The challenges of valuing culture in Australia, and the role of symbiosis in understanding cultural interactions
AuthorReddan, Clare Melissa
AffiliationSchool of Culture and Communication
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2023-02-16.
© 2019 Clare Melissa Reddan
This research examines the conditions and narratives that surround cultural value, particularly within the fields of cultural diplomacy, cultural policy and the arts. These conditions and narratives are situated within the context of knowledge or innovation-based societies where, over the past two decades, a rise in cultural value discourse has occurred. Knowledge-based societies also feature post-industrial economies and, therefore, in this thesis, the tendency to value culture in terms of economics is of particular significance. In Australia, this is evident across various municipal levels, from local councils to the federal government. Through a series of case studies encompassing the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the City of Melbourne and a federal policy proposal for a National Programme for Excellence in the Arts, I argue a common approach to the valuation of culture is evident, and is one that is rooted in instrumentalisation—or what Yudice characterises as expediency, where ‘culture-as-resource’ is a means to an end. However, this narrow scope limits the possibility to understand more about the different types of value that culture (such as the arts) can have, particularly when it comes to aesthetic exploration of new knowledges, global networks and relationships. To explore alternative considerations of what value culture can offer to both societies and people alike, I consider European theatre collective Rimini Protokoll’s ability to display the culture of nations in their touring performance of 100% City. Here, another realisation of the value of culture is discernible. In political terms, this is cultural value that resides outside the typical state-to-public facilitation of public diplomacy and rests on a people-to-people mode of communication. As a result, I argue that the current, utilitarian vocabulary surrounding the value of culture should be expanded and developed further to reflect its operation today in the age of global networks and relationships. Such an expansion incorporates a symbiotic consideration of the interactions that occur over the course of cultural relationships and counterbalances the over-reliance on economic and political factors and evaluations. My proposal serves to further refine understandings of ‘the cultural’ within the discourse of cultural value. To do so, I draw upon the biological understanding of relationships, referred to as symbiosis, to study how cultural value is understood amongst the private and public sector actors across three key dimensions: the economic, the political and the social. As a result, I propose cultural symbiosis as a conceptual metaphor that assists in the articulation of the more complex and multifaceted relations that cultural activity can generate. This conceptualisation provides the basis for an approach that better articulates the relations of cultural activity and one that extends the neoliberal vocabulary currently used to describe culture and the discourse of cultural value.
Keywordscultural value; culture; cultural studies; international relations; cultural diplomacy; cultural policy; theatre; creative industries; arts evaluation; creative ecology; symbiosis; cultural relations; creative economy; soft power
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