I’ve held off on writing this because to be perfectly honest I’m really not sure what the hell happened at the 2020 summit in Canberra last weekend. Several days of attempting to process it and decompress later the only thing that is clear is that the whole 2020 summit process was never clearly defined and i never really knew what to expect. I’m not exactly sure what we were trying to get to and what we might have achieved so i am very unsure of whether we did it or not!
So what follows is less of a report and more of a brain dump. More details and something better written will follow at some point.
- Ideas! The climate that has grown up in Australia over the last decade to so where there has been a fear of putting ideas out there does seem to be over. The downside means that every crazy nutter can now get a microphone but the upside is that robust debate tends to lead to better outcomes. We have had a culture of “don’t rock the boat” for too long. Fear that the previous government and their media allies would pounce and fear – in the creative sector in particular – that legitimate self criticism would be used to tear down a community that perceived itself to be under siege and clinging to it’s survival seems t be over. There were many ideas, and many good ideas put forward over the weekend that would never have come out of a traditional policy process and would never have been said aloud in the last few years. Its time to start violently shaking the boat and see what floats.
- Meeting people. The summit was a rare opportunity that brought together a wide range of people from across the creative, arts, cultural sector. Contrary to popular belief we don’t all hang out together all the time – particularly outside of narrow artform communities. It was both inspiring and practically quite useful to meet those people, realise that several issues cut right across the boundaries or artform or medium and begin to pull together a bit of a community going forward.
- The formal statement process. Quite frankly the whole idea of distilling 2 days of frantic discussion down to a quick headline grabbing series of dot points is fundamentally stupid. The process we followed to get there didn’t help either. The best ideas weren’t in the headlines so i hope that there is a genuine effort made by both the government and the interested communities to trawl through the deeper levels and find some real gold.
- Our “low or no cost idea”. Oh dear. Apparently the Creative Australia stream thought that spending 1% of the entire federal government budget costs nothing. Oh dear. To the best of my knowledge very few people thought this would cost nothing and i am not sure how the hell the idea got up in that context.
- A lot of things were seemingly predetermined. It appears that or final list of ideas included things we’d never discussed and included some things that we’d explicitly rejected. The conspiracy theorist in me assumes that this is because the whole process was meant to push towards a predetermined outcome, but the logical type actually doesn’t see it. I’m not really convinced that there was an uber agenda, if anything the general lack of sensing the government had any particular insight or agenda was one of the more surprising (and strangely disappointing) aspects of the whole shenanigans.
- The lack of subtlety in promoting the government. Maybe i’m just a nuance kind of guy, but i think i would have been more enthusiastic about the government if they toned it down a bit. As someone who welcomed the change of government but then immediately switched over to scrutiny rather celebratory mode i think my enthusiasm probably would have risen more if the event had put more attention into detail and less into celebration. But perhaps that’s just me.
To be honest, very few of the specific ideas floated at this blog made it onto the table via me (some came via others). All up there was probably only ten or some minutes of formal taking that nay one person can actually do without being less than constructively pushy. I managed to attach some games issues to some larger agendas, express my support for a few very things, and identify and draw out a substantial minority with a strong interest in larger scale cultural reform (we’ll keep talking!) of the type that i flagged here last week but i was left with a larger sense that the venue may have been mismatched to some of the more substantial tasks.
The verdict from my end is that i’ll wait and see. I would like to wait to see how and whether some of the more detailed and better ideas filter through the process before i pass any final judgement. Right now i am some rapidly changing combination of enthused, frustrated, pessimistic, optimistic and several parts confused. The great potential of an event like 2020 is the chance to bring to the table voices, ideas, and perspectives that don’t come out of the usual policy feedback loop. Whether that potential is tapped or lost very much remains to be seen.
- What's the big idea? Start with the small ones. (1.000)
- Broken Newcastle Map (0.500)
- Does anyone in Newcastle have vacant real estate? (0.500)
- No Log(ie) (0.500)
- The curse of the covers bands (0.500)