Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (21 May) . . Page.. 504 ..
MS TUCKER (4.09): I was really interested to see that Mr Wood brought this on this afternoon. I was particularly interested in listening to Mrs Carnell, as the new Minister responsible, to see what was the direction and, if it was going to change, what was her vision for the arts. It is great to hear such enthusiasm coming from both sides of the house on the matter of the arts.
I am not really surprised, but I am concerned about the tone of the Chief Minister's position. I noted down some of the words used, such as "effective marketing", "quality products" and "adding value to the arts". I guess she means dollar value by that. I am assuming that, but Mr Humphries might like to correct that if I have the wrong impression. There were also phrases like "funding less activity", "funding it to succeed" and "funding what is likely to succeed". Obviously, if it is a money spinner it is great. The arts brings in money and we do need to encourage the industry and that aspect of it.
I am totally supportive of cultural tourism or whatever it is called at the moment. I am, of course, supportive of excellence in the arts, and I am supportive of developing new audiences. But the danger is that the focus has gone so far to that side that we are losing the really fundamental understanding of the value of the arts to the community. It is not just about listening and being an audience and a spectator and bringing in tourist dollars and value adding. It is about our society as a whole being involved in artistic expression. It is about our being able to develop as a community our creative abilities, because it is such a fantastic opportunity to allow the community to develop. It is about community development. It is about the identity of individuals and groups in our society. It is about articulating a vision of how we want our society to move. It is about articulating what is not working in our society.
None of this will necessarily sell. That is my concern. You cannot say that there is not a valid place for this side of the arts. I am not saying that Mrs Carnell said there was not a place for it. I did hear her refer at one point to community arts and that you will actually see that enhanced if you make the industry part of it strong. But I am concerned because there was so little reference to that really fundamental importance of the arts to our society as a whole. It is not just about the industry; it is about who we are as human beings and whether or not we are allowed to develop that part of ourselves.
There is a strong environmental argument for that, by the way, as well, because, as is often said to explain the current consumer mentality, so much of our identity is based around ourselves as consumers. It is the "I shop; therefore I am" approach, and so on, which I have certainly gone over in this place before. Actually seeing humans as more than consumers or clients is very important, and I will continue to raise this as a matter of concern in this house when I hear it brought up over and over again in different debates about different issues of government service and government policy.
The Chief Minister also referred to the arts development strategy. I am not sure what has happened to that. It seems to have been on the drawing board for over a year now. I understand that it has gone back to the new Arts Minister. It still has not been released. She sort of gave us a hint about what it is going to be when she outlined her three focuses, which were the development of new audiences, supporting excellence and the