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FACING FACTS Cultural Policy Research and the ‘Known Unknowns’ Presentation at Making Culture Count Conference, Melbourne, May 2012 Dr. Michael Volkerling.

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Presentation on theme: "FACING FACTS Cultural Policy Research and the ‘Known Unknowns’ Presentation at Making Culture Count Conference, Melbourne, May 2012 Dr. Michael Volkerling."— Presentation transcript:

1 FACING FACTS Cultural Policy Research and the ‘Known Unknowns’ Presentation at Making Culture Count Conference, Melbourne, May 2012 Dr. Michael Volkerling Institute For Culture And Society

2 Measurement How we measure the production and consumption of cultural goods and services has a fundamental impact on government policies in support of culture. Australia is comparatively well resourced in terms of base data and regularly compiled statistics. But not all these data inform the policy process.

3 The ‘known knowns’ The most influential data are produced by the ABS and the Australia Council and reproduced by those who draw on its research hub. These headline data are what I have termed the ‘known knowns’.

4 Production, Consumption & Reward In 2009–10, 86% of the Australian population aged 15 years and over attended at least one cultural venue or event. 44,000 Australians earned their incomes from art-making in 2009. Only a few made a satisfactory income from their work. The median annual income for artists is $35,900.

5 A Simple Story These data suggest a simple cultural universe where artists generally enjoy full-time work, have a broad-based and attentive audience, but are poorly rewarded. They indicate a clear case of market failure and a justification for continuing arts subsidy. Sadly such conclusions are available only to the myopic.

6 Digging Deeper Attendance rates may be high overall, but the big ticket items are not those that enjoy public arts subsidy but commercial or free activities.

7 But the news gets worse. These minimal shares of the market have all declined since 2004.

8 Three to four times as many people with the highest gross household incomes attend the traditional performing arts than do those with the lowest gross household incomes (ABS, 2006).

9 Spending by Arts NSW analysed against the socio- economic status of the areas receiving the funding.

10 The falling audiences may be explained generationally. Data for the decade 1995-2006 shows a steady decline in attendances by the youngest adult cohort (18-24 years).

11 Within five years of completing their studies, 70% of creative arts graduates choose alternative careers.

12 The ‘known unknowns’ What are these ‘known unknowns’? They are data in the public domain which provide measures of cultural activity but where there is no consensus about what these measures mean. They are facts lacking interpretation. So what do they tell us?

13 A closer look at employment

14 Focus on Musicians

15 ABS Survey of Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities (Musicians)

16 Full-time employment not the norm ABS and other census-based data record information on a person’s main job in the week before the data is collected: these are the individuals who are regarded as full-time professional artists (even if they supplement their income from other work). Fifty years ago when the base for arts employment was being established by the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust (AETT) and the ABC maintained a significant core of professional musicians, it may have been reasonable to see this type of employment as normative. But the ‘known unknowns’ suggest that this model is now more the exception than the norm.

17 A new base for cultural development The Survey of Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities covers all cultural work including second jobs and both paid and unpaid involvement. The base for arts employment has been reconstituted and can no longer be equated with full-time employment. There is nothing unusual about this. In the 20 th century the pattern of adult work was based on 1-2 jobs for life predicated on the mastery of a single field. In the 21 st century the normative model will involve 10-15 jobs based on ‘the simultaneous mastery of rapidly changing fields’. By relying on the measurement of full-time work, the census tracking the features of a disappearing arts labour market? The ABS Survey of Work maps the emerging organisation of cultural work in the 21 st century. Much of this cultural work is under the statistical radar.

18 Informality Much of this activity is under the radar. Musicians provide a case in point. – Few if any of those in the Victorian sample earned a full-time living as performers. – Up to 30% of performance revenue is derived from merchandise and recorded music sales. – In some cases, in-kind compensation (meals, accommodation) is also provided. So these cultural workers are not conventionally employed, rewarded or measured. Non-music related work equals the proportion derived from live performance at approximately 40%. As a result, ‘the majority of people in the workforce target group are not included in official data and statistics’. This situation can be generalised beyond the music industry.

19 New technologies New media and new technologies have transformed arts practice since the 2002 Small Organisations report. Between 2004 and 2007 those involved in ‘creating artworks with a computer’ increased by 98% to constitute almost 52% (552,500) of the total paid cultural workforce. So if in 2002 cultural employment had decentralised to small and medium organisations, by 2012, it had dispersed further to uncountable microworlds – ‘small playgrounds of the mind’, but networked playgrounds.

20 Casualisation There is anecdotal evidence that more casualised forms of cultural work are becoming the norm. In Australia, these cultural workers have been identified as ‘slashies’:... that wave of young people who straddle industries and disciplines, defining themselves by several professions. Their identity (and income) is built around the fact they lead multidimensional lives. First there was the actor/model/singer. Now, a graphic designer will also own a small bar. A businessman will play in a band on weekends. A maths teacher will blog at night. Television presenters have their own fashion lines. Lawyers are now filmmakers too.

21 A preference for ‘crossover’ Varying work contexts seem to be a determining factor in structuring a creative career. In the US, a minority of artists choose to work exclusively in commercial (26%), non-profit (16%) or community contexts (7%). Instead they choose to move among these sectors fluidly (‘crossover’) and, if money were not an issue, most would cross over even more than they presently do.

22 New work practices These fluid work portfolios appear to be further changing arts practice. Younger artists are now ‘mixing up original creative work’, undertaking ‘collaborative ventures, study, travel and research’. They operate in contexts in which ‘new technologies can open up new opportunities and build global audiences for artists’.

23 Recent and Rapid Growth 2001 - 2007

24 Time for a Change By 2007 3.5 million people over 15 years (22% of the population) were involved in paid and unpaid cultural work, a 52% increase in 6 years. There are almost as many arts trained people employed in the other industries (47 percent) than there are in total in the arts industries (53 percent of all arts employment. Such data underline the extent to which arts practice has diverged from cultural policy. It’s time for a change.

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