Arts & Culture in the Interregnum: Imagining a different future

Date: Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Time: 12:00 am - 12:00 am (AEST, Brisbane time)
Location: Online (Zoom)
webinars 2021

The role of arts, culture and creativity is critically important to our vision of a ‘wellbeing economy’ and society. But given the challenges the arts sector has traditionally faced – and which have been exacerbated by COVID lockdowns and restrictions – what is the future of the arts sector and artists in Australia?


- Justin O’Connor -

Justin grew up in the North West of England and worked in art, popular culture and urban regeneration in Manchester, the UK, Western Europe, Russia, and East Asia. He was UNESCO expert under the 2005 Convention on Diversity of Cultural Expressions 2012-18. He’s author of Red Creative: Culture and Modernity in China and Creative Cities in Asia. His forthcoming book is Art of Reconstruction: Culture after Neoliberalism.

- Catherine van Wilgenburg -

Catherine's visual artworks articulate her awakenings in the never ending story of decolonisation; beginning with village life in Mt Hagen, Papua New Guinea; Grounding herself in Melbourne's West through protecting and maintaining the endangered grasslands, she co-designed and participated in a collaborative eco artwork 'Marsupial Masterpieces’.at Iramoo Wildflower Grassland Reserve, Cairnlea, Victoria . As Director of EcoArt Systems Australia, she is one of seventeen stakeholders in the Chain of Ponds Collaboration for the transformation of Moonee Ponds Creek, Melbourne into a natural waterway.
As NENA Arts and Culture Hub Convenor she works to grow regional hubs working to create an ecologically healthy and socially just society by transforming Australia’s economic system in which culture is core, not on the periphery.

- Matt Sykes -

Matt grew up at the intersection of Boonwurrung and Gunaikurnai Country in Gippsland, Victoria, Australia. His ancestors’ footsteps connect him to the Brigantes tribe of Celtic Britain, the Zillerthal Valley of Austria and Norway, while his professional background includes landscape architecture, environmental advocacy, tourism development and business consultancy. Learning from First Nations Elders as well as western Eco-pioneers has shaped Matt’s approach to tackling systemic global issues through regenerative business approaches.
· Facilitated by Dr Michelle Maloney, Director, NENA


Justin O’Connor - ‘Art in the interregnum'

The age of neoliberalism is (just about) dead, but we don’t yet know what comes after. Mainstream economics is under stress and new heterodox voices are emerging but still marginal. The various ‘green new deals’ in the US and EU, along with net-zero and ‘shared prosperity’ agendas in China point to a new role of the state, for social services and infrastructure. Yet still sustainability is rubbing shoulders with growth. Culture, which barely appears at all in these new agendas, is stuck in settings from the 1990s. This might have served it well in an age of the ‘knowledge economy’ and ‘creative industries’, but these are now pretty much over. Culture needs to find its voice in this new landscape, not just for its own sake but because without culture this landscape will be seriously constricted. What would a new vision for art and culture look like? How would it help articulate a ‘new economy’ and the new society this would entail?

Catherine van Wilgenburg - 'Arts & Culture connecting to country and community'

Arts & Culture is now code for entertainment, especially since COVID 19. But there are many artists and cultural workers working to centre creative critical thinking in their cross sectoral practice. Catherine will present her and other artist's works. Connecting to country and community these artists are creating new ways to work collaboratively with local small business, schools, environment groups and local & state government in communities in crisis with climate change, bush fires and the pandemic.
Matt Sykes - 'From Designer to Design-thinking in business’
Reflecting on his evolution from landscape architect to environmental advocate, tourism operator and developer, now business consultant, Matt will talk about the ways that design influences his day to day work. “I'll reflect on my own transition out of conventional design profession (landscape architecture) and into a business approach that includes design-thinking.” This may provide an example for others with creative backgrounds and training to reimagine how they see themselves and how to reposition their work to address systemic global issues in innovative ways.