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Art, Craft and the Future of Cultural Policy in the Creative Economy: A vie...

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Edinburgh College of Art

Hunter Lecture Theatre

Lauriston Campus

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EH3 9DF

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Prof Deborah Stevenson (Western Sydney University) and Prof Susan Luckman (University of South Australia)

ECA, Hunter Building, O17, 6-8pm 26th September

Prof Deborah Stevenson: The Unfashionable Cultural Worker? Considering the Demography and Practice of Artists in Greater Western Sydney

Urban cultural policy is increasingly formulated with a focus on economic development and city reimaging rather than the priorities and experiences of local artists and cultural workers, while approaches embedded in a creative industries/creative cities framework, implicitly imagine creative workers to be ‘young, ‘hip’, male, urban, and highly mobile’. Drawing on the findings of a major study of creative practice and cultural planning in Australia’s most culturally and demographically diverse urban area, Greater Western Sydney, this paper considers the creative, biographical and social profile of local cultural workers. It argues that the typical cultural worker is not the imagined artist of creative industries-informed urban cultural policy nor are they generally considered in cultural policy studies accounts of creative work. They are older, predominantly female, highly educated, and not particularly mobile. They are also actively engaged with local creative communities and networks but do not fit established community arts and cultural development paradigms. The paper contends that it is necessary to develop more inclusive explanatory frameworks of cultural labour along with a more variegated approach to local cultural policy where the starting point will be creative workers not creative economies.

Prof Susan Luckman: People, Places, and Processes: Crafting Authenticity Through Situating the Local in the Global

Craft and design-led creative economies are presently enjoying a moment of growth, driven by consumer demand for unique, innovative and/or handmade objects. Though the primary market for such goods is among relatively privileged citizens of the Global north, having developed alongside a parallel rise in awareness of the exploitative labour and materials practices of fast fashion, the supply chains around craft simultaneously privilege both the hyper-local and a sense of the cosmopolitan global. Therefore craft and design-led creative economies enable all kinds of opportunities for de-centralised creative practice beyond the urban locations previously privileged as densely clustered sites for creative ‘industrialisation’. They also fit neatly in with consumer desires to ‘discover’ the different, unique, distinctive in the face of globalised supply chains and increasingly identical retail brand offerings around the Global north. Distinct local economies and their products are valuable points of difference in the wider shift to niche authenticities and place-based marketing, for, like food-centred practices, place-based as well as maker story provenance is fundamental here. Drawing upon data from a 3 year study of Australian designer makers, this presentation will problematize creativity as mobility for what is actually being revealed in this research are globally aware but nonetheless markedly hyper-local creative economies. So while locally-made handcrafted objects may be valued as unique souvenirs of place and relationship and thus themselves travel translocally, the site of the making and sale remains very local as part of an ethics of direct contact between producers and consumers. The localism of these transactions is even being replicated digitally where the logistics of personal capital within (social media) networks are a key source of marketing and thus sales, often return sales, for makers.

Deborah Stevenson is a Professor of Sociology and Urban Cultural Research in the Institute for Culture and Society whose research activities and interests are focused in particular on arts and cultural policy, cities and urban life, and place and identity. She has published widely on these topics including the recent books, The City (Polity), Cities of Culture: A Global Perspective (Routledge) and Tourist Cultures: Identity, Place and the Traveller (co-authored, Sage). In addition, she is co-editor of the Research Companion to Planning and Culture (Ashgate) and Culture and the City: Creativity, Tourism, Leisure (Routledge). Professor Stevenson is an editor of the Journal of Sociology and the Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events and a member of the editorial boards of leading journals, including the International Journal of Cultural Policy.

Susan Luckman is Professor: Cultural Studies in the School of Communication, International Studies and Languages and Associate Director: Research and Programs of the Hawke EU Centre for Mobilities, Migrations and Cultural Transformations. She is also Cheney Fellow at the University of Leeds, 2017-2018. Susan is the author of the books Craft and the Creative Economy (Palgrave Macmillan 2015) and Locating Cultural Work: The Politics and Poetics of Rural, Regional and Remote Creativity (Palgrave Macmillan 2012), co-editor of The ‘New Normal’ of Working Lives: Critical Studies in Contemporary Work and Employment (Dynamics of Virtual Work Series, Palgrave 2018), Craft Economies (Bloomsbury 2017), Craft Communities (Bloomsbury 2018), and Sonic Synergies: Music, Identity, Technology and Community (Ashgate 2008), and author of numerous book chapters, peer-reviewed journal articles and government reports on cultural work, creative industries and creative micro-entrepreneurialism. She is currently Chief Investigator on a 3 year Australian Research Council Discovery Project 'Promoting the Making Self in the Creative Micro-economy’.

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Edinburgh College of Art

Hunter Lecture Theatre

Lauriston Campus

Edinburgh

EH3 9DF

United Kingdom

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