Arts Facilitation and Creative Community Culture: A Study of Queensland Arts Council

Richards, Michael John (2005) Arts Facilitation and Creative Community Culture: A Study of Queensland Arts Council. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This thesis adopts a Cultural Industries framework to examine how Queensland's arts

council network has, through the provision of arts products and services, contributed

to the vitality, health and sustainability of Queensland's regional communities. It

charts the history of the network, its configuration and impact since 1961, with

particular focus on the years 2001 - 2004, envisages future trends, and provides an

analysis of key issues which may be used to guide future policies and programs.

Analysis is guided by a Cultural Industries understanding of the arts embedded in

everyday life, and views the arts as a range of activities which, by virtue of their

aesthetic and symbolic dimensions, enhance human existence through their impact

on both the quality and style of human life. Benefits include enhanced leisure and

entertainment options, and educational, social, health, personal growth, and

economic outcomes, and other indirect benefits which enrich environment and


Queensland Arts Council (QAC) and its network of branches has been a dominant

factor in the evolution of Queensland's cultural environment since the middle of the

20th century. Across the state, branches became the public face of the arts, drove

cultural agendas, initiated and managed activities, advised governments, wrote

cultural policies, lobbied, raised funds and laboured to realise cultural facilities and


In the early years of the 21st century, QAC operates within a complex, competitive

and rapidly changing environment in which orthodox views of development,

oriented in terms of a left / right, or bottom up / top down dichotomy, are breaking

down, and new convergent models emerge. These new models recognise synergies

between artistic, social, economic and political agendas, and unite and energise them

in the realm of civil society. QAC is responding by refocusing policies and programs

to embrace these new models and by developing new modes of community

engagement and arts facilitation.

In 1999, a major restructure of the arts council network saw suffragan branches

become autonomous Local Arts Councils (LACs), analogous to local Cultural

Industry support organisations. The resulting network of affiliated LACs provides a

potentially highly effective mechanism for the delivery of arts related products and

services, the decentralisation of cultural production, and the nurturing across the state

of Creative Community Cultures which equip communities, more than any other

single asset, to survive and prosper through an era of unsettling and relentless


Historical, demographic, behavioural (participation), and attitudinal data are

combined to provide a picture of arts councils in seven case study sites, and across

the network. Typical arts council members are characterised as omnivorous cultural

consumers and members of a knowledge class, and the leadership of dedicated

community minded people is identified as the single most critical factor determining

the extent of an LAC's activities and its impact on community.

Analysis of key issues leads to formulation of eight observations, discussed with

reference to QAC and LACs, which might guide navigation in the regional arts field.

These observations are then reformulated as Eight Principles Of Effective Regional

Arts Facilitation, which provide a framework against which we might evaluate arts

policy and practice.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 16036
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Wissler, Rodney, Spurgeon, Christina, & Frame, Arthur
Keywords: Civil Society, Community Arts, Community Cultural Development, Community Revitalisation, Community Engagement, Creative Class, Creative Industries, Cultural Policy, Excellence, Elite(s), Knowledge Class, Meritocracy, Regional Arts
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Department: Creative Industries
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Michael John Richards
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:55
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 14:40

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