At the end of 2013, Arts NSW called for responses to a discussion paper on a proposed NSW cultural policy. It seemed a very Sydney centric document that also tried to stitch together all sorts of other policy objectives and activities. That’s actually a feature of all the NSW mega agency clusters. They want to integrate what they do into an apparently coherent narrative even where things are in fact not, or were not, connected.
In January 2014 the New England Writers’ Centre responded. We summarised our approach in this way:
As a broad general comment, we found some difficulty in determining the relevance of the paper to the Centre’s role in the promotion of writers and writing in Northern New South Wales and indeed, more broadly, to the development of arts and cultural activities within Northern New South Wales. Similar issues arose in the context of the various action plans referred to in the discussion paper, plans that are meant to be integrated in some way with an arts and cultural policy.
Part of the problem lies in the division within the strategies between Sydney and NSW, combined with a top down approach that seeks to interlink Sydney and the rest of the state in the form of a cobweb with the different strands centered on Sydney. One consequence is insufficient recognition of diversity within NSW and the way this affects the on-ground patterns of life, including interactions between areas outside Sydney. To pursue the cobweb analogy, there are many smaller overlapping webs within NSW that exist independently of any interconnection with Sydney and may indeed be in competition with Sydney.
The brief comments that follow amplify this point. We have tried to structure them to be helpful to the general intent of the strategy, while also pointing to the deficiencies as we see them in the current approach.
In response to a comment on another blog, I promised to put the paper on line. I have now posted it to Scribd. It’s not a very long submission, a bit over ten pages. I think that its quite good.
If you can find the time, have a browse and give me your reactions.