Cultural Economy After Neo-Liberalism 25th-26th June, 2018

June 24, 2018

In the last forty years cultural policy has been dominated by economic value. As modeled and measured by economists, it has increasingly become the arbiter and final legitimation for cultural policy decision making. Even when other public values or goals are admitted, these are held to be best achieved through the allocative efficiencies of ‘the market’, and by inculcating appropriately ‘market rational’ behavior amongst producers and consumers. For some this was the Faustian bargain required to justify public funding, for others the creative entrepreneurial spirit freed from the shackles of the state and its elitist art forms.


In parallel we have seen the continued decline in public funding for culture; the disruption of public media (including journalism and information); the fragmentation and diminution of audiences into market niches and data sources; the erosion of wages and working conditions for cultural workers; a deepening lack of diversity within the sector, and the on- going exclusion of small scale cultural activities from inner cities to name just some. Many of these developments chime with those elsewhere – rising inequality; the disappearance of housing, education and health affordability in the space of a generation; the reduction of citizen entitlements to consumer services; the domination of global development finance over local needs; the erosion of environmental protection and indigenous rights.


There is crisis of the cultural sector - the ecosystem in which it operates and the values that sustain it as a public good. This is part of a wider crisis of our collective culture. This conference hopes to outline new approaches for the future as a matter of urgency. Rather than the stale ideas of creative industries and creative cities, we seek to engage with post- growth and sustainable economics; Indigenous and cultural rights; new approaches to ‘good living’ in the face of human and ecological distress; revisit making and manufacture in cities, as a question of sustainability and equity; and new forms of global cultural connectivity outside the imaginary of a mobile creative class.


We use the term cultural economy to identify culture as an economy, but folding in the insights from the tradition of political economy, which refuses to treat ‘the economy’ as a given. We take from cultural studies and cultural sociology the insight that culture is intertwined with society and government at multiple levels whose analysis is not served well by traditional ‘arts and culture’ policy analysis. We use cultural geography and critical planning studies to re-think the embedded and regulated cultural ecosystem of the urban and rural.


This conference aims not just to critique the current settings but to outline new approaches for the future. For alongside the stale ideas of creative industries and creative cities, other ideas are emerging: post-capitalism; indigenous and cultural rights set against exploitative economic logics; various versions of ‘good living’ which re-frame culture and nature in the face of ecological distress and the need for ethical purpose; revisiting making and manufacture in cities, as a question of sustainability and equity; and new forms of global cultural connectivity outside the imaginary of a mobile creative class. We cannot promise answers but certainly we will raise some new questions.


The conference is loosely organized around two days. The first day will look at aspects of the cultural economy, cultural work and cultural value; the second day will look first at the urban context for cultural production, ending with a Roundtable discussion on grassroots innovation Fringe to Famous.


June 25 & 26 2018 In association with Monash Urban Planning and Design.

PLACE: Monash College, Level 7, 271 Collins St Melbourne. TIME: 9am — 5pm (both days)



Day One


9.00 Day One Introduction: Justin O'Connor, Monash University


9.15 – 9.45: Post-neoliberal Economics and Cultural policy: Arjo Klamer, Erasmus University, The Netherlands


9.45 – 10.15: Spectres of Acid Communism in the Creative Economy: Seb Olma, Avans University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands




10.30 - 12 .00 Panel 1: Key issues for the next decade Post-Growth Creative Economies: Mark Banks, University of Leicester, UK Culture, Work and ‘Good Living’: Kate Oakley, University of Leeds, UK The Gig Economy: George Morgan, Western Sydney University




1.00 - 2.00 Panel 2: Making Spaces and Places

Craft and Taste-led Sustainability Jennifer Smith Maguire, University of Leicester, UK Making Spaces Xin Gu, Monash University


2.00-3.00 Panel 3: Culture, Data, Algorithmic Curation

Drone Society: Mark Andrejevic, Monash University Museums and Digital Curation: Caroline Wilson-Barnao, University of Queensland




3.30- 4.30pm Panel 4: Policy Logics and the Evaluation of Culture

The IAC’s Assistance to the Performing Arts (1976) Report and the Rise of the Language of ‘Accountability’ in Australian Arts and Cultural Policy: Julian Meyrick, Flinders University The

Neoliberalism’s Distaste for History and Some Consequences for Culture and its Evaluation: Tully Barnett, Flinders University


Conclusion: 4.30-4.45 Justin O’Connor: Good Living and the Cultural Economy


End Day One


Day Two


9.30: Introduction Day Two: Carl Grodach


9.40 Shaping the City for Cultural Production I: Urban Planning, Industrial Space, and Zoning

Moderator: Carl Grodach, Monash University

Panel Participants: Jennifer Day, University of Melbourne Bryn Davies, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Melbourne James Fitzgerald, Development Manager, Impact Investment Group, Melbourne Kate Shaw, University of Melbourne


11.15 – 12.30pm. Shaping the City for Cultural Production II: The workshop and the urban factory

Markus Jung, Monash University Paul Loh & David Legget, Power to Make Andrew Warren, University of Wollongong


12.30 pm Lunch


1.30 – 3.30 Fringe to Famous – From Innovation Systems to Arguments from Cultural Value

This session will report findings from a Monash-based project ‘Fringe to Famous’ which has examined the crossover in Australia between fringe, independent and avant garde cultural production and the ‘mainstream’. The project’s starting position was to note the historical circulation in Australia of cultural producers and their works between what Bourdieu termed the market of limited production and mass markets, counter-cultural scenes and popular culture. Over the past twenty years, this crossover has often been caught up in neoliberal policy discourses in which the fringe – if acknowledged at all – is viewed only in terms of its economic potential – for example, as an R&D area of the creative industries or a seedbed for business start-ups. ‘Fringe to Famous’ has shared in certain ways with these discourses, taking a generally positive view of exchanges between ‘fringe’ and ‘mainstream’. However, it has also maintained a distinction between cultural and economic value and an attention to the way in which they can diverge. In distinguishing our position from neoliberalism, we have sought, more recently, to question default suspicions against ‘romanticism’, opening the way for the specificity of cultural value to be more sympathetically received. In discussing these issues, examples will be drawn from project’s post 1980 case -studies: music, television comedy, short film, graphic design and computer games.


Panel: Tony Moore, Maura Edmonds, Mark Gibson (Monash), Chris McAuliffe, Australian National University.

Respondents: Kate Oakley (University of Leeds, UK), Helene George (Creative Economy, Melbourne), Ben Eltham, Monash University




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