Interviewer by sofiaie

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									Department of Culture and the Arts




                                        PAUL SLOAN
                                     Umbrella Policy Forums



So I‟d like to talk in like pretty probably offensive terms to some of the people here. But I
take a really broad view, I think people often get really tied down with sort of small details
and things get more and more complicated and it seems like sort of Government and
particularly it‟s handling of arts and culture and creative economies is sort of becomes like
a tax system after a while where no one kind of gets it and some people get some money
and some people don‟t.

And I think we need to break it back down to core principle and start again if you‟re going
to go in a new era, or maybe a more dynamic era of funding. So I have all these kind of
weird perceptions on things that I‟ll share with you for the next few minutes.

So basically I‟m going to break down Government‟s role as a really simple principle that‟s
trying to make a sustainable society enabling all its people the best possible life. Sounds
okay doesn‟t it really? Now if that‟s the case then why is, you know consistently, is the sort
of influence of the Department of Culture and the Arts not a high priority if that‟s the
outcome we‟re after. I think people mis-understand the importance of creative economy in
actually achieving that sole aim.

So if you look at say the influence of media cycle on government currently often we have
an issue presented to our society and at the moment say it might be the alcohol industry
for example. And they always role out a policeman or something to talk about it, as their
representative of government. And it‟s because of the media‟s influence, the media would
like to present it as an urgent situation and often I think Government‟s response is then
you know what‟s going to seem more meaningful and make people feel safe. So they‟ll
get a policeman to talk about what they think is a good idea. Now, policeman are there to
handle the outcomes of our society not to create the outcomes and that is the job of
departments like Culture and the Arts.

So I‟ll propose this situation to you, this is the Perth line, the green line. What we need to
do in Perth to improve ourselves and to be a better town is to increase the level of cultural
and social experience of everybody. Which means getting them out of the house more
ultimately. Now, the more people go out and the more experienced they become the more

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tolerant they become of other people, they more they are likely to find things that they
enjoy, they are more likely to find people that they like. The less experience you give
people the reverse is true. Obviously, the more you go out, the also less influenced by
media. Now, if you‟re less influenced by media, than the media cycle is less important to
Government so they‟re more likely to hear the Department of the Culture and the Arts and
other more sort of core sort of parts of Government that define us I suppose. So what I
say is that any new era of creative economy needs to really try to get the whole of
Government to understand how important Culture and the Arts is at achieving this single
goal, for getting people to go out more ultimately.

How do we do that? How do we get someone to go out of their house six times a week
instead of once, to go an actively do something and engage with society. Certainly the
shopping centre sort of principle of planning has been a disaster for us. Because it doesn‟t
allow small tenancies, they‟re purely commercial spaces they are out of the reach of
creative business mostly. They tend to have franchises which obviously lack, like they
become sort of homogenous I suppose, and in turn everyone looks the same and buys the
same stuff, right. So on the trip to the shopping centre you don‟t really pass anything
creative either. So how do we get people out and more engaged in the street? Planning
is a disaster in Perth and I think we all kind of understand it, you know we‟re a city
designed around peaks. Like we have Northbridge, disaster two nights a week, then it
goes through a very low level of performance the rest of the week. You know when you go
to a place where there‟s a good mix down the street, there‟s parking is sort of quite busy
all the time, breakfast time, lunch time and dinner time, after hours. It‟s a much more
sensible use of resources for starters. But it also exposes people to a wider variety of
more interesting things. Which allows them to discover themselves.

So in terms of getting people out more, if I go out six time, or four times a week for ten
years, I‟m going out 2000 times. I would say to you I‟m more likely, I‟ll either be in gaol or
I‟ll be a better citizen than the person that‟s going out one time a week for the same period.
Who‟s in that whole period he‟s only gone out 500 times, I think the amounts are right.

So, what we need to do is get people out more ultimately. And what are the barriers to
that at the moment? If I want to go out on a Monday night, how do I find out what‟s going
on in Western Australia there is absolutely no single document, there is no single resource
I can hit that tells me what‟s on tonight or tomorrow night or the night after. There‟s a
niche publications which tend to service a niche. They don‟t expose me to other things


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that I might actually be actively interested in doing. So you know we obviously have other
issues like small issues, like no transport. You know regularity barriers and again, sort of
horrendous planning. And we‟ve got government that‟s often performing on a media cycle
it‟s not actually trying to do things with substance for the long term because it‟s not really
what the media‟s after. And they are trying to make themselves look good obviously.

So, in terms of this, if Perth can raise itself to this level reduce our media influence and get
out more, then how do we do that? And I‟ll just propose a few ideas before I move on, I‟ll
talk for hours about this stuff really. So, why is there no cultural publication that has
everything that‟s on in this week in Perth? And why isn‟t it for that matter in a TV guide? I
should have some reason not to watch From Ladette to Lady. And I would hope it would
be a gallery opening or something much more substantial, although it is a cool show.

So, the zoning protection, we go through a boom, great everyone is so happy there is so
much money around. Money doesn‟t make people happy ultimately. You go back to this
core principle, and get twenty people in a room and if ten of those people have engaged
themselves in creative economy and followed their soles through their lives, I think you‟ll
find that they are probably happier than people who‟ve worked a lot and got a lot of money
and bought stuff. Ultimately that‟s what it does for you at the end of the day. So, we need
to consider the size of tenancies that when developments are occurring. Why isn‟t there
something that makes developments you know agree to have smaller tenancies and
possibly to even have certain areas zoned specifically for cultural use. So that any boom
in property value doesn‟t effect them so greatly because they are limited in their use, they
can only ever be for that purpose. They do this in New York to make sure there is a local
butcher. Because if the butcher shop was for sale, and someone was to move in and turn
it into something else, but they are trying to retain the amenity for their people, that‟s a
smart thing to do right? I like sausages.

So, Local Governments I mean I‟ll just pick one out of the, say the Margaret River for
example that region, has got a gross sort of over indulgence in activities for over 50‟s
because it‟s self perception is that I don‟t know that whole area is made of chardonnay, I
think people have chardonnay in their blood down there. But I did a presentation recently
the young people down there you can see how they don‟t feel that they‟re accepted in their
community because there is nothing really done for them that acknowledges their
existence as people. So maybe to make local government qualify for their funding, maybe
they should have to present a cultural calendar per year and prove that they are actually


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Department of Culture and the Arts


providing things for all of their people. Cause ultimately if you provide things for everybody
then they feel like they are part of the community it makes sense.

And then maybe look at the alcohol situation, you‟ve got the police telling everyone that it‟s
evidence of a disaster, they‟ll sometimes cut to the health guy who‟s saying I‟ve seen 100
damaged livers this week. It‟s terrible. What‟s the policy? 15% or something of the total
volume of liquor sold is through bars and nightclubs. And all of the policy is making those
businesses less viable, so all that‟s happening is that we‟re having an expansion of bulk
cheap liquor at retail. It‟s closing down social spaces. It‟s closing down performance
spaces. And it‟s actually making liquor more affordable. All the policy I‟m hearing is
saying stay at home and get smashed „cause then the police don‟t have any work to do.
What they should be saying is let‟s stop people buying two bottles of vodka for fifty dollars
and get them into a monitored environment where they‟ve got something else to do.
Maybe see some entertainment or some culture of some sort. Fantastic, let‟s get them
engaged with each other.

So, I think this is the key problem and I think all policy should always come back to
engagement of people, getting people both, people who want to participate as artists and
people who want to participate as audience. And exposing them to as many things as
possible, as much as possible, so they can find themselves. And they can have an identity
that defines their life in some ways. I can remember critical moments in my life where I
was, where that one track I heard of some music somewhere has completely sent me on
my journey. And if I hadn‟t been active at that time, I might well be a really sad person
now potentially. I am actually quite happy just to clarify.

So, how long have a I got?

[Woman says “a couple of minutes”]

Oh, I missed the five minute thing. So the other important thing, that‟s the bigger picture,
but we‟ve also got to recognise structure of each creative sector, to understand what‟s
happening to it. And I think people miss things a lot. And I‟ll use the music industry as a
great example of this. There‟s a period of where we had active publicans who wanted to
have music in their venues. So it‟s wasn‟t necessarily for money at that time. So we then
entered this period of having issues with noise problems, shutting down venues because
of again, policy from some other department effecting culture and the arts. Then there is
this big battle, so what does culture and the arts do, there is no policy change to protect

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those businesses, there‟s actually some money put aside to make them not as noisy. But
of course, since that period we‟ve had a boom and so property values have gone up. The
pubs are now moving into more corporate ownership models through Woolworth and
Coles essentially who are demolishing the spaces to become retail. So they are gone
forever as social public spaces. Remember pubs used to be called public houses for a
reason it‟s a meeting place for local people. These things are disappearing, it‟s terrible.

So I see that and think well hang on, sound attenuation policies are only good if there is
sound coming out of the damn places, right? So now there is retail coming out, you don‟t
need the sound attenuation because to sell a bottle of vodka doesn‟t make a lot of noise.
So need to then look at hang on we made need to encourage these publican‟s to have
music, so maybe subsidies then for production or some other issue might keep them in the
market as venues and if that fails and they continue to sell, which it‟s probably actually too
late, it maybe a situation after that where you actually have to look at acquiring spaces for
these things.        As you have done for theatre or you‟ve secured things for the world‟s
biggest cover band. So, that was a WASA joke, by the way.

So in terms of that like when the Civic Theatre restaurant gets sold, and it‟s this awesome
space, it‟s already set up ready for a good entry level sort of cultural activity like music and
that thing get demolished as it has been and then a cinema in town gets demolished, all
these places go away. I wonder, once Woolworth and Coles own all the venues, like I‟ve
probably lost 60,000 or 70,000 tickets this year to venue closures. So in other words,
towns that I would have taken culture to are not getting 70,000 hits on culture for the
people on those towns because the venues have actually gone, because they‟ve been
taken over by corporate.

Now that‟s getting worse, but no grant it going to save that and no subsidy either. Once
the real estate is gone it‟s gone forever. And that‟s, understanding that structure of that
industry, and how people get into things, you can see it when things are going pear
shaped and you do sometimes need to say there‟s grant thing isn‟t right, we need to be
more aggressive in this particular sector, you know. You can‟t always rely on someone
who‟s got no money trying to open a shop up to save the world. Sometimes you have to
say, let‟s buy those shops and let‟s give her a shop because that‟s a great idea, or let‟s
subsidize or let‟s zone that for that purpose. Let‟s zone it for under 25 creative economy
businesses, or something that secures those spaces.

I‟m actually getting close now, should I sit down and shut up?

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Department of Culture and the Arts


So, that‟s that example over.

The last point is the other thing that depresses me looking at Western Australia‟s
performance generally. I do spend a lot of time with international artists travelling the
country and so I‟m with quite large groups of discerning people who are telling me what
they think of each town as they go. Sometimes I admit I‟m from Perth and sometimes I
don‟t depending on their experience here. But the reality is that I would love to see it if the
funding was more, hosting things is not anything to write home about or to be excited
about necessarily. Like I‟d like to boast about unique Western Australian things and that
ultimately is going to protect us in the future. This next period coming up as travel gets
more expensive, we‟re relying on international events or buying for stupid money
international events to try and look like we‟re huge. You bring them into a place where
there is a shortage of accommodation, there‟s lock-outs in places potentially coming,
there‟s terrible service in restaurants and cafes because of labour shortages. It‟s not, what
are we promoting there exactly? Like come and have a crack time is not a good logo for
Perth.

So, the concept of actually looking at the funding in terms of this stuff, engaging the,
raising our own level of activity means more expenditure on creative economies. More
discerning people require more discerning products, which opens opportunities in business
for more discerning creative business people.         And that is what‟s going to fund our
economy to become sustainable it‟s opening up this and getting our level. If we get to
much lower down here, we‟ll start growing hairs and slouching again. We need to get
back up here, and that‟s all I‟ve got to say.

Thanks.




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