Perth Art communities have great potential to do amazing things, but in the past years these communities have suffered in growth, either due to lack of people or lack of interest. But has the new mining boom changed this outcome, will it boost the arts or suffocate it?
First, lets define community.
T Borrup author of The Creative Community Builders Handbook, refers to community as ‘ People and the natural and built environments within a geographically defined area’.
A strong part of what defines ‘community’ is Culture. Culture stands for values beliefs, attitudes, orientations and underlining assumptions that exist among people.*
Perth overall has a very industrious culture, where most people within the Perth area work in the mining industry. From this, the city has grown in population but not grown within the arts. How many of these people are involved in the arts? Do they think art is important?
The collective conscience seems to be more about economy growth through digging holes, building houses and spending lots of dollars on consumer items. But have they thought about what holds community together. Perth is not just a place where we house ourselves, it’s where we live.
A social scientist, Putnam argued that ‘ the well-being of a city or region pivots on the ability of people to interact constructively around mutual interests.’
A lot of people in Perth come from other ethnic backgrounds so mutual interests my not be the same. Cultures may clash but a holistic way to bring understanding and to bridge the gaps between cultures or neighbourhoods is to provide creative activities within the community. Street festivals have been a great example of this within some smaller communities. The likes of Fremantle Arts Festival or the William St Festival predominately display different cultures within the community through performance, visual arts, food and music.
Other great benefits of art communities are economic development strategies. Building creative communities provides jobs, stimulate trade through cultural tourism, attract investment by creating work zones for artists, diversify local economy, improve and enhance property value, promote interaction with public space, increase civic participation ( cultural celebrations), engage youth, promote steward ship of place, and broaden participation in civic agendas.
Art brings another level of education to the people. We are a multicultural society and we need to celebrate our differences and understand each other. Can that be achieved by purely digging a whole or buying a tv? I do not think so.
On the other side of community art development, there is a certain amount of control over what we can say, do, paint, perform.
The government and community organisations provide commissions or funding to creative practitioners. Yet the commissions or grants come with rules.
Borrup writes, ‘ without an operating system there’s chaos’.
When Marcus Canning come to talk about the Ascalon Project, it occurred to me that churches are still in control. The Ascalon sculpture is Perth’s highest commissioned art piece. For what purpose? To bring a multicultural rich society to believe in the awesome power of their church?
Why can’t our government or a private investor commission our artists as much that.
I guess this is where our smaller art communities come into play. They are run by the ‘people’ not so much the churches or governments and they allow more creative freedom. The only problem is that unless you are purely interested in the arts, such events are not as easy to find. This is where community art developers need to get there thinking cap on and expand awareness. We must integrate the arts into other working areas. Maybe more money needs to go into marketing such events and activities.
My position on the art community development is to create more awareness , promote, promote, promote and educate in all areas and to all people of Perth. We must advertise these creative events to those people sitting in front of their TV. And I believe that funding should bot just come from Council , Government or Churches it should also come from the ‘people’.
Borrup, T. (2006). The creative community builders handbook: How to transform communities using local assets, art, and culture (pp. 4-25). Minnesota: Fieldstone Alliance.
Canning. M (2011) Case Study of Public Art Development in Perth lecture (.pdf / 2.26 m. Retrieved from Edith Cowan University