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.
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.
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.
On Friday 16 April 2021 we held a round table discussion with all three universities and representatives from the arts and culture sector to test our diagnosis that there are significant problems in the sector, a need for different approaches to create an opportunity for a Reset.