On 10 December 2015, 51 members of the community took part in the first CBRarts Forum - Creative Spaces Creative Places at Ainslie Arts Centre.
Creative Spaces, Creative Places was a chance to continue to discuss the future needs for cultural infrastructure and reflect on the achievements since the release of 2003 Arts Facilities Strategy. It also was a time to share information on ACT Government urban renewal and planning initiatives, and how they may support development of the arts.
The Forum focused on ensuring our arts facilities meet community needs now and in the future, and the role of the arts in improving the vibrancy and liveability of Canberra.
This report provides a summary of the:
- issues raised during the forum, and
- evaluation form results.
Creative Places (group discussions)
Participants took part in group activities that reviewed the current situation and explored future needs for arts facilities. Groups looked at cultural infrastructure needs based on what, where or when. Groups were asked to think about the future development needs of current facilities and why these needs exist. A summary of points raised by participants in the forum follows:
The importance of enough programming funding support to ensure the sustainability of facilities and to reflect the capital investment made.
- More advice, information and financial support can help facilities continue and improve what they offer to the community and artists. Examples given were equipment, sharing yearly calendar of events, best practice and innovation.
- Providing digital connectivity and easy access to public transport.
- Ensuring arts facilities are welcoming places, offering access to the community, audiences and artists.
- That art facilities reflect the diversity, accessibility, collaboration and development of art practice.
- Look at existing infrastructure across government and co locate community and arts infrastructure to support community development.
- Consider providing arts organisations the autonomy to manage maintenance budgets and policies for the facilities they manage.
- Better understanding of the drivers and growth in demand for arts facilities including population, audiences, participation, and where artists live and work.
- Ensuring that artists have the opportunity to grow and develop their practice.
- Examine models of affordable accommodation for artists used in other cities that allow artists to live and work in the city to contribute to the city’s culture.
- Communicating better why, how and when the ACT Government delivers cultural infrastructure.
- Look at opportunities to develop partnerships with the private sector, community and government.
- Improving engagement with the community to identify their needs.
- The opportunities and compromises of using renovated or upgraded buildings, as opposed to purpose-built infrastructure. The arts should have access to purpose-built facilities.
- Use of pop-ups and temporary space activation to reach out and connect with the community.
- Better use of vacant spaces (for example Renew Newcastle).
- Review regulations around live music.
- Develop spaces and places through curated engagement with the community.
Creative Spaces Panel Discussion
The forum’s second session was a panel discussion moderated by Adam Stankevicius, Director Arts and Events, ACT Government.
- Shane Breynard, Canberra Museum + Gallery, Cultural Facilities Corporation
- David Caffrey, Dionysus, consultant to the Molonglo Group
- Nick Holt, Urban Infill, Land Development Agency (responsible for the Kingston Arts Precinct)
- Petra Oswald, Strategic Planning, Environment and Planning Directorate
After panel members discussed how the arts relates to their work, the moderator and forum participants asked questions. Below is a summary of the discussion.
Interaction and contentedness with the Community
- Is cultural infrastructure for artists or the community? Cultural infrastructure needs to interact with other social and economic ecologies. For example events, tourism, health, digital access and economic activity.
- Places where the community come together are important to the life of the city, creating pockets of activity. How can arts facilities spill out and connect with the public realm and community, and contribute to placemaking? Better quality public spaces - how can the community be involved in shaping the design of places, informing design and what activities are offered.
- Cultural activities create interconnection in through programming, as well as infrastructure.
Incorporating arts and design in urban renewal
- The ACT Government has recently published the Statement of Planning Intent, which incorporates principles of placemaking and design. The ACT Government is looking at creating spaces that encourage ideas businesses and create opportunities for the community. The ACT Government needs to balance changing spaces and places, with concerns about changing what the community loves about Canberra.
- As the city grows and develops and precincts change, there is a challenge to get the balance right by defining the use and allow areas to evolve overtime. Overtime everyone may not understand the original design intent of a precinct, as developed in consultation with the community.
- Braddon has examples of how arts and design has contributed to urban renewal. Street improvements, architectural design, and short-term and ‘pop-up’ activations are used to attract people and reflect the current culture. However, gentrification leads to the question: Where is the next Lonsdale Street?
- There is a need for affordable and accessible (public and active transport) creative spaces to continue fostering cultural activity in the city.
- A participant also raised the potential for a Screen sector precinct at Watson.
Collaboration and Engagement
- There needs to be recognition that no single person or sector is responsible for creating or supporting a role of the arts and design in urban renewal. The arts sector should look into blended funding options, and needs to chase and make opportunities.
- There is also value involving various areas of government in the discussion about the contribution arts and culture can make to the build environment. Collaboration is an important focus for the Land Development Agency, while managing a diversity of views.
- Participants thought it was important that the views of independent artists, as well as organisations, are sought on ideas and decision making processes involving art and design projects.
Integrating existing cultural infrastructure
- The role of the ACT Government’s existing arts facilities activating the communities around them was discussed. Where investment is directed (capital versus programming) and where this support should come from (private versus public) was discussed. Giving the support to facilities’ programs is important, and looking at a need for innovative approaches to access funding is needed.
Evaluation and Feedback
Overall artsACT received positive feedback about the CBRarts Forum. The ability of the arts sector to come together to discuss topics about developing the arts and the variety of views from panel members, and from other participants, were some of the positive comments received.
CBRarts Forum should continue as regular events, but should be open to a wider range of participants from various sectors. Clearer and earlier communications were suggested as ways to address this. Suggestions were also made about recording or broadcasting the forum.
A wide range of topics were put forward for future discussion, including:
- More information on how government works and artsACT future objectives.
- Support and funding to the arts.
- Development of arts organisations and capacity building.
- Engagement with other sectors including education.
- Events development and audience and community engagement.
- The role of the arts in community cultural development.
- Fostering the growth in cultural industries.
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