Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Supporting Culture

Nicole Durling, Mona co-director of exhibitions and collections, with Dots Obsession, an artwork featured in the new On the Origin of Art exhibition. Picture: Nikki Davis-Jones.

Rupert Myer, Talking Point: Art + passion = community on our island, Mercury, 18 November 2016

My hunch is that Tasmania is one of the places on the planet that truly, madly, deeply gets why supporting the arts makes sense for everyone.

You are first among the growing number of Australians who experience and participate in the arts as part of their every day, and you already believe the arts enrich and create meaning in peoples’ lives, that they have capacity to unify communities, activate spaces, promote sustainable development, investment, tourism and economic activity, supplement education and improve health, increase wellbeing and shine the spotlight on local, national and global issues.

These are often referred to as the instrumental benefits of the arts, that is, what the arts do. They are quantifiable and demonstrably prove the link between the arts and great community outcomes. Of course, they are inextricably linked to the intrinsic cultural benefits and these are harder to measure with precision.

In an attempt to channel some of these intrinsic benefits, I am going to share a couple of observations.

Recently, I was sitting at the entrance to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation, close to closing time, between an elderly man and the person on reception. The visitor wanted to speak with someone at the museum who could assist him in determining whether some skeletal remains he had found near his home were of a thylacine. That is meaningful.

Each one of us has links with our cultural institutions: a sense of being part of them, not apart from them, a feeling of belonging, attachment, accessibility, proprietorship even. We perceive them as informed, authoritative and influential in the curated experiences they create for us, and as places of exchange, pleasure, delight as well as awkwardness, confrontation, disappointment, enlightenment, challenge.

A few weeks ago, on a cold winter day at dusk, I sat in the pavilion at the Glenorchy Art and Sculpture Park.

What a brilliant, tough inner urban opportunity, squat and lithe, translucent, perched on the edge of endless possibilities.

What a discovery for me and for which GASP’s director Jonathan Kimberley is no doubt growing a compelling vision.

Up the road at Contemporary Art Tasmania there is an exhibition of paintings, Tiefenzeit, by Australian artist Tricky Walsh, culmination of a three-month Australia Council residency last year at one of the most influential residency programs in London.

In literature, in addition to obvious examples of some of the world’s greatest authors living here, just this week, Sarah Holland-Batt, who is poetry editor of Island Mag, was awarded a Prime Minister’s literary Award for her book, The Hazards.

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