Creative Conversations III: Creative Bendigo

Arts & Creative Industries

Creative Conversations III: Creative Bendigo

Friday 10 August 2018, 6.15pm - 7.15pm, at Ulumbarra Theatre

With the release of Greater, Creative, Bendigo draft Strategy, a free event – Creative Conversations III: Creative Bendigo – was held as part of the Bendigo Writers Festival on Friday 10 August 2018 at Ulumbarra Theatre.

This event is the third in a series of Creative Conversations which have been held during the development of the Strategy.

The panel was hosted by David Astle with guest panellists:

  • Mayor Cr Marg O’Rourke (City of Greater Bendigo)
  • Marcus Westbury (Renew Australia)
  • Jacqueline Millner (Associate Professor Visual Arts, La Trobe University)
  • Rosemary Sorensen (Director of Bendigo Writers Festival)
  • Bec Phillips (Dja Dja Wurrung Woman, Cultural Interpreter and Storyteller)

Discussion focussed around five main questions summarised below:

1. What is the potential for reinvention of our city?

  • Aboriginal culture should be part of the shared experience in our city.
  • We need to rediscover and bring back the Aboriginal names for places and things that were renamed after colonisation – creating more visibility of Aboriginal culture.
  • Everyone should be able to use parts of our Aboriginal language in their everyday dialogue.
  • Why not celebrate Jaara seasons – like the Easter Festival – everyone in Bendigo would know what time of year it was and what it meant, just a normal part of our lives.
  • Bendigo has many niche creative industries and some of these small groups are starting to come together and collaborate – seeing the power in working together.
  • We need to change how we thinking about space – in Newcastle there was a gap in expectations, property owners (of empty buildings) were waiting for one big thing to solve their problem, but you have to start small, culture comes from the bottom up.
  • The small scale of Bendigo allows greater access, a strong sense of space, plus it has the strong reputation of Bendigo Art Gallery. Bendigo’s creative scene has strong bones and the will is there to make change happen.

2. How do we create the fertile ground for passions to grow and what would be a great initiative in the next 5 years?

  • We need to capitalise on our strengths and be leaders – people are now moving to Bendigo because there is the opportunity to stand out, to be noticed, especially if you are a creative person. Taking a regional approach is also important, and has been a distinct shift for Council in the last 5 years.
  • More and more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is becoming mainstream, we need to build on this and make it more visible in our landscape.

3. Do we need to implement something like Renew Newcastle?

  • It’s about asking people what they want to do and then giving them space to do it. Give people in the community the confidence to try things out – even though some projects will inevitably fail.
  • Pride in our Dja Dja Wurrung culture and heritage is inspiring, and we have great things going on here. We don’t need a ‘Renew Bendigo’ – maybe it’s more of an ‘Evolve Bendigo’.
  • Community, grass-roots creativity is more emphasised in the new strategy – a change from the previous strategy, which focused more on large-scale assets and investment.
  • The importance of being somewhere, not anywhere – a place needs to have something distinctive, have its own culture. For example, Assemble multi-disciplinary collective working across architecture, design, philosophy, etc., created a pop-up cinema in a petrol station – revitalising a place that was becoming increasingly ghettoised. Volunteers made it possible and it brought people together.

4. Who makes the first move with these kinds of projects?

  • Leaders in the community are already doing this, for example La Trobe University with the CityStudio program. Council doesn’t have to know it all. Council does know everything and doesn’t want to – in some ways we are just the minders of the assets.

5. How can we stop burn-out in the Dja Dja Wurrung community when increasing demands are made on their time and knowledge?

  • There are many rights and responsibilities that come along with caring for Country – it’s a lot to take on. It is difficult for Dja Dja Wurrung people to be everywhere at once, perhaps government and agencies could coordinate events and consultation so Dja Dja Wurrung representatives don’t have to go to multiple different meetings/engagement sessions/events all the time
  • Impenetrable council processes stop people from doing what they want – people get lost in the system. There are many barriers to entry for people – especially for those who have limited funds.

Arts and Creative Industries Strategy

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