Wednesday, December 04, 2013

The forgetting of Newcastle

I have been working my way through a discussion paper entitled Framing the Future: Developing and arts and cultural policy for NSW. I will no doubt comment on the whole document in due course. Here I want to comment on one element, the theme entitled Arts and Culture for, by and across the whole of NSW.  The introduction states:

The location of arts and audiences has a strong influence on content, participation, delivery and engagement in culture.

NSW localities have different cultures, facilities and opportunities. It is important to ensure that opportunities to create and experience are spread across the State to ensure all contribute to and benefit from a rich cultural life. Locally relevant approaches are required to support arts and culture in different regions.

To amplify this theme, the specific geographic locations covered are:

  • Regional NSW
  • Sydney, Western Sydney and Greater Metropolitan Sydney.

Sydney, Western Sydney and Greater Metropolitan Sydney are treated as three separate entities. And, what, you may ask, is Greater Metropolitan Sydney? Why Newcastle and the Central Coast. It may also include Blue Mountains, but that's not clear.

Now what, you may ask is proposed.

The proposed goal for this theme is:

Sydney is an acknowledged cultural leader in the Asia-Pacific region, drawing on the unique
offerings of the CBD and the broader Sydney region.

Two questions are set for consideration:

  • What is required to make Sydney the acknowledged cultural leader in the Asia Pacific?
  • How can the NSW Government best work with councils in the CBD and greater
    Sydney in creating a rich cultural environment across the whole of the Sydney region?

These are the proposed directions:

Enhance the cultural identity and year round programming across Sydney with a coordinated
year round program of events and integrated promotions, and integrate major events, festivals, cultural programming into the NSW Government brand strategy

Enhance value, access and encourage repeat attendance at arts and cultural venues in Sydney
by proposals to:
— Investigate development of a Sydney Culture Pass to encourage visitation to Sydney’s arts,
museums and cultural sites
— Investigate and improve transport to key sites on Sydney’s arts and cultural ribbon
— Investigate ways to increase participation of children in State Cultural Institutions’ programming.

Co-promotion, shared programming and coordination between key organisations in Sydney CBD, Western Sydney and Greater Sydney

Strategic partnerships by the three tiers of government for priority localities to consolidate
investment of resources

MMMM. What can I say? Well, consider this to begin with:

  • There is no recognition of the separate cultural identities of Newcastle or the Central Coast
  • There is no recognition of Newcastle's role as a cultural centre for surrounding areas and beyond. Indeed, the boundaries effectively truncate Newcastle from the rest of the Hunter.
  • There is no recognition that Newcastle is actually in competition with Sydney, is striving to further develop its own very distinct cultural identity and needs integration with Sydney as an outrider like it needs a hole in the head.

See what I mean?


Greg said...

Most in Sydney probably think that Newcastle culture is an oxymoron. I don't think that their opinion will ever be changed in the capital.

Jim Belshaw said...

They do, I fear, Greg. And I don't think that it will change. So we have to work around that.