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Stories & Ideas

Tue 27 Feb 2024

Future Audiences – FACT 2024 Symposium

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Your museum of screen culture

How do cultural institutions keep pace with both the demographic and behavioural changes in our communities?

Over the past decade the audiences of cultural institutions have been changing – sometimes slowly, sometimes all at once. Yet there is some inertia to contend with when keeping pace with both the demographic and behavioural changes in our communities. The pandemic-pause and cost of living pressures have made the imperative to change ever more urgent. What are the implications for the types of creative and artistic programs that organisations choose to present with, and celebrate from, their communities? What needs to change to present these works in new, more accessible and approachable ways? What structural changes are coming? And what are the practical learnings that can be implemented now?


Dr Anne Kershaw (Deakin University), Jade Lillie (Relationship Is The Project), Fiona Tuomy (The Other Film Festival), Subhadra Mistry (City of Casey). Moderated by Dr Britt Romstad (ACMI)

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Watch the video with graphic notations by Jessamy Gee

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This transcript was machine-generated and published for search and accessibility purposes. It may contain errors.

Hi everyone. My name is Britt Romstad. My pronouns are she, her, and I'm ACMI's Executive Director of Experience and Engagement. I'd like to start by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the lands and waterways of greater Melbourne, the people of the Kulin Nation, and recognise that we are located here today at ACMI in this cinema on the lands of the Wurundjeri people. I pay my respects to elders past and present and warmly acknowledge all first peoples here with us today. So I'm really delighted to be here this afternoon to moderate what I'm sure is going to be a very lively and challenging conversation about future audiences with this incredible bunch of panellists who have each done a lot of work in this space across a range of contexts. The pitch for our session this afternoon tells us that over the past decade the audiences of cultural institutions have been changing, sometimes slowly, sometimes all at once, and yet there is some inertia to contend with when keeping pace with the demographic and behavioural changes in our communities. And the idea that this is inertia, which is an interestingly passive word, is something that I think we'll all poke at a little bit this afternoon. As Seb reminded us yesterday morning at the start of the symposium, arts and culture have the potential to provide us all with reassurance, to provide connection with others, and a space to hold difficult conversations. And culture is the glue that can hold our communities together or pull them apart. And at a moment in history when we're really seeing a profound challenge to social cohesion, the work of connecting people is really urgent. And yet the research shows that while we've seen these really widespread demographic changes in our communities, broadly speaking, arts audiences remain persistently white, educated, middle-aged, and more often than not they're from non-deaf and non-disabled communities. Both attendance and creative participation in the arts decreases with household income. So if we're prepared to put aside for just a moment the principles of cultural equity, the understanding that everyone has a right to participate in arts and culture and enjoy the rich experience these afford, this persistently uneven participation points to, I would suggest, a bit of an existential problem for publicly funded organisations whose value is really only demonstrated when a broad and diverse group of people have access to their benefits. As we'll discuss over the next hour or so, what our future audiences will look like will in no small way be determined by whether or not organisations from the very small to the large are willing and able to make the widespread structural changes necessary to create space for different voices. Power really sits at the heart of this conversation. And this is a conversation that is actually much less about audiences and the things we need to do to them or at them to acquire them, as it is about the changes we need to make to our own organisations in order to create genuinely safe spaces that are ready for diverse and representative mix of human beings. Today we'll discuss a range of organisational practices, many of which have been developed outside the boundaries of larger cultural organisations, in the art of suburbs, in community arts organisations and within a more flexible festival model that demonstrate inertia is actually not an inevitable response to this wicked problem. These stories will show us a clear direction, I think, and demonstrate that when we're prepared to create space for shared agency and shared outcomes, when we replace inertia with intentionality, positive change is actually possible. So with that said, let me introduce you to this panel. We have with us today, so I'll go in the order I have sitting next to me, Fiona Tuomy is next to me and Fiona is an award-winning screenwriter, director, producer and developer working across storytelling genres and platforms. A proud disabled woman, Fiona is recognised as a leader in the design and delivery of disability-led screen and arts sector development programmes and has worked in leadership and education roles in the screen, arts, literary and disability sectors. Currently, Fiona works at Arts Access Victoria as manager of digital innovation and artistic director of the Other Film Festival. Next to her we have Dr Anne Kershaw, who is a senior lecturer and course coordinator with the Arts and Cultural Management programme in the Deakin Business School. Anne continues to investigate collaborative practice and organisational change in the arts and creative sectors and today she's going to share with us some of the insights gained from a project she's currently working on, which looks at changing arts organisations to diversify audiences. We have Jade Lilley, who is known for her work as a leader, an executive facilitator and specialist in community and stakeholder engagement. Jade works as a consultant, facilitator and advisor for organisations and has worked in the government, local, state, federal and not-for-profit sectors with experience in regional, remote and metropolitan locations across Australia and South East Asia. She's worked in intercultural environments for 20 years and the second expanded edition of the book she's edited, The Relationship is the Project, has just been published, it's hot off the press, right? There it is, beautiful. And we have Subhadra Mistry, who is a Melbourne-based arts administrator. She's strategic lead for arts and culture services in one of Victoria's fastest growing local government areas, the city of Casey. And Subhadra previously lead the arts funding portfolio at the Ian Potter Foundation and the Ian Potter Cultural Trust. And as I mentioned, I'm the executive director of experience and engagement here at ACMI, where I've worked, I'm embarrassed to admit, for more than 20 years. And most of this time has been spent in close proximity, both with the visitors to our museum and the people who look after them when they're here. My work is focused really on building a reciprocity between those two groups. We're not going to be doing presentations today. This will be a bit of a conversation between all of these incredible people. But we'll make sure we get time to hear their stories. But I'd like to start with you, Anne, because Anne has got, can share some work with us that really provides a snapshot, I think, of the current state of play across Australian arts and cultural organisations. Changing Organisations to Diversify Arts Audiences reports on a national survey, which was undertaken in 2022 in collaboration with a cross-organisational team. And it set out to identify the work needed to shift the social profile of audiences to include more First Nations people, deaf and disabled communities, and those from different cultures, age groups, locations, and sexual and gender identities. Rather than focusing on audience development, where the lens for this type of work has so often been trained, the project identified that changing and diversifying audiences requires change to the practice of creative organisations. And the project developed a model to describe this change. So Anne, if we can start off, can you talk us through what made the project team understand, really, that this is where the work needs to be done? Thanks, Brett. Just to explain, we see this issue of audience diversification as a sticky issue or a wicked problem in the arts, because it's something that we've kind of been aware of and talking about for years. But despite this attention and despite these discussions, particularly in the publicly funded arts sector, there's still a lack of, there's been no shift in the social profile of audiences. So because it's a long issue that we seem to be struggling to find solutions to, we see it as sort of a wicked or a sticky problem. And the fact that it seems so entrenched as an issue made us realise that we needed to be really critical about how it had been approached in the past. The usual approach, the traditional approach, in many cases, is a focus on audience development. So we want new and different audiences to come and be part of our theatre companies, our museums, our galleries, whatever, and this is across all different kinds of arts organisations. We want new and different audiences or people engaging and participating in our work, therefore we need to be doing audience development work. And what comes from this attention to audience development is that it kind of puts the issue and the problem, if there's a problem, onto the audience. So audience development thinks about the motivation, the ability, the capacity of an audience to be engaged in what you're offering. Often it's based in education programs, so it's about teaching people to be interested in engaging in the arts. And all this puts attention and focus and lays the issue with the audience or with communities. And if you kind of flip that, it's like what's the organisation bringing to this relationship? And what we've come to through our research is a sense that it's actually organisational practice that rules in some audience members and at the same time excludes others. It's about organisational practice and what that contributes to the relationship. We're not the only people who brought this organisational focus to the issue. We build a lot, for example, on the work of Bob Harlow who comes from the US, but certainly thinking about audience diversification not from an audience development perspective but from the organisational perspective is still fairly new, is still fairly unusual. And what we can now bring is we've got five plus years of research in an Australian specific context to what organisational behaviour, what organisational practice brings to audience diversification. So part of the project, well one of the, I guess the outcomes is the development of your model for change. So do you want to tell us a bit about the model that came out of this work? Yep, I can do. I know that we're a discussion panel and I'm just going to do that dreadful academic kind of thing. Can I throw to a slide please? Just to be visual rather than paint a picture in words. So this is, we call it, it's an eight task model and it's the model that we think audience centric practice looks like. It's a sequential process, it's a dynamic process, it's not that we start at task one and we move through to task eight, but this is essentially what's underpinning our research here. So we see that there's eight tasks involved in being audience centric and there's eight tasks in the work and organisations likely to do if it's going to be successful engaging diverse audiences and engaging new audiences. So just, it's there nice and big on the screen for you, but task one is actually recognising that this is an issue and that your organisation needs to change and the sector needs to change. Task two is about having a target audience. Who is it that you want to engage in this work and so on? And I won't talk through it all because it's here in front of you, but it's eight tasks, not necessarily sequential, it's a dynamic process, but this is the organisational practice that we think is needed to diversify your audiences. And then we've also identified in this that for each of these tasks some organisations might be embracing this kind of work. That is, you know, for each of the tasks some organisations absolutely are out there doing amazing things. Similarly, there's some organisations that we think for each of these tasks might be actively or passively avoiding this kind of work and then there's a whole lot in the middle who are either confused, learning still, might not have the resources, might not have the skills or are half-hearted about it. There's a whole lot. So we acknowledge that the terms are kind of clunky still, but we have a sense that there's leaders, avoiders and adapters of this work. So that's our eight task change model. I do like those words. I am interested in finding out and perhaps you can tell us, are there some organisations or types of organisations that are better at this than others? So I mean, yeah, talk to us about whether or not leaders, adapters and avoiders are kind of, if that's a clear cut, yeah, journey for some organisations. So what we've done, one of the big first phases of this research was we did a big national survey as you mentioned back in 2022. So we did a survey of arts organisations across the country. We worked with Creative Australia who along with the Ian Potter Foundation are one of the funders of this work. We worked with state and territory arts bodies as well. We worked with a number of peak bodies and we were thrilled to work for example with the MAGA helped us roll out this survey. Our survey was supported by over 180 arts organisations, all different sizes, locations across the country and we had responses to the survey from over a thousand arts workers. What we found from this is that organisations are generally adapters of this kind of work. So maybe if I could go back to the first slide again and I'll just, from my notes here, let you know what we found in the survey. We found from the survey, so across the board most organisations are adapters. So not quite sure what's involved, still skilling themselves up, might not, they've got the resources, might be half-hearted about this work. We're not sure. This is our further investigation. But we found that there were some of these steps where there were leaders of this work. So leaders, tasks where arts organisations in Australia are doing strong work, they're leading in this kind of audience centric practice. Things like recognising the need for change. That's the thing that we're strongest at. It's like we seriously get that this is an issue, is what we found from our survey. Researching audience is a fairly strong area of work as well. Undertaking evaluation and reflective practice is something that we see organisations doing a lot of. But we found a lot of evidence of what we call avoider behaviour. Avoider behaviour was things like being really clear and specific about who is the audience that you're wanting to engage and particularly looking for diversity within the diversity of that audience group. So being really clear about who you want to engage is not strong practice. Programming in response to that target audience is not necessarily a strong thing. But what we really found is that programming was an issue. There's a lot of reluctance that anyone outside the organisation is going to be making programming decisions. This was strongly avoidant, wasn't it? It really was. So that was sort of the summary of our findings. But nothing we can say specifically about this art form is doing it is more audience centric in their work. We thought maybe smaller to medium sized organisations might be better, not necessarily the case. We thought maybe regional organisations might be better, not necessarily the case. So we're still looking for the trends in where the strong practice might be, where the leader work might be, but we're still deeper diving to exactly what's happening in different kinds of organisations. Yeah, it's really interesting. There's no clear cut kind of line across those organisations. And it feels like there's really, what is required to move into that leader terrain is that intentionality and a full kind of embrace of the change process as opposed to that inertia we talked about earlier. And while we can say there aren't clear patterns, we have seen evidence, and Jade I'll kind of throw to you, we've seen evidence of small to medium sized organisations moving the dials really in making sustained change. And I'd love it if you can talk to us. You spent a number of years as the director and CEO of Footscray Community Arts. And during that time, the organisation changed radically. So can you tell us a bit about the work you did there and what came out of it, what you learnt from that? Thank you. Hello everyone and to technology and traditional owners of the lands we're gathering today. And I always am reminded that we have the real privilege of talking about a thing called culture which is really from the longest living culture in the world. And what an incredible privilege to sit here and have conversations about it in relation to the ways that we work. Footscray Community Arts, for anyone who doesn't know, is Australia's longest running community engaged contemporary arts centre. Maybe some would say the biggest, but you know, arguably. And it's based in Melbourne's west. It was founded by a group of meat worker unionists, which I think is a really important thing to mention because it was founded on principles of democracy, participation and politics. And fun fact, the same group of people founded the community health centre in Melbourne's west as well. So the two sort of key parts of infrastructure for that particular set of meat worker union representatives was an art centre and a health centre and both are still existing today. It's a place that when I at least started there was one in the fastest growing region in Australia. It still is to an extent. It's just moved a little further west. 130 different cultural groups, 150 languages, 30% of the Victorian Aboriginal population resided there and 20 to 25% of people were either born in or from south or south east Asia. So I guess in a lot of ways, everything we did had to honour, respond to and elevate that context. And truly, I think you asked me to think about what projects happened there, but for me, it's great community arts was the project and everything we did was one piece of work. But the most important thing was saying yes when other institutions were saying no and being really clear about who we were engaging and thinking about who we were relating to and with everything that we did. It's an extraordinary place and I think Claire Reddington yesterday, it was such a great presentation if you hear Claire, talked about stewardship, not ownership and that fundamentally is really how I felt about my time there as well. The opportunity to just really respond and reflect and enable and support what other people wanted to do and fight hard to make it possible. And what were some of the things that you did that you could see really making positive change? Advertising in the local paper. The moment we started advertising jobs in the local paper and programming in the local paper, more people started coming through the doors who we'd never seen before. The moment we set about intentionally increasing diversity within the team, we saw that reflected in our audience base almost automatically, almost immediately. And quite often people are promoting programs and things on billboards or online or in Arts Hub and such which are really important platforms. But actually what's the thing that goes into people's letter boxes whether they own that house or they don't, whether they have a computer or a laptop or they don't, is that little dirty local newspaper that has every single thing in it. And so the moment we started to do that we saw a real shift. So we talk about innovation in such a sort of broad and exciting way and actually I think sometimes innovations are also back to basics. So that was really one of the things that I'm proud of doing and something that I think really resulted in a lot of change. Yeah, I think it was also just back to that initial point around being really aware what other organisations were saying no to. It's like oh we're not ready for that idea or that idea doesn't belong here. And I spoke, every artist that wanted to speak to me I spoke to and quite often and particularly artists of colour would say no one's ever really heard my idea out in full. Like it's such a good idea. Let's see if we can do it. So I think it is about that saying yes and being very clear about what you are agreeing to saying yes to and elevating in the context of what you're being offered and what you are responsible to because ultimately that place is in service of the communities. I think every institution, place and organisation is. That's what we're here for. We had in the lead up to this we had some interesting conversations about audience and how we talk about audience and the relationship with the audience and the organisation and I guess problematising the kind of hard boundaries between us and our audiences and you shared with us that when you were at Footscray Community Arts that you banned the audience engagement strategy and audience development strategies. Talk to us about that. I think I only banned petting zoos and racism but I definitely encouraged everybody to stop talking about audiences and start interchangeably using words like communities, artists, participants, visitors, residents because I think by using the term audience we're othering people. I'm an audience member, you're an audience member, everyone in here is an audience member. We also work in this space, we're also artists but actually if we think about communities, we think about relationships, we have a different approach then. And I guess at the time I used to think about curating as like a present. You don't give your friend a present that they've never wanted before or known about. If your friend loves gardening you might give them a really beautiful plant and then you might think okay I'm going to extend that and maybe I'm going to give them a workshop as well because they've never done that before. So it's our job of responding to what people are actually looking for, craving, wanting, asking for and then building on and extending that to sort of pepper the you don't know what you don't know part. And I don't know if anyone's heard of the great book, not this one, Isley but Donna Walker-Coon wrote a book called The Invitation to the Party and it's fantastic and it really talks about the fact that it's based in the US and she did a lot of work in welcoming black American communities into institutions and she really talks about the institution having to think about everything being like you're welcoming someone to your home for a party. You know if your friend doesn't have the internet you're not really going to send them an email. You'll give them a call or you'll find a way to get to them to make sure they feel invited and then when they get there you're not really going to just leave the door open and hope someone walks in if they've never been to your house before you welcome them at the door you'll say hello thanks for coming and then when they come inside there's spaces for everyone, spaces to sit down, a space for people with kids, a space for the kids, a space for people to you know be in whatever they need to be, you'll cater for all the dietaries, you'll do all of that so you think about the people that you've invited to your party and I think about that and I thought about that every day when I was at Footscray it's like if we're a party how are we making sure that people feel invited, how do we make sure they know? And party preparation is key isn't it really? So working so from there you have done obviously a lot of different things but the relationship is the project is there sitting there so tell us a bit about about this project. The relationship is the project is a term that I coined for my sins I think it's the title that's going to haunt me for the rest of my life personally and professionally people the relationship is the project. I, this is how I thought about work at Footscray and every single week people would ask me questions like how do we work better in First Nations context or how do we reach refugee and asylum seeker communities or what does duty of care mean, what's the role of a festival? So over the time I just collated those questions and then when the time came I had the opportunity to commission a whole range of people including the wonderful Carolyn Bowditch in the front here to write from a lived experience of what that means Carolyn's excellent chapter on access and ableism calls us to great action. So the book really came from that it was a what do people want to know and the reason why it's a book I guess is because I used to always get asked for texts as well because people wanted to read to learn and I had nothing to offer that wasn't an academic with respect text and no sort of text that had been written by practitioners so it was really important that it was a practitioner led text some of whom are academics of course but have a practice and it really came from that sort of practice wisdom and then COVID happened what a blip that continues and on the other side of that I thought well I wonder how much of it has changed actually because everything is around community engaged practice so invited everybody to revise their chapters the ones they'd already written because I thought what have you got to add what's changed what's different to what you wrote in 2019 to 2023 and so that happened and then we were able to commission 12 new works also Seb thank you for your great work on squads and swarms and online digital engagement so a lot of the new works are around digital engagement disaster recovery responding to crisis rewielding relational aesthetics and things like that and then one of the most important parts of this book is that the national reading age in Australia is a year eight so really working with people to get those chapters as close to that as we could so that this could actually be read in a high school environment or people who were you know at the very beginning of their practice as well as you know people who just wanted a really simple starting point to know how to work better with communities yeah so we hope it can be an audiobook to where all the contributors read their chapters or yeah thank you so much I am was lucky enough Jade shared a copy with me and I was reading it through and getting really getting quite riled up about it all and thinking through about we talked about the fact that so much of it seems in the you know in the best possible way it seems like pretty obvious stuff right and we've talked about just getting doing the basics is always a good start but thinking about that why what do you think what's been why is it so hard to do the basics Jade tell us I don't think it is hard I think it's a choice and that's that's the elephant in the room actually is that when we talk about the avoiders it's a real it's an active decision because once you know you know something I'm not saying it's not difficult I mean everything good is hard right everything we want to do that we haven't done before is hard that's that's part of the work but I do think it's a choice you know how many times have we all heard of the budget won't allow it well the budget is a person right the budget's not Mr. Budget out there in the out there in the ether actually a set of people who are making financial decisions and and I think sometimes of course difficult decisions need to be made but those need to be owned and sort of why we're making those decisions now and what that means and I do think there is an element of denial about the fact that we have control of change you know the Black Lives Matter movement did not wait to ask permission but it is our job to respond to that like it is our job to respond we can't decide when change happens it's happening it's there and what is our response to it and how do we do better I think Eric said yesterday the opposite I hope I don't misquote you it was so fantastic the opposite to chaos is not control it's about elevating context and that to me is just absolutely true so how we start to think about that more practically and be brave yeah I don't think it's hard in the way that people think it's hard yeah it's hard work but and it's it's interesting just that what it needs to what it what it does need what needs to happen is an acknowledgement that this is core this is core to the work we need to do right it's not a nice to have or an additive kind of icing on the top this is the cake one more thing because it's certainly we need to hear from other people I think institutions are sort of grappling with a new reality in some ways too I mean there was never really competition when they were established it was sort of like people went to experience art people walked in a door it was a very you know practical experience of like I'm going to the art gallery whereas the art gallery is the world the art gallery is everywhere it's it's online it's in us it's on our phones I mean we've seen such extraordinary projects showcased over the last two days and yet important to remember that there are people in this country who don't have access to the internet so if you are working in technology based forms or playable art as someone described video games yesterday I feel like we have to do the advocacy alongside that work to be able to make sure it's accessible because there still is very much a class issue and a class divide around how people feel in terms of their ability to participate and if we think about cultural rights as our sort of goal the opportunity to not only participate in culture but the opportunity to shape it how we're protecting that right with every decision we make. Thanks Jade. Fiona I wanted to talk to you about your work as artistic director of the other film festival and thinking through yeah this idea of how you worked with that festivals model to deliver something that was you know and continues to be really groundbreaking and new in its approach. Well, thank you. So the other film festival or as it's acronym which we love to call TOFF which I might just refer to in this way otherwise it's a long thing to keep rolling off the tongue so it's actually our 20th anniversary this year was established back in 2004 I've just got a little blurb so it was Australia it is Australia's first international disability film festival and when it first started for a number of years it sort of happened every two years and since I took over in 2019 we've been working more to an all around model and I'll just get this little blurb I can read out so we acknowledge that since TOFF first started back in 2004 the screen landscape has transformed and that storytellers play a vital role in shaping and developing new ways to create work and connect with audiences. We have worked hard to reposition TOFF in the screen ecosystem by embracing the convergence of film art media and technology challenging evolving screen production in industry practices to prioritise accessibility to create authentic and sustainable mainstream opportunities for deaf and disabled screen creatives and in turn audience experiences and practically how we do that we have three streams so we have the screening industry and community streams and that's all underpinned by a global standard of universal access and just you know like so a big part for us we really want to show work within the festival that is made by deaf and disabled people that does have authentic and really nuanced amazing representation and untold stories on screen but the systemic issues that exist not just in the screen industry but the wider kind of sphere of immersive art etc etc is that a lot of us I'm a filmmaker we're just not getting to make that work so we're really aware of those wider systemic issues that not only exist in our screen and arts and cultural spaces but in the wider society and if you haven't I really encourage you to engage with and I don't know how many it's about 18 reports but even if you read the top sheet of the recent findings of the Royal Commission into disability it's got quite a long name hasn't it Caroline but it's really the neglect and the abuse and it's like I suppose I'm trying to say we're not working us but all of us I'm not working in a vacuum. Yeah it comes back to that context doesn't it yeah. With the festival the to talk to us about the festival here at ACMI and working with a partnership model I guess we've talked a bit about well we've talked a bit about in our previous conversations about partnerships and how they can work and support some of this work although they're not always straightforward but yeah tell us about the partnership and what things worked well and what things were harder in delivering the festival. Well I mean you know this has been and I think Seb acknowledged this in an event we had like last year but you know there were a lot of long conversations for a long time between ACMI TOFF and AOV Arts Access Victoria so for the last two years we've actually been working very directly and have presented a screen program on ACMI Cinema 3 which is your streaming platform which is powered by it's Shift 72 which is an amazing which is a platform a streaming platform that many of you may know in terms of it was one of the evolutions that happened because of the pandemic so the big film festivals from Cannes to South by South West they needed this technology sort of existed but it got you know fast tracked so myths you know so yeah and we wanted to yes we initially were still coming out of the official pandemic but more than that we were aware that we wanted to offer digital first-gen or hybrid have that commitment because a lot of our community we were aware of this is before the pandemic could not necessarily get to a cinema you know for a whole lot of reasons partly that can be where you live if you live regionally or but also you know we have lots of people in our communities who you know we use the terms like often can work from bed or you know might be terrible terms like housebound but so we wanted to acknowledge that there we needed that flexibility so then under covert this sort of became like the new normal and people were used to that and like we said we suddenly saw all these both local and international all kinds of festivals but film festivals that you could suddenly attend so they were international ones that I as a curate could go to that I would never have got to so this last year we presented a program called resistance on cinema 3 it had around 10 films we do we wouldn't want to do this anyway but we do receive funding from Screen Australia so we have as high percentage of Australian films and often that is more than 10 films and you know that got incredible audience we keep it international and the year before that we had a program called flaunt which was also part of our oldest date which is a disability arts festival the AV partners with art centre Melbourne and we had an equally like the audience yeah the numbers were and for you for that can be they were quite high and I think the thing is we don't have huge marketing campaigns and you know we didn't have a publicist and we we think partly we get that because top has been around for 20 years but also just there is that hungriness that that desire to want to see this curator program with predominantly work made by deaf and disabled people but that those stories so there's still such a gap not just in the screen industry but in museums and to even have any disability content but often that it may still be ableist or inspiration porn as our dear like friend stale young coined so that's you know we don't we're open to what we show at the same time we it is curated and we're trying to give and it's more than authentic we're trying to yeah do a number of things and it's that I mean you talk about that kind of access being really important but it's also that pathway through to agency as well around yeah yeah tell your own story yeah the agency is really important and um look the other the other big issue and this isn't just an issue with acne most cinemas yes you might be able to get into them but you can't uh just for wheelchair seating like they're not that accessible you know we don't want to limit how many if we do something in person we don't want to limit how many people in wheelchairs can come in to our screening and that if you have a partner a friend a companion that they can sit with you we want to be able to have relaxed screenings that you know sometimes we might have we want space that people could if they wanted to lie down or we might have bean bags so there's a whole lot of things that actually make because I don't use it actually makes it difficult for us just to program straight into this is cinema one or your cinema two so when we did do an in-person event which was hybrid I should say in early December last year we used your art couple we looked at alternative spaces within ACMI and really yeah we wouldn't just come into the cinema for those reasons and the other thing is really important to us that that was a hybrid event and it's not about having the same uh you know experiences if you're in person but we want an equity of experience so we put a lot of time and effort into the kind of production and organisation of that online experience as well thank you i'm going to talk to you Subhadra now about your experience in the outer suburbs in the city of Casey and this is one of the fastest growing regions in Australia and so it's we talked earlier about the role of place and location in this conversation about you know well audiences and who participates in arts and culture so tell us what change looks like in the city of Casey right now hi okay well we're towards the end of the panel so I definitely want to leave time for questions so i'm going to try to be quick ish city of Casey and I think the conversation started with talking about what do we mean by demographic and behavioural change and whether the fact that we talk about these things whether we really understand what that feels and looks like on the ground for the people that live there I work in the city of Casey it's 40 kilometres from the CBD of Melbourne it's 400 000 people it's going to be 500 000 people in the next decade it's four times the population of the city of Yarra if you're from Sydney it's the size of black town and it's 100 000 people more than Geelong so it's a city in and of itself and the population dynamics in Australia we know or we know from research that Grattan institute have done that regional patterns in terms of where new migrants um choose to settle is in the outer suburbs of our major cities so that means in my community it's afghan it's south asian Sri Lankan and Indian, it's Chinese and it's the second largest first nations population in metro Melbourne and I think Jade rattled off some statistics but the populations of our city are changing and that has implications for what our major cultural institutions have to say to people who live so far away from where they are and I think there's a really vibrant conversation around the relevance of programming but I think spatial equity people having access to arts and culture within the built environment of their neighbourhood is a question that I feel like is less I guess exercised in these conversations in arts and cultural institutions and I think yeah we talk a lot about the distinctiveness of Melbourne and of Australia as these multicultural places but if we're talking also about the inertia what does it mean if we don't fully understand the dynamics of yeah people who live in the suburbs we have had really interesting conversations in the lead up to this about the tension between what happens inside and outside of arts and cultural institutions and can you tell us a bit about that rise of the the DIY culture that you've talked about and uh partly in response I guess to not being included yes so I think maybe it's worth saying yes we're very far away but you know yes local government that I worked for recognised that culture was a really important part of people's well-being and so there was a VIC health report that was written in 2013 that acknowledged that we're a big sports local government but from this report they decided to build a big performing arts centre, which is called Bunjil Place and that building and I saw one of my colleagues in the room opened at the end of 2017 but it's a new institution and it's a new big institution that doesn't I guess cultures as we know an ecosystem and we have the kind of big institution of that ecosystem but the DIY culture the grassroots energy doesn't necessarily come to us and enter at the door and I think one of the challenges for including voices from marginalised backgrounds is how we allow them into the tertiary institutions into the other training institutions so that they might find a pathway and I think uh from what I hear in the community there's a reticence for moving through those formal pathways that we know really well as arts and culture workers and what I see is a very vibrant DIY culture where people are self-organising particularly in the live music space and different collectives that kind of look like ARI's if we came at it with a lens of what we already know but yeah community cultural development but these are one or two people building I guess cultural energy and momentum because the funding agencies haven't come to them including local government and that they're deciding that we want to create this for ourselves and so they're doing that but it's about how do we have other layers of the small and medium parts of the ecology so that there'll be a point now and in the future where we can invite those new voices into the conversation yeah it's it's this interesting we've sort of touched on this a number of times over the last couple of days it's this tension between what you can achieve on the outside and what you can achieve on the inside and there's I guess there's risks to not participating in the kind of organised cultural institutions when there you know there's power embedded in those and there's there's also benefits to participating in that that you know we want everyone to be able to partake of I guess whether we say it explicitly or not I think maybe there's an assumption that people will come and join our institutions and the experience i've heard and what I hear from the community is that it's not necessarily a given and that they're really proud of where they come from I think the southeast and the west of Melbourne have a kind of cultural rivalry that kind of skips the CBD they're not really super interested and I think those conversations are happening whether they're visible to the institutions or not and I think that these young people I talk to have a reticence about partnering with institutions where there's not a level of reciprocity and that can mean to them not just coming to them because they're connected to communities where they are but that you come to them and you help them with some of the kind of capacity building and institutionalisation that our sector does well and that we know and that we can bring to them and so I find in my role a big part is just bringing some of those little pieces of knowledge to help them on the way of creating their own I mean maybe institutions is overstating their scale but their own collectives and their own ways of self-organising yeah and that's where the reciprocity is really important otherwise I was thinking about the conversations yesterday about ai and the extraction of resources it feels a bit exploitative you know yeah i'm just looking at i've now i'm checking time i'm looking at slido i'm looking at the questions coming through and yes there's a bunch of different things in here one of the things I did want to address there's a question here about talking about avoiders and the vital need for this work to be done where are the consequences for not doing this work and that's something that we have talked a bit about haven't we collectively in the lead up to this. Did you want to respond to that Anne? yeah it's a really good question so i'm thinking on the run here. I guess the the consequences of being an avoider is that you don't get the benefits of this work and I think we kind of frame the need to diversify audiences in three ways one is we're focusing on publicly funded arts organisations which are supposed to deliver public value so if you're not doing this kind of work you're not delivering public value regardless of whether or not you're publicly funded there is a sense that new and diverse audiences actually can make whatever you're getting from a box office more sustainable so there's a sense of you know sort of income sustainability but the really important reason in my own view that this is important is it's about telling new authentic and distinctive stories that you know it's not just about changing an organisation's work around an existing program there has to be a shift in what's programmed and so to me the really exciting benefit of this kind of organisational change piece is that we're telling you authentic and distinctive stories so there's a lot of I think you know so we've we've done some research where in some countries there's funding links to this so the uk for example this kind of practice might be linked to funding outcomes in Australia it's a bit more of a sort of opt-in thing if you think about government policy but it's it's you know it's keeping things authentic distinctive and innovative is I think the benefits and then the other aspect is if you don't engage you're going to become irrelevant yeah the relevant there is that relevancy piece yes exactly one of the things I was thinking about we in the context of that conversation and I think thinking about how we get to the future place I think a lot of us have been doing work around thinking through KPIs yesterday there was some talk about the fact that a lot of us have KPIs that in some senses support an inertia to change you know they make it or at least make it quite difficult I use that word knowingly and so thinking through the how we're in a time where we really need to develop much more meaningful KPIs and ways to measure um our impact and you know outside of a performative kind of diversity KPI and that's work that I know many of us are doing and certainly at ACMI we're trying to you know start to develop that muscle around being able to talk about the work we do in terms of outcomes and that it takes time to be able to tell those stories though yeah okay back to slido the other there's another one down here too elevator pitch for why doing this work is a smart business economic decision I guess one of the things we were talking about, Subhadra, was the 400 000 people in Casey right it's a huge area of growth yeah - I'm not sure what the question is - oh an elevator pitch for why doing this work is a smart business economic decision yeah but I think that's I mean there's this is this is the population this is the demographic that we're working with I yeah I think this conversation between well KPIs and outcomes I think we started talking about before the session, Brit, but I think it's challenging when different funding agencies have different priorities for the institutions that they fund and one might be around economic development and the other one might be around cultural outcomes and how institutions find a balance between those competing priorities within their institutional framework I think is a challenge I think in the local government space they're trying to have it all but I think one of the dominant outcomes that in my context we've landed on is health and well-being and I think that's a positive place for arts and culture in Casey to to be yeah it's less of a priority the economic piece I can address that too like roughly you know the abs you know with with disability so you know the percentage it's around 17 we roughly say there's 20 but often so in the census it's how those questions are asked lots of disabled people who have been on the NDIS and may receive the disability support pension can't answer yes to that but during the pandemic there was a figure that came out that 47 percent of Australians have underlying health conditions of course not all of those people will identify with disability but you know there's a lot more huge amount of people that you're probably already engaged with are in this space and if you're coming back to the elevator pitch you know we talk about what's the crypt dollar you're missing out there's so much and there's a lot more that was a great thing and I know it's been controversial but with the NDIS coming in so the national disability insurance scheme there are people they have it built into their plans we've had to fight to get art included but they have money to spend and come and engage and traditionally you know for a lot of disabled people say living in group homes or whatever going to the cinema once a week or maybe going to the local art gallery was something they got to do but you know that's something um should just be happening but the potential there is is more than just huge but it does turn into dollars i'm just looking at the the comment here and slide over with the most it looks like the most thumbs ups we can't address diversity until the creative industries are properly paid as the lowest paid industry it's a career option only open to people who can afford it and I know certainly that listening to some of the things that Clare Reddington's had to say with the changes she's made at Watershed around the payment of artists and trying to make that much more equitable I agree I mean I think there's there's work to be done there as well that's also about people making space and and you know you had those stats about programming and what you're not getting shifted and seeing in organisations and I know that's not going to change and open up for everyone in terms of making the arts more accessible perhaps to be getting paid and making a career but if we've got people you know we need allies we need people to make space we are out of time i'm sorry to say but I wanted to thank the four wonderful panelists that we have here today for so generously giving their time and for being committed to doing this work really appreciate it thank you so much