INTERNATIONAL CULTURAL TOURISM
BRISBANE AS A CULTURAL CAPITAL
BRISBANE’S GALLERY OF MODERN ART (GoMA)
RUBY TJANGAWA WILLIAMSON
BRISBANE’S ECONOMIC IMPACT
BRISBANE’S ECONOMIC FUTURE
The cultural tourism of a country cannot prosper without a strong sense of national identity. What sets a nation apart is what draws visitors, which contributes to a flourishing culture where art is at the very centre. The Australian Bureau of Statistics confirms that the culture sector in Australia is big business, perpetuated in art galleries, museums, theatres, film studios, opera companies, writers’ weeks, rock concerts and arts festivals (Grybowski, 2014). Many different factors impact the motivation of cultural visitors, such as demographics, the dollar and what kind of experience is being sought.
There are highly innovative businesses and individuals operating in the creative industries. Encompassing music, performing arts, software development, design and visual arts, the creative economy is recognised as a major contributor to a city’s lifestyle and attractiveness to skilled workers. To gain a better impression of ways that an industry impacts an economy, it may be pragmatic to analyse one Australian city in particular. ‘Cities and regions actively nurture their creative industries to capture the economic benefits they bring and grow local competitive industries’ (Quirk, 2014, p.2).
Sustaining cultural tourism through the arts requires support from local and federal government. In a message from Mr Rupert Myer AM, Chair of the Australia Council for the Arts, he shares that ‘Australia has every reason to be culturally ambitious and this is a very significant juncture in our cultural life. The development and delivery of the National Cultural policy, Creative Australia, symbolises the importance of the arts to a vibrant, innovative and healthy Australia’ (Myer, 2013).
‘Today, we have more high quality artists applying for support than ever before, some of them working in ways not imagined 10 years ago. On behalf of these artists we welcome the commitment of an additional $75.3 million over four years to boost our nation’s creativity’ (Myer, 2013).
The additional funding will be used to support more artists and arts organisations, assisting Council to evolve with the rapid change in artforms. It will include those working in emerging inter-arts disciplines. The funding will be apportioned as follows:
$60 million will be provided for critical funding for artists and arts organisations.
$5 million will be provided for the Major Performing Arts companies.
$4 million will be provided to build the professional capacity of the arts sector.
$4 million will be provided for a data collection program to inform research for the sector.
The Australian Council for the Arts seeks to ensure the engagement and visibility of Australian artists through exposure to international audiences and markets (Myer, 2013).
INTERNATIONAL CULTURAL TOURISM
According to Tourism Research Australia's 2012 International Visitor Survey, just under half (48%) of all overseas visitors attended at least one cultural attraction while in Australia (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2014).
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (2014) lists the overseas cultural and heritage visitors by activity type:
11.5 million day trips and 11.3 million overnight trips within Australia were cultural and heritage visitors (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2014). ‘Visiting museums or art galleries was the most popular cultural activity for both domestic overnight visitors and day trippers with attendance of 46% and 38% respectively. Visits to historical/heritage buildings, sites or monuments attracted 29% of overnight visitors and 21% of day visitors’ (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2014).
Novelty and education have been identified as the main motives for participating in cultural activities:
Researchers have identified more specific motivations associated with special cultural interests. Museum visits provide the opportunity for social interaction with family and friends, for learning, discovering, emotional and spiritual enrichment, self-awareness and personal fulfilment. There may also be desires to experience something new, authentic and unique. Similarly, art galleries attract visitors who want to experience something authentic, unique and beautiful, as well as to be educated.
(Foo and Rossetto, 1998, p.10)
Close to one third of those cultural tourists that visited a museum or an art gallery wanted to experience something Australian, 21 per cent had a specific desire to do so and 20 per cent did so as part of a package tour (Foo and Rossetto, 1998, p.35)
Urban change and socio-economic development deal with the emergence of Cultural Capitals. ‘These include narratives of globalisation – an acceleration in the movement as well as the heightened integration of capital, goods, people and cultures across the world’ (Johnson, 2009, p.56). ‘Associated with these developments in economic, social and cultural life go particular spatial effects; as from globalisation... and post-modernity emerges World Cities, cultural tourism, intense city competition... and imperatives for urban renewal’ (Johnson, 2009, p.56). Queensland’s capital Brisbane embodies this recent competitive development.
BRISBANE AS A CULTURAL CAPITAL
Some institutions that form part of Brisbane’s nurturing creative scene include the Gallery of Modern Art, Illustration House, Metro Arts, Brisbane Powerhouse, Queensland College of Art, State Library of Queensland, QUT Art Museum, Museum of Brisbane, Judith Wright Centre for Contemporary Arts, Opera Queensland and the Brisbane Arts Theatre‘ (Lonely Planet, 2007, p.1).
Like most western cities, cultural enterprises in Brisbane have discovered the advantages of lifestyle and urban renewal. Author of The Rise of the Creative Class, Richard Florida (2002), defines the creative class as ‘a fast-growing, highly educated and well-paid segment of the workforce on whose efforts corporate profits and economic growth increasingly depend. Members of the creative class do a wide variety of work in a wide variety of industries -from technology to entertainment, journalism to finance, high-end manufacturing to the arts’. Exploiting cultural renewal and innovation are fundamental practices for marketing gurus and cultural commissaries.
Tony Ellwood abandoned a fast-track career in the self-proclaimed cultural capital of Melbourne to run the Queensland Art Gallery and the new $100 million, astonishingly successful Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) on the Brisbane River. Working in a vibrant expanded arts precinct, Ellwood now has an unbridled enthusiasm for his new job (Gill, 2010). He used to receive care packages of "good coffee" from concerned friends in Melbourne, where he had previously been deputy director and heir apparent at the National Gallery of Victoria (Gill, 2010). ‘The southerners' view of Brisbane as the home of white-shoed rednecks with gold medallions around their necks and chips on their shoulders is a myth, says Ellwood’ (Gill, 2010).
[M]emories from the Joh Bjelke-Petersen regime are hard to shake. That's when Queensland's business was built on "crops, rocks, and crocs" with a few meter maids thrown in for surf, sun and sex appeal.
It was when Brisbane's corrupt cops and even more corrupt bagmen politicians ruled the frontier town of XXXX beer and barbecued ribs. By night, they tore down its elegant heritage buildings and by day they rooted out the left-wingers cooking up subversive pop music in their Fortitude Valley burrows.
A hilarious video that follows the trend of using the phrasal template “Stuff (X) says” illustrates some stereotypical idiosyncrasies of the city’s dwellers:
Stuff Brisbane People Say
Despite its backwoods reputation, the ‘latest Australian edition of travel bible Lonely Planet has named Brisbane the country's coolest... hippest city and a star on the rise’ (Pierce, 2014). In response, Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said “Brisbane is a New World City with an enviable subtropical climate, lively alfresco dining scene, green spaces, world-class art galleries and premier events" (Pierce, 2014).
Ellwood believes that ‘Brisbane people are subtle... [t]hey don't want to be a version of Melbourne or Sydney, but take the best of what they see and reshape it’ (Gill, 2010)
"You go to work every day feeling you are making a difference," he says of GoMA, which is one of the world's 10 largest galleries dedicated solely to showing and collecting contemporary art, and whose commanding presence on the Brisbane River makes Sydney and Melbourne's version of contemporary art centres look, well, regional.