What now for Australia’s cultural future?

Marking the end of a tumultuous year for our creative and cultural sector, the 51st Australian Academy of the Humanities Symposium ‘At the Crossroad? Australia’s Cultural Future’ explores the impacts of COVID-19 and other disruptions to our cultural life and considers how innovative cultural policy settings and creative practice could together underpin a path to recovery for the sector, for our people and our communities.

Our free series of webinars brings together practitioners, creators, policy makers and researchers to deliver a daily dose of ideas, debate and inspiration over the course of a week from 16-20 November.

Topics range from ‘Technologies and Creative Futures’ and ‘Continuous and Diverse: A Long History of Many Cultures’ to ‘Policy Matters: Key Insights from A New Approach’; ‘Connecting Policy and Artists’; and ‘Culturing the Creative Economy’.

‘When we set the theme for this year’s Symposium 12 months ago, no-one could have imagined the traumatic events which were about to unfold,’ said Academy President, Professor Joy Damousi FASSA FAHA.

‘Given the impact on our arts and cultural sector, the theme of the Symposium – ‘at the crossroad’ – has never felt more appropriate’.

‘We’ve all heard the stories and witnessed how much pain has been suffered in this year. We won’t be ignoring the awful impact of COVID-19 but want to focus on the remarkable ingenuity within the sector in the response to this crisis’.

‘The event is an opportunity to focus on the incredible talents and creativity of Australia’s arts and culture community, and the role they can play in re-building Australia, both socially and economically’, Professor Damousi added.

The Academy is delighted to announce that singer-songwriter Nancy Bates has accepted a commission to compose and perform a song to commemorate the 51st Academy Symposium.

‘This is the first time the Academy has commissioned a creative piece to coincide with our flagship public event’ said Professor Damousi. ‘Nancy’s artistic contribution will add a richness to proceedings, and we’re excited to hear the results when she performs the song live at the closing event’.

This year’s stellar line-up of Symposium presenters includes: Australian playwright and Sydney Festival Artistic Director, Wesley Enoch AM; Emmy Award winning artist and filmmaker, Lynnette Wallworth; Regional Arts Australia Executive Director, Ros Abercrombie; Pub Choir Founder and Director, Astrid Jorgensen; Designer and Producer, Alison Page; Western Australian-based artist, Abdul-Rahman Abdullah; creative industries expert, Stuart Cunningham AM FAcSS FAHA; South Korea cultural policy expert, Dr Hye-Kyung Lee; and arts and cultural supporter and President-elect of The Myer Foundation, Rupert Myer AO. Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts the Hon Paul Fletcher will deliver a pre-recorded welcome speech.

This year’s program has been convened by Malcolm Gillies AM FAHA (Australian National University), Jennifer Milam FAHA (University of Newcastle), Shelagh Magadza (The Chamber of Arts and Culture Western Australia) and Joanne Tompkins FAHA (The University of Queensland).

The program of events also includes two satellite events: ‘Enquiring Minds: What Artists Can Bring to Government and Industry Research’ hosted by  the Australia Council for the Arts, and ‘Leadership in Creative Practice and Research’  hosted by the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA).

‘At the Crossroad? Australia’s Cultural Future’ is proudly sponsored by arts and culture think tank, A New Approach.

About the image

The Academy is grateful for the permission from Bangarra Dance Theatre Ensemble to reproduce the image from Unaipon (2019), by photographer Lisa Tomasetti, for the Symposium poster and banner.

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Acknowledgement of Country

The Australian Academy of the Humanities recognises Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of this land, and their continuous connection to country, community and culture.