Useful Trends emerging from the 2019 PAC Australia Conference

Useful Trends emerging from the 2019 PAC Australia Conference

Weng-Si Cheang

With a bit of time to ruminate, Program Manager Weng Si Cheang has sifted through her notes from the PAC Australia Conference and arrived at three core trends to watch out for in the year to come. Check them out to make sure you stay ahead of the curve!

In August, I travelled to Caloundra, located in the Sunshine Coast, for the annual national PAC Conference. This was my first PAC experience and there were three key blocks information, or trends, that stood out for me. I hope you find them as insightful as I did.

Trend 1 – Shifting to non-traditional arts centres

There was a lot of talk about moving away from the concept of holding shows at physical traditional structures and venues to more dynamic non-traditional spaces around the community, for example parks, libraries, town halls. Outdoor spaces are particularly popular as it provides more access to diverse audiences, especially those who feel they do not belong in formal arts spaces like galleries, theatres and seated concert halls.

It was highlighted that though non-traditional spaces are growing in popularity, there are more risks involved that require more resources to manage. For instance, a venue thinking about moving a show to another location, like a park, will need to speak with their Local Government about their requirements to use the space. You will have to consider occupational health and safety, fire hazards, available bathrooms, noise control, security etc.

Trend 2 – Young people are the key to diversity

I attended a very informational session conducted by CultureLab. CultureLab, in partnership with PAC Australia and their membership, delivered a national research project that captured audience data from performing arts venues. One of the most interesting things I learnt was that audiences who are under the age of 25 are more diverse in terms of cultural backgrounds and hence, they are more likely to attend performances from a diverse language or cultural background. If you want to attract more young people into your arts programs, you can be more diverse in your programming and if you are more diverse in your programming you will attract more young people.

Trend 3 – Arts are becoming more green

The Arts Council England (similar to Australia Council for the Arts) has been working with Julie’s Bicycle, a London based charity that supports the creative community to act on climate change and environmental sustainability, for a number of years to support theatres, galleries, museums, music venues, festivals and other cultural organisations across their country to improve their environmental practice. This includes the Council encouraging more work that raises environmental awareness among audiences in innovative ways and currently, Arts Council England is encouraging “Green Plans” from applicants submitting to their Grants programs. Now that is impressive!

The Caloundra landscape.

A panorama of beautiful Caloundra. Picture by Weng Si Cheang.

Besides the thought-provoking couple of days at the conference, Caloundra itself is beautiful. The town is next to Kings Beach, a lovely stretch of the coastline. Upon speaking with one of the local council staff, it is predicted that the population of the area will double in the next 5-10 years and I can see why.

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