Scene4 Magazine — International Magazine of Arts and Media
Scene4 Magazine — Martin Challis
Martin Challis
Scene4 Magazine-inView

may 2008

Arts at the Centre

Earlier this year Australia’s newly elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, called for a summit for the collection of ideas to take Australia into the future.  

“The Summit will help us shape a long term strategy for the nation’s future – covering the economy, the nation’s infrastructure, our environment, our farmers, health care, indigenous Australians, the arts, national security, how we improve our system of government, and how we strengthen our communities and ensure nobody is left out of Australia’s future.”  

cateblanchett-baby1-crThe 2020 summit involved 1000 minds; people selected to gather at Parliament House in Canberra Australia on a weekend in April to put forward ideas to improve the nation.
These people were selected on the basis of their ability, notoriety and capacity to contribute good ideas. Not the least of contributors was actor and mother Cate Blanchett who acted as co-chair of the group that explored areas within the Creative Arts entitled - towards a creative Australia: the future of the arts, film and design. Clearly demonstrating the importance of the summit and the role of the arts in society, Cate attended the summit only five days after giving birth to her third child, Ignatius.

The creative arts group was one of ten groups each comprising approximately 100 people. Other groups included, climate change and sustainability, the economy, productivity and governance. Like the others, by the end of the two day summit the Creative Arts group had prepared a set of ideas to be recommended to Mr. Rudd and the government.

Addressing the final plenary session to all the delegates Cate shared her group’s key message. Their position was based on the Centrality of the Arts to all human endeavour. By 2020 she said, “we want to be celebrating that creativity is central to defining the nation”. She also pointed out that while creativity is central to the arts she also wanted arts be central to creativity, central to the whole economy.

Other messages reinforced the importance of indigenous culture within the arts and that the national curriculum in schools reflect this position. She also suggested that a 1% creativity dividend be created where government departments support the arts whether it be in design, installation or performance.

Other ideas included the establishment of a ministry for culture, a national indigenous cultural authority and new investment models, such as an arts endowment fund and a scholarship arrangement for young artists.

The 2020 summit in Australia was received with a range of attitudes. While some commentators appeared openly cynical and others, either mildly skeptical or moderately enthusiastic. The delegates who participated were passionate and committed to making a contribution to society’s future. As I witnessed the two day’s proceedings I felt hope and appreciation. Hope that the good ideas that were emerging would have a great impact on the nation and Australia’s contribution to the greater good at a global level. And appreciation for the people who participated in the Summit and appreciation for a Prime Minister who acted with vision and leadership.  

I also felt a sense of deep appreciation for Cate Blanchett using her status and position to represent the arts. Her words reinforcing the importance of the arts and artists to culture, to the economy and to human endeavour.


©2008 Martin Challis
©2008 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Martin Challis is an actor and director in Australia. He's also the
director of the Studio For Actors and Ensemble Works and
a Senior Writer and Columnist for Scene4.

For more of his commentary and articles, check the Archives
Read his Blog


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