The Prime Minster released the Government's Australia in the Asian Century White Paper yesterday (28 October) outlining five key areas of focus, including the need to deepen cultural and social relationships.
Arts Minister Simon Crean says the White Paper sets a clear objective for cultural diplomacy and exchange to drive a stronger, deeper and broader engagement with Asian nations.
‘Cultural diplomacy is vital to Australia’s engagement across the region to build trust, understanding and confidence in our cultural, political, security and economic relationships,’ he said.
However, AMPAG’s executive director, Bethwyn Serow, pointed out that building Asian engagement takes time and commitment—strategic and financial.
‘Both are vital if we are to build sustainable longer term engagement,’ she said.
‘In our submission to the review, we called for a better resourced and more strategic approach to cultural engagement in Asia, one that supported sustainable arts engagement allowing better knowledge sharing and deeper cultural exchange with both arts practitioners and Asian audiences.
‘We believe Australia needs a new fund to encourage strategic international touring and leveraging of Australia’s national interest in key international markets. Such a fund would require three-year funding cycles to ensure longer term planning,’ she said.
The White Paper recognises the major performing arts companies have a long history of successful tours to most Asian countries.
‘The Sydney Symphony Orchestra is touring six cities in China to an enthusiastic response which they are documenting through a live blog,’ Ms Serow said. [For more information go to[For more information go to http://blog.ssoontour.com]
‘Bangarra Dance Theatre regularly tours Asia; Musica Viva operates DFAT’s fine Music tour; The Australian Ballet first toured Asia in 1968 and has been a frequent visitor ever since; the Australian Chamber Orchestra regularly tours Asia; and several of our country’s state theatre companies have toured work in the region with developed plans for further engagement.’
The Government’s White Paper, tentatively welcomed by the Opposition, is intended to provide a roadmap for the whole of Australia—governments, business, unions, and the broader community. The goal is to secure Australia’s position as a more prosperous and resilient nation that is fully part of our region and open to the world.
‘This paper is a good first step, but there is more detail to come. We are interested to learn more about the Government’s plans to revamp the International Australian Cultural Council as well as what impact these recommendations will have on the Review of the Australia Council,’ Ms Serow said.
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