some of the best ideas that come from this cultural incubator, would also be essential.

    Ensuring that the diversity of cultural expression from around Austalia is also embraced, would be essential.

    One key thing to keep in mind all the time with this is that process and learning takes time and we have to give artists and collaborators space to learn and ‘fail’ and try again, without expecting immediate cultural outcomes. Only if we allow this space will we continue to lead the world in the area of digital art.

    Ricardo Peach, Inter-Arts Office, Australia Council for the Arts

    Pia Waugh
    October 10, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Hi Ricardo, thanks for the great contribution. It looks like you’ve posted the same content in the wiki so thanks for that! Please keep an eye on the wiki as I’ll continue restructuring the information we receive to make it easy to read.

    Pia Waugh
    Digital Culture Public Sphere Coordinator

    Marghanita da Cruz
    October 18, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Hello Kate and Pia,

    With regard to
    # The Cultural Heritage category

    There is still a need to preserve some objects even after they have been digitised.

    Also, rather than just regional – perhaps we need a local-national nexus. In large cities, national and state institutions may be a long way a way. At the local level, Council operated libraries play an important role in the community and may be custodians of large collections, with which they may require help and skills development in preserving and making accessible both physically and digitally.


    Mary Anne Reid
    October 18, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    The Australian Copyright Council is a big supporter of the new opportunities opening up for the arts online. In particular, we are excited by the possibilities for:

    * creators to find new ways to distribute and monetise their work,
    * audiences to find new ways to access and enjoy the arts
    * creators and audiences to develop new ways to communicate and interact.

    The Copyright Council supports a creative Australia by providing information and advice about copyright, so we are particularly concerned with artists’ rights in the digital space. We believe it is important for creators to have the right to decide whether they want to be remunerated for their work or whether they want to put it online for others to share free of charge. If creators don’t want to give their work away for free, then we don’t think it’s OK for others to take it without payment. We believe that the Government needs to continue to lead industry discussion around what steps should be taken to ensure that creators’ works are protected from illegal filesharing and other types of copyright infringement.

    We understand that there are some grey areas, though, like orphan works, and the Council is working actively to recommend reforms that will allow cultural institutions like galleries, museums and libraries to provide better access to genuine orphan works. We also support digitisation of the cultural collections held by these kind of institutions, provided the digitisation process respects the rights of the creators of the works involved.

    We commend this Digital Culture Public Sphere initiative and look forward to expanding the ideas here in our submission to the National Cultural Policy consultation.

    Brendan Smith
    October 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    I’m sure Lindy Hume’s article in today’s Australian will be considered amongst the avalanche of other submissions, commentaries, surveys, emails and other input provided as part of the National Cultural Policy consultation process. Her short but eloquent, inspiring and compelling response to the Policy and the discussion paper encouraged me to make one further contribution. I hope she has done the same for many others…

    Her article makes a number of important and powerful points – the ones that especially spoke to me were:

    the centrality of the “illuminating narrative…vision and practical pathways and collaborative thinking” – focus and emphasis on these will all make the policy relevant and powerful.

    the importance of “rebalancing the resources and attitudinal divide between urban and regional Australia” and thinking beyond touring programs to complete relocation of companies and regional residency programs, taking full advantage of the possibilities and opportunities the NBN will potentially provide. For me, it is also about adequately resourcing regional communities to take advantage of touring and other more permanent programs, by providing adequate, ongoing funding and other support for regional arts infrastructure, programs and development initiatives for young and emerging regional artists.

    central recognition of the arts, all arts – whether a community workshop, festival or concert or an internationally acclaimed exhibition, screening or opera – as a ‘meeting place’, an opportunity to find commonality and connections with strangers from within our own local, regional or international community; and

    the need for the final policy to be inspiring, eloquent, compelling…something we can read, understand, feel proud of, be inspired by and work/live within.

    I, like many artists, arts and cultural workers and Australians, are still excited by the enormous opportunities and possibilities this policy/process represents. I wait for the policy, with baited breath, open mind and fingers crossed.