Reset #7 Public Policy and Cultural Citizenship

Thursday October 14th, Flinders University, Victoria Square.

Does Australian governance have the capacity adequate to pursuing an art and cultural policy?

Does the cultural sector – through formal representation, civil society, the media public sphere and advocacy bodies – have an audible voice in Australia?

What is cultural citizenship? What new consultation and policy tools are available: Participatory budgeting, citizen assemblies, democratising boards and trusts.

Reset #6 Art and Culture after the Creative City

10 September 2021 2 -7pm, at Waterside Workers Hall, Nile Street, Port Adelaide

Register here https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/reset-6-art-and-culture-after-the-creative-city-tickets-167403826351

The idea of the ‘creative city’ has its roots in the 1980s. In the face of accelerating de-industrialisation, the rise of grassroots social movements, alternative arts and new popular cultures held out the hope of a new kind of post-industrial city. They rediscovered the joys and energies of the urban realm, after the top-down, technocratic ‘master-planning’ of the industrial city. New kinds of cultural practice, messing with the boundaries ‘art’ and ‘popular’, mostly outside formal arts policy, occupied the ‘decaying’ spaces of the city. They re-invented both old industrial buildings and the kinds of ‘creative work’ that might take place within them. By the late 1990s city governments began to promote and celebrate these new spaces and activities, with ‘gurus’ such as Charles Landry and Richard Florida promoting the ‘creative city’ as the key to the future, exporting the model across the globe. 

Already by 2008 things weren’t looking so good. Gentrification was relatively benign in the 1980s and 1990s, as derelict spaces and run-down areas attracted artists and cultural workers, some of whom had money. By 2008 gentrification was in hyper-drive, with city governments courting global development capital and up-market leisure, hospitality and retail, with little need of the artists to do the groundwork. Property prices had gone through the roof and rents with them. The industrial city had become a developer city, with planning laws organised around the maximisation of tax/ rent yield and selling to the highest bidder. What had begun as a re-discovery of urban living ended with the mass construction of ‘city centre living’, most of it unaffordable for artists and locals, and frequently opposed to the urban ‘vibrancy’ which had been the original selling point. Cuts to culture budgets, increased freelancing, precarious employment, minimal social welfare, education debts – by 2020 cities were no longer hospitable to those whose energies had helped re-invent them 30 years before. 

Where to next?

The Reset series, responding to the general crisis of arts and cultural policy, aims to introduce new ideas to the arts and cultural sector. Using heterodox economists, labour and community activists, environmentalists and alternative urban designers we have sought ways of reframing arts and culture as part of a new post-pandemic, post-climate emergency public policy. Art and culture can no longer present themselves as engines of economic growth. They need find a new place in a policy landscape of public-investment into social ‘foundations’, centred on human services (education, health, social welfare) and utilities, all within sustainable planetary limits.

How then are we to re-think the city, and the place of art and culture within it? This is the question we will address in this half-day seminar hosted by Reset and Vitalstatistix in Port Adelaide.

We chose Port Adelaide for three reasons. First, we wanted to ground discussion in a concrete local case, and as an old industrial waterside city, the Port is – theoretically at least – prime ‘creative city’ material. Second, we felt that the Port’s radical history, and its more recent activism in opposition to on-going redevelopment, could provide a different story to that of the usual city boosterism and developer PR. Third, we would like to explore how the Port might play a lead role in a new kind of culture-led regeneration: can we outline a vision (utopian or otherwise) for a city in which art and culture are part of the sustainable social, economic and environmental fabric of the city?

To help us do this we propose a half day of shared ideas and experiences, in the convivial atmosphere of the Waterside Workers Hall.

We begin with a walk to highlight some key sites of community campaigning, resistance and urban redevelopment in the inner Port Adelaide area, led by Emma Webb, Director of Vitalstatistix, a local contemporary arts organisation, along with Kaurna Elder, Aunty Margaret Brodie, and local activist and photographer Tony Kearney.

This is followed by a panel, with Emma Webb from Vitalstatistix, in conversation with: Aunty Margaret Brodie; Anthony Coupe, Director of Mulloway Studio; Campbell Duignan, Organiser with the Maritime Union of Australia; Kirsty Hammett, Port of Adelaide National Trust and Save Shed 26; and Lindl Lawton, Senior Curator of the South Australian Maritime Museum.

Next is a zoom presentation from Dan Hill, based in Swedish Innovation Agency, Stockholm (previously London and Sydney) whose Slowdown Papers are to be published by Verso and who spoke at Reset #5 (both lectures supported by UniSA’s EU-Hawke Centre). He will be interviewed by Rory Hyde, Associate Professor of Architecture at University of Melbourne.

To end we will have a panel on new visions for the creative city, led by Justin O’Connor (UniSA), Sebastian Olma, activist from Amsterdam Alternative, and a spokesperson for the Rome Charter, a statement on culture and cities building on citizens’ rights to the city.

We will then have food and drink.

Click here to register

Reset#5 Dan Hill: Slowdown-Reimagining the Infrastructures of Everyday life

Thursday 5 August 2021 4:00 to 6:00 pm Bradley Forum (H5-02), Hawke Building, City West Campus

Dan Hill is Director of Strategic Design at Vinnova, the Swedish government’s innovation agency. A designer and urbanist, his previous leadership roles include Arup, Future Cities Catapult, Fabrica, SITRA and the BBC. He’s lived and worked in UK, Australia, Finland, Italy and Sweden. Dan is Professor at Oslo School of Architecture and Design, Visiting Professor at UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose and Design Academy Eindhoven, and Adjunct Professor at RMIT University, Melbourne. He is a member of the UN Council on Urban Initiatives, a Design Advocate for the Mayor of London, and a Trustee of Participatory City Foundation.

The global events of the last 18 months, from Covid to BLM to bushfires, have shattered many assumptions about everyday life. Yet the fundamental questions so awkwardly thrown onto the table by the pandemic run deeper than these events, and concern far greater long-running challenges framed around crises of climate, health and social justice. Equally, these shifts in living patterns may also be a harbinger of ‘slowdown’ dynamics, driven by decreasing global population growth, diminished productivity, and slowing technological innovation—and the need to recalibrate economics.

What patterns might be forming amidst all this chaos? What are the new forms of cities and places that can be imagined under these conditions? What new patterns and practices of everyday life could emerge, finally addressing these so-called wicked problems? How might new technologies and social infrastructures suggest participative and regenerative relationships with nature and human nature?

In this talk, Dan drew from the thinking shared in his Slowdown Papers series, but also from his project work all over the world, as a designer at SITRA’s Helsinki Design Lab, at Arup in Australia, Europe, and the US, and most recently with Vinnova in Sweden, where he is forging design-led place-based missions to help reimagine streets, public space and food systems. Dan also drew from his significant experience in Australia, exploring how these ideas might connect to current and future cities and cultures. Dan ended by describing how Sweden, and the European Commission, is approaching the New European Bauhaus programme, a leading edge of the Green Deal oriented around sustainability, aesthetics and inclusion.

From an incredibly rich talk we might focus three aspects.

The first is Slowdown itself, a term which Dan was using before the serendipitous arrival of Danny Dorling’s book Slowdown, about the end of the ‘great acceleration’. Sustainability may not be compatible with growth at all, or at least entail different forms of growth—slow growth, or organic growth, or growth of what, to what end?—thus radically challenging our ideas of what ‘growth’ might even mean. The recent IPCC report on climate change and a KPMG director’s recent recalculation of 1972 Limits to Growth are the most recent in a long line of warnings that Business as Usual is not possible. Dan’s talk discussed this in terms of our ‘urban imaginary’, that is, how we imagine the future city and the kinds of technologies what will work with, rather than against, existing earth systems. Some of these urban issues will be explored in Reset #6, on the ‘creative city’. The cultural sector, particularly through the lens of ‘creative industries’ has been deeply implicated in this growth scenario (see Scott Ludlam’s Reset#5 talk). What would a deliberate ‘slow growth’ or ‘slowdown’ scenario for art and culture look like?

The second relates to the New European Bauhaus project, a creative and interdisciplinary movement that seeks to connect the European Green Deal to living spaces phrased as “beautiful, sustainable, together”. Dan expands this into three organising terms: sustainability, inclusion, aesthetics. Most would have no problem with ‘sustainability’ and ‘inclusion’. The various iterations of Green New Deal in the US, EU and Xi Jinping’s recent version, all emphasise de-carbonisation and an emphasis on services and infrastructure (so too the KPMG report and others). But ‘aesthetics’?

The association with Bauhaus would give license to ‘design’, this term has expanded to mean any form of strategic planning or contracted to mean the surface appeal of the object, which may or may not be connected to its usage. The Bauhaus sought to combine industrial design and architecture with aesthetics, not as commercial ‘allure’ but as giving expression to the kind of civilisation we seek to be. This can be found in Herbert Read’s 1935 tribute to the Bauhaus, ‘Art and Industry’: Art is always the index of social vitality, the moving finger that records the destiny of a civilization. A wise statesman should keep an anxious eye on this graph, for it is more significant than a decline in exports or a fall in the value of a nation’s currency.

This kind of thinking is foreign to us now, but versions of it inspired much of the most meaningful and enduring architecture and urban design in the last two centuries. Dan quotes his Swedish colleague Kieran Long, director of ArkDes, the Swedish national centre for architecture and design: It is architecture and design’s task to give form to a societal idea (like justice) through the creation of a setting for people to encounter that idea (like a courthouse). We see in our public buildings and spaces (our park benches and metro trains; a hot dog kiosk and a monument to the dead) what we are made of. Design can not avoid this assignment - it either embraces the task, or it unwittingly displays, or even conceals, society’s prejudices and weaknesses.

Although public spaces are often defined as if questions of engineering, by urban planning cultures, this reveals that they are not only for the use of the public but that they express the values we share in common, and in turn shape those values. The material forms through which we seek to shape and express common values is what we mean by aesthetic. This is not the ‘beaux arts’ tradition of 19th century ‘city beautiful’ architecture, and more than the ‘form=function’ of the Bauhaus. We expect a much more participatory approach to the design of public space. Dan quoted Swedish designer Sandi Hilal, that you can’t have true public space without the public in it, and co-producing it.

Public space is also a digital platform, just as it is part of a wider ‘metabolism’ of energy, materials and finance as in Scott Ludlam’s account. It is also an articulation of politics, of the cultures of decision-making that frame our everyday patterns of living. The aesthetic challenge here is very much that of our own age.

Third, Dan brought back Raymond Williams into the conversation. Reset have been concerned with the ‘foundational economy’ (see Reset#3) which includes infrastructure – often conceived as utilities, roads, cables and waste management. But the built and natural environment is also infrastructure; not just as technical-reliance systems, but as the ‘everyday infrastructure’ through which we live our ‘ordinary’ lives. In The Long Revolution, Raymond Williams “writes about how the ordinary around us is actually far from ordinary. It is conjured, in precisely the same way that art is. We can look for ordinary within extra-ordinary, and vice versa”.

“Everything we see and do, the whole structure of our relationships and institutions, depends, finally, on an effort of learning, description and communication. We create our human world as we have thought of art being created. “ — Raymond Williams (1961)

This takes us back to art and everyday life, not as a social service – delivering to social welfare, health, educational, corrective or other social objectives – but as essential to who we are and how we live together. To think the everyday, the build environment, that formation of infrastructures must be a creative act, expressive of our common values.

Reset #4: Scott Ludlam – Art, Culture, Ecosystem

Thursday 15 July 2021 Bradley Forum (H5-02), Hawke Building, City West Campus

Scott Ludlam: Full Circle and the Art of Panarchy

The word ecosystem gets used a lot in arts and culture, in different and sometimes opposing ways. To help us think through this, Reset #4 hosted Scott Ludlam in a conversation about the ideas he proposes in his new book, Full Circle, and their relevance to the cultural sector. Scott was a senator from 2008 to 2017 and served as deputy leader of the Australian Greens. He formerly worked as a filmmaker, artist and graphic designer and now resides on the south coast of NSW as a full-time writer, activist and troublemaker. Full Circle takes a panoramic view of the planetary ecosystem, where nature, culture and history run together.

In his talk, Scott drew on his book, to introduce concepts of industrial metabolism, adaptive cycles and panarchy into the mix, using systems theory and movement history to provoke a conversation about how the arts can take a central role in the emerging global network of social movements.

Scott Ludlam: Questions of climate and energy transitions have long been considered the domain of technologists and policymakers, engineers and executives. And so now we stand at the brink of collapse, with old systems buckling and novel ones yet to breach the armour of state capture. Now is the time for fresh imagination and radical ideas: that’s the domain of artists and cultural practitioners.

Art, Culture, Metabolism

We were struck by Scott’s account of ‘urban metabolism’, a graphic imagining of the throughput of materials, energy, and finance through a quiet suburban street. In the book and in his talk Scott encourages us to imagine the often invisible resources in – resources out of an average group of people. Food for humans and animals, energy for heating and cooling, human and materials waste, recycling efforts. How many chickens does a group of homes go through in a year? How much water? The concept of the urban metabolism encourages the reader to think a bit differently about the balance of consumption in their immediate environment. For Reset #4, we wanted to extend this from the suburban household scenario to the arts and culture sector. How might we think of a cultural metabolism?

For many years, the ‘creative industries’ were presented as a ‘weightless’, ‘clean’, post-industrial, service-based sector running on endlessly renewable creativity. Less so now. Communication and computing systems (transport, cables, telephony, hardware) rely on servers under the Utah desert, lithium and rare earths dug up mines across the globe, and assembly in factories with dubious labour conditions and environmental regulation. This is before we get to the global networks of shipping and freighting behind ‘click and collect’. What we call ‘cultural manufacturing’ – furniture, clothing and textile, ceramics, glassware, jewellery, printing – rapidly declined in Australia from the 1990s, but we still consume more of these than ever before, all shipped in. Theatres and live venues, exhibitions and museums, music and screen production – all rely on a range of material supplies, formerly made locally by skilled artisans. Then there is audience travel, the globe-trotting of artists and tourists, and the range of consumption practices in hospitality and accommodation.

What would Adelaide or Regional South Australia look like through such the lens of our ‘cultural metabolism’? What implication might this have for arts and cultural policy? The response of the cultural sector has to be more than gestures to ‘sustainability’, welcome as are the efforts towards recycling and carbon-neutral buildings and events. It demands a more fundamental rethink. 

Green New Deal for Culture?

In addition to the growing awareness of the climate emergency and the need for rapid de-carbonisation, the pandemic has made us reconsider long, less secure global supply chains, local making capacities in manufacturing and agriculture, and the importance of locally provided essential services. The various versions of a Green New Deal all link state investment, green jobs and social equity, in which the emphasis has shifted to providing basic social services and infrastructures which we call ‘foundational’.

The cultural sector needs to understand how its own metabolism is implicated in the wider crisis of sustainability. This will be difficult to achieve whilst culture is seen as an ‘industry’ whose main objective is growth (such as more tourists and international visitors) rather than an essential part of providing foundational cultural services and infrastructures. It needs to regain the language of public value in order for it to make a full transition to a sustainability and social equity agenda.

Localising the Cultural Metabolism

Job losses in the cultural industries have been highest in area of manufacture – printing, clothing, retail and wholesale distribution. But digitalisation does not mean de-materialisation, more a radical restructuring of the cultural economy around monopoly platforms. We might start to think about the metabolism of the material cultural economy in terms akin to those around ‘circular economies’, and the built infrastructure as in-fill and retrofit rather than rebuild (see Reset#5). To what extent does the disappearance of local making and supply impact on the kinds of culture that gets produced, the kinds of skills it fosters, and the changing understanding of the role of culture in our concepts of the sustainable city? How can the emphasis on increased participation and social equity in the cultural sector intersect with a new vision of how we make culture in the sustainable city?

Ecosystem, Panarchy, Adaptive cycles

‘Ecosystem’ is often used in the cultural sector – as a combination of complexity, ‘organic’ spontaneous (self) organisation, or sometimes just ‘networks’. Full Circle talks a lot about the way these systems are not static but change and adapt in ways that are hard to predict – ‘panarchy’. Scott’s book confronts how we might create radical change in the face of the current existential threat.

Scott uses the term panarchy to think about frameworks for social and political organisation that can account for the complexity of networks of people and the natural environments in which they live and upon which they depend. This complexity often extends to being contradictory but also built on adaptive cycles of change which lead to fundamental system reorganizations.

If we are in the phase of the adaptive cycle in which we are between the old, failing system, and emergent forms of a new – many of us in the seminar asked how art and culture featured in this? We might radically reorient the production of art and culture to take into account sustainability, ‘green jobs’ and social equity, but role do artists play in this adaptive phase? The answer lies somewhere in the recognition that culture is our collective imaginary, and it is the stage on which our vision for the future will be decided. How we produce culture and how we imagine the future are part of the same process, something we are beginning to learn here from aboriginal communities.

Art and Planetary Ecosystem

Culture used to be described as everything that which was not nature. Human societies were ‘cultural’ insofar as they passed on learning and understanding, not biological behavioural traits. We don’t tend to think like that anymore. Not only because we know how entangled we are with animals and things in the world, but also because a belief in man’s mastery over nature has helped bring us to this crisis.

Scott’s book has a kind of poetic thread running through it. He structures an account of his own activist journey and the rise of extractive capitalism around a story of the emergence of life on earth. From Escherichia Coli to our own evolved present, we seek nourishment, containment, memory. But there is more here. It is related to aesthetics as patterning and as beauty, giving voice to life itself, in a way that recalls many of the deepest impulses toward the expressive act that we call art. We know it is fundamental to all human societies. This need not place ‘man’ at the apex of the evolutionary ladder, but instead re-affirm our task as custodians, of speaking the beauty of life, that we are charged with whilst still alive on the planet.

Reset #3: Art, Culture and Heterodox Economics

Recording available here

[Reset: To turn a piece of computer equipment off and then on again when it does not work correctly, to make it start working correctly again.]

For the last thirty years art and culture have sought to align themselves with the prevailing economic orthodoxy.  They presented themselves as an ‘industry’, a contributor to GDP, part of a fast-growing ‘knowledge’ or ‘creative’ economy driven by an entrepreneurial private sector. Government’s task was to facilitate private sector-led growth, outsource public services to the market, and incorporate its efficiencies into its own practices. Public funding for arts and culture was about ‘market-failure’, for those who could not hack it commercially.

Since 2008 this economic orthodoxy has been challenged on several fronts. Rising inequality, stalled growth, job insecurity, wage stagnation, hollowed out public services and the escalating environmental crisis have undermined its claims to be uniquely capable of delivering prosperity. GDP is no longer seen as an adequate measure of prosperity, the ‘free market’ repeatedly failing to deliver on its promises. Economics’ claim to mathematical precision was revealed as hubris. The utility-maximising individual consumer turned out to be less the building block of society and more its systemic disruptor. In the wake of the pandemic, values of care and community, social equity and sustainability, well-being and belonging have come to the fore, the calls now for the economy to serve society not vice-versa.

New heterodox economic ideas are now gaining momentum – how are arts and culture to locate themselves in this new landscape? To begin to answer some of this, we presented three conversations with leading voices in this heterodox approach.

Kelly Dombroski (University of Canterbury, Aotearoa New Zealand) part of the Community Economy Research Network (CERN). Joint editor (with Katherine Gibson) of the Handbook of Diverse Economies. Discussion led by Tully Barnett (Flinders)

Kelly began by speaking to the work of J.K Gibson-Graham, whose 2006 book Postcapitalist Politics has been widely influential. This argued that focusing on a monolithic ‘capitalism’ not only bred a kind of fatalism or ‘all-or-nothing’ approach to social change, but actually misrecognised the range of activities that were not capitalist: gift exchange, barter, unpaid labour, co-operatives and practices of the commons. These were not just found in developing countries but could sit cheek-by-jowl with hyper-connected capitalist economies. Out of this work has come work on diverse economies, seeking to identify and understand this range of non-capitalist practices, as well as the ways they might be nurtured. This has informed the activities of groups such as the Community Economy Network, of which Kelly is a part. Working with this group, Kelly highlights the key concerns of a community economy as being around things like how individuals and groups might survive well, how surplus might be distributed appropriately, what kinds of care commons require. spoke of her work with the group, and how this might have pointers for the arts and cultural sector – picking up themes from the last Reset#2 on co-operatives and basic income. Using a diverse economies approach enables us to understand a much broader set of practices as economic activity and to have a different perspective on how economic activity supports or detracts from individuals’ capacity to survive well.

Steven Hail (University of Adelaide) talked about Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and its implications, the rise of heterodox economics, and his work with the Sustainable Prosperity Action Group. (Led by Julian Meyrick, Griffith University)

After talking about how he became increasingly sceptical – as someone who used to train bankers – of mainstream economics, Steven introduced the core ideas of Modern Monetary Theory. MMT relates back to Keynesianism, sharing its goal of “true” full employment, and the need for economically interventionist government. But it goes beyond Keynes in important ways. It takes its original inspiration from heterodox economist Hyman Minsky, and his ‘non-foundational’ approach to state finance. Most vitally, this demonstrates how, for currency-issuing countries like Australia, the national economy is not like a household economy – i.e. debt “bad”, surplus “good”. This fiction has underpinned neo-liberalism’s attempt to cut public spending over five decades, reaching a high-point in the post-2008 austerity measures of the UK, the US and the Eurozone (that were so disastrous and counter-productive). Stephanie Kelton’s The Deficit Myth, a NYT best-seller, has explained why this is so to a wide readership. Important for us is how MMT opens up scope for spending-oriented policy programmes longed dismissed as impossible and irresponsible, with the “stagflation” of the 1970s (mainly caused by the OPEC oil price spike anyway) used as a cautionary tale. The kinds of spending initiatives currently being rolled-out by the Biden presidency, the EU and other countries in the wake of Covid-19, is suggesting to many economists that the era of neoliberalism may finally be drawing to a close. MMT kick-starts debate around true full-employment, job guarantees and (more controversially) Universal Basic Income, with a mainstream audience. This has important consequences for proposing an entirely new kind of arts and cultural policy.

Julie Froud and Karel Williams (University of Manchester) members of the Foundational Economy Collective (led by Justin O’Connor, University of South Australia).

The work of the FEC began around 2013 and has evolved significantly since then. It began with two clear ideas. First, that economic development should focus on the basic infrastructures, services or ‘reliance systems’ that underpin decent, civilised life. Second that these basics or foundations were themselves ‘an economy’ – not just a ‘taxpayer expense’ – and provided good jobs, useful services and collectively provided social benefits that could be as important for quality of life as wage income. Based on the disaggregation of ‘the economy’ into different zones, the FEC began a programme of statistical and policy analysis as to how these foundational services might be supported, extended and, importantly, updated for the 21st century. More recently they speak of a ‘foundational approach’ which involves folding in ecological considerations absent in the great age of municipal and national services. They also emphasis new more democratic and distributed ways of providing these. As such, like Kelly and Steven, Julie and Karol spoke of a new approach to the economy which broke with the GDP-centric orthodoxies of the last 40 years, identified spaces of social life not subject to competitive, transactional capitalism, and looked to forms of political economy that could build on these in an age of climate emergency.

To the question ‘are arts and culture part of the basic or foundational economy’, the answer in general was they are essential to any concept of the civilised life, but they are highly diverse and delivered by public, community, small scale local and large corporate actors. This is what makes them a distinct challenge. One of the FEC collaborators from Milan wrote:

“Beyond the debates around foundational economy vs tradable economy vs everyday economic taxonomies, I think there is a broader ‘foundational approach’. This is about recognising basics in a variety of areas – culture, sociability, sustenance, material comfort, physical health etc. – and make those basics accessible to all. For culture this means thinking about what the ‘cultural basics’ look like in a modern society and think about the organisations, systems and business model required to make those basics as accessible as possible. Here markets, social production and public provision have a role to play.”

This is the challenge for Reset.

This event took place on Thursday 17 June 2021at UniSA  

Reset #2: What What to do about Cultural Work after the Pandemic ?

This event was held at Adelaide City Lending Library, Rundle Mall, 7 May 2021

2.15      Bodies of Work: A Conversation between Ben Eltham (Monash; Guardian) and Bek Conroy.

The harsh realities of cultural work are much more acknowledged now than a decade ago, as funding cuts and precarious working conditions meet unaffordable housing, higher rents, student debt and the disappearance of creative spaces in cities. The opening session looked at these challenges via the Bodies of Work project at Vitalstatistix.

Ben spoke to Bek about her work Money Laundering, Dating an Economist, and the Marrickville School of Economics. The focus was on the realities of artistic work – conditions, pay, value, self-exploitation – and on how this related to more formal accounts of economic value. The latter to projects involving an artistic interrogation of the ideas of orthodox and heterodox economists. We will definitely be involving Bek and Ben in future activities.

3.15      Troy Henderson (University of Sydney; Australia Institute): Basic Income – what is it?

Troy’s presentation laid out in detail the history of UBI: ‘a periodic cash payment unconditionally delivered to all on an individual basis, without means-test or work requirement’. He looked at the pros and cons, addressing some of the common objections to the idea. He then focused on the potential for UBI in post-pandemic Australia. The detailed slides are attached and available on the Reset Website (under construction). Finally Troy made a suggestion for a Basic Income for Artists, and what that might entail – taking us through some basic figures and potential implementation process. (Troy and colleagues further discuss here).

4.00      Cooperatives in Art and Culture? Melina Morrison CEO Business Council of Cooperatives and Mutuals (BCCM)

Melina outlined what co-ops were: “A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise”. She showed how they had a long history in Australia, though this is now hardly visible. She then showed why they might be good for artists, using case studies of the London Symphony Orchestra, Stocksy, Only the Human (Perth), The New Internationalist, Associated Press, Progressive Broadcasting Service (Melbourne), Boomalli Aboriginal Artist Co-operative. BCCM was there to advise and support artists setting up co-operatives. Slides are attached and on the website.

4.30      Sarah de Heusch, Chargée d’Affaires Publiques, SMART

SMART is a freelancers Co-op, coming out of many years practice with an increasingly precarious cultural sector. As Sarah explained, SMART now supports freelancers across the board, with the cultural sector making up around half their members. The details of this project can be found on the SMART website, and in the Reset Reading (attached and on the reset website). We have a recording of Sarah’s talk, which is being edited and made available soon.