Those who come to Melbourne in October 2011 will discover a twenty-first century city which has long embraced the arts.  Melbourne is a UNESCO City of Literature and it abounds in sophisticated live performance venues, visual art galleries, long-established theatre and dance companies and orchestras as well as a thriving contemporary scene where innovation and experimentation in music, creative industry and hybrid forms are conducted in alternative spaces all over the city.  Delegates will also arrive at the start of one of Australia’s finest international arts festivals, the Melbourne Festival.  This context alone would be reason enough for the world’s arts policy-makers to gather together to share their expertise and stories. 

But the summit will focus our views on the arts. As much as we in the global arts community love the arts for their own sake – for the skill, craft, imagination, intelligence, humanity, and sense of awe and awakening they bring us - we are also aware that the arts intersect with the rest of society at multiple flashpoints.  These creative intersections will provide our focus over three highly charged days of talk, debate, information-sharing and inspiration.

Ranging from the environment to health, social inclusion to technological innovation, education to participatory democracy, we will experience the way the arts behave as catalysts for change in these crucial human arenas, and examine the ways policy can provide the pathway for those intersections. The arts are not simply to be pressed into the service of other agendas, but should lead and be central to all those things we value in the vast panorama of twenty-first century life: we will use our few packed days in Melbourne to have a good look at all this.  I urge you to join us.

Robyn Archer

Robyn Archer
Programme Advisor