Posts Tagged ‘ABC’

CAN – GLAM Sector News – 20 Oct – 27 Oct 2010

Lots to report on from the Can001 twittersphere this week

One of the most useful documents tweeted this week was released on the 19th Oct by the Australian Bureau of Statistics – A statistical overview of Arts and Culture in Australia –

Also this week we were finally given an erudite answer to the most pressing question on the internet – Why Does the Web Love Cats?

The Australian Film Institute Award 2010 Nominees were announced

Playing Australia, the Australian Government’s national performing arts touring program, Round 37 is open - This program is designed to assist the touring of performing arts across state and territory boundaries. A principal objective of Playing Australia is to support tours to regional and remote Australia and is open to theatre, music, opera, dance, puppetry and circus.

Digital Culture Fund deadline is coming up (Nov 22nd) a new round of the Geek in Residence program about to open- Ozco’s artsdigitalera want to talk about your idea for a digital arts project or a geek in residence placement? Adelaide 29 Oct – 1 Nov; Brisbane 3-4 Nov; Perth 8-9 Nov; Melb 10-12 Nov; Hobart 15-16 Nov; Syd 18 Nov – more details –

Had the pleasure of vicariously watching Tim O’reilly deliver his keynote @ Xinnovate conference on 26th. Some great ideas and the O’reilly innovation plan: innovating starts with fun – think of a great idea that could change the world – work on the business model – build an ecosystem – i.e. apple gives money to people to develop app platforms for its iphone – revalue people

I also came across this nice idea – a youtube version of the British Library exhibition on the stories behind 15 21st century British inventions.

Work of Aussie film photographers Greig Fraser (Let me in) & Adam Arkapaw (Animal Kingdom) showcased in October edition of American Cinematographer.

The Australian Maritime Museum listed a few new upcoming events including Matthew Flinders Return: 200th anniversary symposium, 31 October 2010, Bligh: Master Mariner – with Rob Mundle, Friday 12 November, behind-the-scenes at Wharf 7, 24th November – more at

The 17th Biennale of Sydney advertised an exciting role to join the Biennale team as the Nick Waterlow OAM Curatorial Fellow. A unique opportunity to work closely with high calibre national and international artists, arts workers and venues in a fast-paced and exciting festival. Applications close Monday, 22 November.

ABC Innovation, Sydney, is also looking for PHP/Python developer to work on exciting new mapping and education projects – close date 5 November –

ABC Arts also posted a video of Gilbert & George in conversation with Virginia Trioli on Artscape Monday, 22 February 2010, video at

The Perth Institute of Performing Arts (PICA) performance space to continue operations into 2011 –

Darren Beauchamp John Hillier from AGIMO (Australian Government Information Management Office) present their slideshow at the IPV6 summit. What is this – well apparently Internet Protocol Version 6 offers the world simpler networks, enhanced mobility and security, and almost unlimited addresses for the next-generation Internet. – see more at –

The Museum of Islamic Art in Old Cairo opens after seven-year renovation project

Launch of “Sciences& curiosities at the Court of Versailles” – an exhibition on the scientific exhibitions held in Versailles –

A selection of impressive nature photographs – From the Guardian – top 40 – A polar bear dance, a doomed thresher shark, and a crowd of giant tortoises gathered at dawn in the Galapagos etc –

Finalists from Guggenheim’s ‘Play’ a biennale of Creative video – saw 25 selected from 23,000 entries from around the globe including one Australian – the amazing work of Keith Loutit for his Bathtub IV – – more about the event

This is a link to check whether your Gallery Library Archive or Museum is listed in the world catalogue registry

Interesting – Edmodo – a social learning network for teachers, students, schools and districts provides free classroom communication for teachers, students and administrators on a secure social network. –

This is a nice list of 200 old occupation definitions compiled by Jane Hewitt – @familyresearchr×4ktdk

The National Library of Australia has acquired a rare account of an 1840s attack on a group of Indigenous people by white squatters in Queensland

More accolades for the sector as a librarian enters the Guinness Book of Records for collecting 22.1 grams of ‘belly button fluff ‘ –

UK Museums – Renaissance in the Regions – An independent review of Renaissance, published in July 2009, endorsed the flagship funding programme as the most important intervention in English non-national museums since the Museums Act of 1845. Says the £300m invested since the programme started in 2002 has helped transform the regional museum sector across the country and boost visitor figures. 15 mill visitors to these hub museums per annum up 18.5% since 2002/03

Librarians – Social Networking – Facebook – an interesting outline in the Course Wiki:

National Museum of Australia has posted the ‘Caring for collections’ symposium – Audio downloads of speakers –

Open Library – open source – book reader –

Melbourne Museum Exhibition has minerals online in 3D at

Australia Library Technicians Conference Perth Sept 2011 call for papers

A guide for using statistics for evidence based policy, 2010

Mackay Council – Ooralea Local Area Plan – online consultation process up and running

Australian Poetry – two positions – NSW director and National Admin Assistant – details:

An interface built by Tim Sherratt at the National Archives of Australia for searching on their fact sheets – [tip - make sure you click on the fact sheet links]

Next Records Managers Forum for NSW Public Sector on ICT and records partnerships – Nov 8 – Register here:

Interesting new museum experiences from launch of Powerhouse Museum Collection database API – Amped –


GLAM Transmedia

A story becomes richer when it is experienced in multiple platforms. This is the underlying principle behind transmedia production — a technique increasingly being used by publishing, broadcasters, the advertising industry and now the cultural sector to promote a product, like an exhibition. Marketing and publicity are relying less on the traditional forms of advertising and are using stories to promote an idea. Museums and other collecting institutions have an advantage in using this strategy because they do not have to invent a strong narrative — history has already written the script.

The CAN Outreach Blog has asked the directors of two production companies specialising in this area how cultural organisations can adopt this communication style on a budget – Nathan Anderson, of Envelop Entertainment, and Jennifer Wilson, of The Project Factory. Ms Wilson says the key to a successful transmedia strategy is to ensure messages on both platforms are consistent but not interdependent. One of the most recent projects she has worked on in this field is designing a game for the ABC’s animation series The gradual demise of Phillipa Finch by artist Emma Magenta. The game is designed to be played on all smartphone devices. Ms Wilson says the player does not need to have watched the television show to play the game and vice versa.

There are exciting possibilities for museums to develop transmedia stories within the exhibition space using a mix of mobile devices, print media and public programmes. Ms Wilson suggests institutions could develop their exhibitions by integrating apps into the experience — using augmented reality to contextualise the object, offering more information about its history through collection access and to transform the artefact into the subject of interactive games.

Augmented reality applications are readily available to download for free on smartphones and can be used to enhance the museum viewer experience. Mobile augmented reality browsers Junaio and Layar take the museum experience into the virtual space. Sydney-based mobile and online innovation company, MOB Labs, has been experimenting with the Powerhouse Museum’s historic photographs using Layar. Ms Wilson is excited by the possibilities Junaio offers. Reality can be augmented by altering the longitude, latitude and altitude points in the mobile phone. For example, holding the phone up to view an Egyptian mummy in a museum can transport the viewer to a pyramid outside Cairo.

Mr Anderson set-up a transmedia production company and studio in early 2009 to meet this growing trend of cross-platform entertainment. Game development is particularly significant in television and film industries, with soap operas starting to use online games. Museums, galleries and libraries are increasingly needing to compete with mainstream leisure activities, like sporting matches and television, so they are turning to developing games to deepen the audience’s experience with the story or product. This has meant games are flooding the market making it a highly competitive medium.

The Tate Britain developed iPhone game Tate Trumps that encourages players to think about its art collection from a different perspective. Players build a deck of cards from the Tate’s collection of artworks. Players can choose to play one of three games – mood, battle and collector – using the principles of ‘paper, scissors, rock’ to see which artwork out plays the other. Viewers can play the game in the gallery or at home. Mr Anderson says the game met two main principles of a successful campaign – crossing over into the real world and creating a social experience.

Museums could adopt a similar campaign to that of the History Channel / foursquare partnership. Using the principles of play, foursquare takes participants to the site of the Gettysburg address. Mr Anderson believes this is more powerful than the documentary screened on television. On the flip-side, foursquare may not have enough participants in Australia to support this type of project unless it became part of a specific school program.

The ABC has recently experimented with alternate reality games which sit on the boundary between education and entertainment. Sam Doust developed a web-based documentary and game based on a leading atmospheric science researcher who whistleblows on the philanthropic project Bluebird. This project was viewed as having limited success as there were a small number of viewers but each one was highly engaged.

For those interested in this field, there is a site with a collection of blog posts on transmedia production.


Allsorts Online 09 on the Web

The Collections Australia Network (CAN) has posted six videos from the Allsorts Online 09 Forum in Adelaide for the benefit of those people who were not able to travel the distance. Science communicator Susannah Elliot talks about how cultural institutions can use history to look at contemporary issues. Gavin Artz explains how the arts can benefit from the disruptive digital revolution from the perspective of the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT). Gavin Bannerman offers wild and entertaining stories about a mobile hairdressing salon in Cape York from the State Library’s Q150 digital storytelling project.

The presentations are a snapshot into some of the innovative projects happening in the sector. The panel discussion at the end of the forum was a terrific debate as to where the sector is going. It questioned whether institutions should become broadcasters or whether their role should remain as collectors and preservers of history. This is an issue the National Film and Sound Archive now faces as it relaunches its website Australian Screen Online. Allsorts Online 09 was hosted in collaboration with the State Library of South Australia and the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT). Here are some photos on Flickr of the event. State Library of NSW’s Ellen Forsyth uses Twitter as a note-taking device. The Twitter hashtag for the forum was #Allsorts09.

AusStage: Collective Intelligence and Data Visualisation for Performing Arts eResearch

Dr Jonathan Bollen: Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities, Flinders University
AusStage is the Australian hub for research on live performance, linking researchers in universities, industry and government. It stimulates smart information use, promotes collaboration on innovative methodologies, and integrates access to collections. AusStage is extending its infrastructure to harness collective intelligence, to visualise the knowledge embedded in the AusStage database, and to deliver next-generation tools and services for information analysis, while continuing to populate the database with comprehensive coverage of live performance in Australia.

Jonathan plays a leading role in coordinating research for the AusStage project, with particular interests in data visualisation. He is co-author of Men at Play: Masculinities in Australian Theatre since the 1950s (with Adrian Kiernander and Bruce Parr, Rodopi 2008). His research on gender, sexuality and performance has been published in The Drama Review, Social Semiotics and Australasian Drama Studies.

Disruptive Digital

Gavin Artz, CEO, Australian Network for Arts and Technology (ANAT)
Gavin Artz’s experience in business management ranges from multi-national companies, to not-forprofit community organisations. His diverse background spans arts and commerce – with a BA in Politics; Double Bass and Composition Studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music; a Graduate Certificate in Business Management; and he is now completing his MBA. After working as a professional musician for many years, Gavin is currently pursuing creativity in business management with a focus on governance and strategy.

Digital Storytelling: Storylines – Q150 Digital Stories

Gavin Bannerman: Oral History and Digital Storytelling Coordinator, State Library of Queensland
Storylines is the State Library of Queensland’s digital storytelling project to capture the people, places and events that make up Queensland in its 150th year. Hear about the challenges of interviewing aboard moving steam trains, trying to contact travelling hairdressers in Cape York and making the outcomes accessible to the public.

Gavin has commissioned, created, acquired, registered, documented and made accessible oral histories and digital stories that relate to SLQ’s strategic objective of capturing “Queensland Memory.” Gavin is trained as an archivist, receiving a Graduate Diploma in Records Management and Archives from Curtin University. He has been involved with arranging and describing archival material, training cultural organisation staff in image digitisation, and consulting with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities regarding cultural clearance for images in SLQ’s collection.

Open Access: Conquering Copyright

Jessica Coates, Project Manager, Creative Commons Australia and the Creative Commons Clinic, Queensland University of Technology
Navigating the ins and out of copyright law can often be the most costly and difficult part of providing open access to a collection. Jessica will talk about what can and is being done by collecting institutions worldwide to share their collections and engage with audiences in the digital era – legally.

Jessica examines the legal mechanisms that encourage innovation in the creative industries, and promote and track the implementation of the international open content licensing movement, Creative Commons, in Australia. Prior to working for the Clinic, Jessica spent most of the last decade as a copyright and communications policy officer with the Commonwealth Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA).

Web 2.0 and Social Media: Collections, Flickr and the Media

Jenny Scott, Content Services Librarian, State Library of South Australia
In her presentation Jenny describes the process by which she brought a small private collection to the attention of a nation. The collection of photos and documents that could have easily been lost or discarded over the previous 60 years became the foundation of a Web 2.0 project that gained front page media attention.

Jenny is implementing the State Library’s presence on Flickr. After completing an Associate Diploma in Photography in the early 1980s Jenny operated her own commercial photography business at Port Adelaide. In 1993 she graduated BA in History and Politics from Adelaide University and in 1994 Graduate Diploma in Library and Information Management from the University of South Australia. After three years as an archivist with State Records of South Australia in 2000 she moved to the State Library of South Australia to take up the position of Curator Pictorial Collection.

Building Relationships with Media to Promote Research

Susannah Elliot, CEO Science Media Centre, Adelaide
Mention the word science to a senior editor and you’ll see them shift uncomfortably and look around for an excuse to get away from you. But talk to them about the dust storms in Sydney, why there are more mosquitoes this year, the science of Taser guns or even the bizarre mating habits of redback spiders and you’ll have their interest.

The reason for this is that those outside the realm of science and research still see it as an academic pursuit of little relevance to their daily lives. This talk is about making research the topic of media interest by making it relevant to the current debates and the breaking news with which we’re all consumed.

Susannah works with the news media to inject more evidence-based science into public discourse. Prior to this she spent more than five years in Stockholm, Sweden, as director of communications for the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), an international network of scientists studying global environmental change. In the 1990s Susannah managed the Centre for Science Communication at UTS, where she helped establish the successful Horizons of Science series of media roundtables and was involved in numerous other initiatives such as Science in the Pub and Science in the Bush.


Allsorts09: Collecting sector and media partnerships

Commercialising publicly-owned content. Feeding cultural heritage collections into the news cycle. Profiling the eccentricities of curators. Sharing collections with ABC Online. Cultural collectors as producers and broadcasters. The ideas discussed in the Allsorts Online 09 panel discussion, in Adelaide last week, challenged conventions and offered new perspectives on how the cultural sector operates. Allsorts09 drew on different media, arts and academic practices to start thinking about the future of the collecting sector in new ways. The sector will be able to contribute to Australia’s National Cultural Policy through the Government’s current public consultation process.

Chris Winter (ABC Innovation), Sandra McEwen (Powerhouse Museum) and Angelina Russo (Swinburne University). Photography by Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Social Media Co-ordinator Brent Blackburn

Swinburne University academic Angelina Russo opened the discussion on the future of cultural institutions by focusing on the connections between broadcasters and the collecting sector. She suggested the future of the museum will be as publisher and broadcaster. Curators will become commissioning editors. Ms Russo cited four examples where relationships have been built between media organisations and cultural organisations.

*Smithsonian Channel set up with an online television channel with Showtime Networks to capitalise on it extensive collection.
*Who Do You Think You Are? BBC and SBS broadcast archival material into living rooms about the family history of celebrities. This brought amateur genealogists back into the collecting sector as they researched their own histories. Who Do You Think You Are? strengthened the relationship between museums, archives, the offical sponsor and the BBC and SBS.
*Origins of Australian Football website looked at the history of AFL using the State Library of Victoria collection. The library used a major celebrity (AFL) to push content out and then drew on people’s curiosities to bring the audience back in.
*Te Papa and the Colossal Squid. Te Papa filmed the public defrosting of the squid donated to the museum frozen using a web cam. Discovery Channel was invited to make a documentary and TV journalists were also present. Te Papa web team blogged, tweeted answering an active respoionse from the international scientist community. This built strong public interest in the lead-up to the exhibition over the next six months. The exhibition was tied in with public lectures, a children’s programme and an online 3-D game involving building your own squid.

The Allsorts09 panellists were: Susannah Elliot from the Science Media Centre suggested a Sarah Keith (SBS), Ingrid Mason (Collections Australia Network), Sandra McEwen (Powerhouse Museum), Fee Plumley (Australia Council), Angelina Russo (Swinburne University) and Chris Winter (ABC Innovation).

ABC Innovation Manager New Services Chris Winter has been actively working to remove the boundaries between the collecting sector and the national broadcaster. He believes collecting institutions like the Powerhouse Museum and State Library of NSW see the ABC as an attractive platform to showcase its material through projects like Sydney Sidetracks. Mr Winter also looked at the changing way broadcasters present stories. Four Corners, for example, airs its documentary on ABC1 while repackaging it for the web with timelines, maps, edits and behind-the-scenes interviews. These different formats attract different age groups. Ms Russo agreed that broadcasters and the collecting sector are natural partners. They need to support each other but do not necessarily need to collaborate. She also identified republishing and repurposing as the next point of tension.

SBS National Manager Client Solutions Sarah Keith agreed with Mr Winter that broadcasters have become a content delivery business and can no longer afford to look at themselves as producing television and web material separately. SBS focuses on content and audience as an overall brand approach. SBS no longer has a Director of Television and a Director of Online but it has a Director of Content. This wholistic approach operates in the advertising department where the SBS sales team sells across platforms. They look at which audiences SBS needs to connect with and who they want to partner with.

The cultural sector is going through an identity crisis, says Collections Australia Network National Project Manager Ingrid Mason, who believes cultural institutions need to ‘get to grips with what they are actually supposed to be doing’ onsite and online. They should be drawing on skills used in the media, the arts and academia to achieve its core function. The blurring lines between these sectors is a necessary function for success, Ms Mason says.

The role of Web 2.0 in the collecting sector has increasingly significant in the last few years. Creative Commons Clinic Project Manager Jessica Coates remembered only a couple of years ago people were worried that posted comments would undermine a curator’s authority. Now conversation has come a long way. A speaker in the audience articulated the importance of museums positioning themselves as an authorative figure in the education system as students needed trusted sources.

Arts Council Digital Programs Officer Fee Plumley stressed that people find their own trusted sources. ‘We find an aggregator that provides reliable information. We are all experts in something. The didactic approach of only one expert is outmoded. It is great that we all get to be experts in one field,’ Ms Plumely said. She also emphasised that as more people participate in the online environment, traditional sources will be more highly valued. People will want to pay for high resolution photographs as more low resolution photographs are seen on the Internet.

Museums take authority very seriously, says the Powerhouse Museum’s Prinicpal Curator Sandra McEwen. There is a need to maintain boundaries yet museums realise people are learning in different ways and so they need to deliver truth in an entertaining way. The ABC has come to realise the way news has to be delivered is based on social capital. There is tension between social capital and maintaining the brand, says Mr Winter.

Science Media Centre Chief Executive Officer Susannah Elliot’s is wary of the blurring lines and news services maintaining credibility. Lobby groups infiltrating the news broadcast process. Ms Elliot stressed the need to ensure separation between lobby and evidence-based information.

Allsorts Online 09 ended with some exciting possibilties for future partnerships and collaborations with the collecting sector and the media. Both entities need to have a conversation with its audiences and both draw on archives to share and preserve cultural heritage. Web 2.0 has made way for an exciting future and a new way of looking at collections.

Sarah Rhodes

Top image caption: High heeled shoe on tricycle, `Liquorice Allsorts’, designed by Ross Wallace, used in `Parade of Icons’ Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony, Sydney 2000. Collection: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Part of the Sydney 2000 Games Collection. Gift of the New South Wales Government, 2001.


Mentoring digital media projects: Chris Winter (ABC)

ABC Innovation ’s Chris Winter is at XMedia Lab, Amsterdam, this week mentoring the development of future digital public media projects. This is where some of the most cutting edge work is developed. Chris will be speaking at the Allsorts Online forum in Adelaide on December 1. He will be speaking about the exciting new projects ABC Innovation is working on as well as giving insights on Sydney Sidetracks and Gallipoli.

What is your role at the ABC?
I have been involved in a number of projects over the last few years – managing ABC2 from launch in 2005 until mid 2007, the ABC mobile election & news application in 2007/2008, Sydney Sidetracks, delivered to online and mobile platforms in 2008 (and pleasingly winning some commendations and an award along the way), an oversight and mentoring role on a number of other projects – ABC Earth, ABC FORA, ABC Mobile (2009), the Big Diary — and now more and more developing and managing relationships with outside bodies that are pertinent to our work – universities, research organisations, museums and other collections (as a result of the Sidetracks project), government (state and federal) and helping organise for staff presentations by interesting visitors, as well as internal events promoting learning, discussion and collaboration – a day for the ABC’s web developers for example, held early this year.

What is the focus of this years’s XMedia Lab in Amsterdam – XML Amsterdam “Public Media”?
The general themes are articulated at XMedia Lab. I have chosen to focus on interaction and audience behaviours, and how the latter have affected our work and our strategies.

XMedia Lab is designed to assist people to get their own digital media ideas successfully to market. How does your role at the ABC support this idea?
XMediaLab is a golden opportunity for people seeking feedback and advice about digital media projects at various stages of development. Getting to market may indeed mean a commercial outcome, or it may simply mean an idea is on its way to realisation and publication. Helping any project along this path is completely consistent with my role at the ABC, and has the added benefit of improving my skills, knowledge and experience through exposure to both the other mentors and the project teams.

Over the years quite non-commercial ABC projects have benefitted from the hothouse of an XMediaLab and exposure to experienced media workers who may bring a completely new and refreshing point of view – not only through their formal presentations, but through the intense one on one sessions in the lab.

Do you see a role for collecting institutions within public broadcasters’ multi-channel programming? Is there an example where there is happening in other countries?
Absolutely – and by the time I return from my trip, I may have a more detailed answer for you! Perhaps not a whole channel though …

How could collecting institutions, as not-for-profit entities, apply the principles of “commercialising digtial media ideas” to their own operations?
My interest in collections so far has been confined to finding reasons and opportunities to give often hidden treasures an airing – again Sidetracks is one such example, a reminder of past places, people and events, and so too is Gallipoli, although much more focused of course – without any thought of making money. Interestingly, as the Powerhouse has discovered, making some of a collection more accessible under a Creative Commons licence – in other words, in a limited sense, for free – has not affected their ability to make money from the collection. However, one hopes that more and more examples of a collection become more and more easily browseable – making them more easily appreciated and acquirable. Of course I am talking of images here, rather than three-dimensional physical objects.

To what extent should publicly-funded cultural bodies be involved in developing digital media projects that competes alongside commercial entertainment in the marketplace?
Many publicly-funded cultural bodies are the homes of wonderful stories – the challenge is either getting them out so they can be enjoyed in places other than dark rooms in far away cities, or presented in such a way that word of mouth makes an exhibition a “must see” – perhaps ACMI’s new display area is one such example. Or its Mediatheque which allows rights-fraught material to be seen without breaking the law. Perhaps one day the three-dimensional objects that populate much of the real estate in museums can be enjoyed remotely and cleverly without losing any of their “presence”. After all, what’s important about a museum is not the four walls, but what its collections stand for and the staff who understand their importance and the stories that surround them. If solving these problems distracts people from “commercial entertainment” or even makes money, that’s fine with me. The ABC is publicly-funded, and largely not-for-profit, yet it is allowed to generate income from goods associated with its charter activities – although of course, not everyone is necessarily happy about that!

As an XMedia Lab mentor, what message will you be sending out to those people travelling to Amsterdam?
I’m not sure exactly who these people will be, and I don’t really have a single message – but what’s important to me about a place like the ABC are the wonderful storytellers who work there – whether the stories are real or made up – and whether we can keep a grip on how important it is to reach everyone with those stories – regardless of who they are, where they live, when they choose to become absorbed in our stories, what device they choose to use – and to ENGAGE them. Alarming for some perhaps is the reality that we are becoming curators as well as creators.

Event: Allsorts Online Forum
Date: December 1
Venue: State Library of South Australia, Adelaide
Cost: Free
Time: 8.30am – 5pm + Drinks

Event: Allsorts Online Masterclasses
Date: December 2
Venue: Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) and the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus)
Cost: $250 per 3-hour session
Time: 9am – Noon, 1pm – 4pm

Image caption: High heeled shoe on tricycle, `Liquorice Allsorts’, designed by Ross Wallace, used in `Parade of Icons’ Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony, Sydney 2000. Collection: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Part of the Sydney 2000 Games Collection. Gift of the New South Wales Government, 2001.


Revealing the Arts: a snapshot

The biggest problem the arts community faces is that it is not part of the political or social agenda, the head of ABC TV Kim Dalton said at the Revealing the Arts conference yesterday. He expressed his frustration at how the sector was not being taken seriously while the Federal Government pledged $4.7 billion to the National Broadband Network, $22 billion in “nation building infrastructure spending” and $3.1 billion over four years on innovation. Mr Dalton invited all arts organisations to work with the ABC and the Australia Council to lobby the Government and put the arts back on the agenda.

Mr Dalton saw the ABC as a laboratory for creative projects. It has the branding and platforms to be the ideal partner for creating new work and attracting new audiences. He believed the feeling in the room was that there finally was an acceptance of the digital era as a platform in its own right rather than it just being a marketing tool. The ABC was ready to collaborate and partner with the arts community to explore this new medium.

The ABC and Australia Council hosted Revealing the Arts to enable the arts community to engage in ‘creative conversations and solutions for the digital era’. The two-day conference embraced a Web 2.0 philosophy with host and ABC journalist Virginia Trioli involving the audience and Twitterers in a dialogue with panellists after each keynote speaker’s address. A live webcast encouraged the public to answer questions ranging from ‘Show Me Your Arts’, ‘Show Me How’, ‘Who owns Your Arts’, ‘Get ‘Em While They’re Young’ and ‘Show Me the Money’.

Michael Lynch, who has just returned from an eight year reign over the South Bank Centre theatre venues in London, and is now an ABC board director, says it is time for arts institutions to engage differently with governments. No longer can they rely on governments to come up with legislation and funding. The arts need to be more proactive and ‘push and pull governments to work for arts institutions’.

Wollongong University Head of Music and Drama Sarah Miller believed that it was time to build relationships across all platforms and ‘give up the silos’. Physical TV co-founder Richard James Allen agreed it was time for traditional and new media to be seen as their own categories and and to allow the bridge between both to have a place as well.

After intensive and often heated discussion around the lack of representation of artists in the room, whether there should be open-access or copyright is a legitimate income stream, the conference concluded with Australia Council CEO Kathy Keele and Mr Dalton drafting a to do list they could work on together to create a better environment for artists to work in the digital era.

The three main themes discussed througout Revealing the Arts were:
• Co-operation and partnership
• Sharing rights and access
• Digital world exists in own right with own set of values and potential

As the conversation invariably came back to the issue of rights, Ms Keele believed the Australia Council and its arts community needed to work to create better conditions for artists working in the digital era. How can the public access the nation’s archives and collections? Can an artist use these archives in their artwork? How do artists’s protect themselves? Rights training for arts organsations and fostering stronger relationships between arts organisations and artists was also a priority.

In an Australian first, the ABC launched its raw news footage of the Brisbane Zombie Walk under a Creative Commons licence onto its collaborative website Pool. The ABC has embraced the Govt 2.0 movement of sharing its resources by licensing its raw news footage under a Creative Commons licence.

The ABC has also just launched its arts portal ABC Arts.

Sarah Rhodes


Shelf Life: woollen swimsuits and beauty pageants

‘Quite a few people come to the Research Library from the theatre, designers, artists and authors, gallery owners, antique dealers. It’s a dream getting all of these interesting people.’

Costume and set designers can often be found with their heads buried in a book in the Powerhouse Museum Research Library, looking into the history of costumes and props for their next production. Fashion designer Kit Willow-Podgornik has spent hours poring over costume books and periodicals, researching designs for her fashion shows in New York or Milan.

Powerhouse Museum research librarians Karen Johnson, Dimity Holt and Philippa Rossiter

Research Librarian Philippa Rossiter, together with colleague Dimity Holt, facilitates Museum curators’, exhibition designers’ and editors’ collection research, but some of the most interesting explorations come from the public.

It was the partnership with Little Leaf Pictures in the pre-production research for the ABC children’s television series My Place that captured the imagination of Research Library staff. Based on the classic story book by Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins, My Place is the story of a Sydney terrace house over 100 years as seen through the eyes of the different children who lived there.

‘We had to find examples of clothing for each decade from 1888 to 1988, while reflecting the changes of interior décor in a terrace house over that time,’ Philippa said.

‘We needed to find product labels in colour so we looked in store catalogues to get the colours right, so then the artists would reproduce them. We researched domestic detail in depth, such as the sort of bread people had, or containers for milk and eggs.

The hardest things to find were examples of packaging for fireworks for the year 1911. Surprisingly, I found that today’s fireworks packaging is not so different from what was used at that time.

‘You do learn a lot. It is really like living back in those days. It is a very rewarding job because people are so focused on what they are looking for and so pleased with what you give them.’

Aviva Ziegler (two-time Logie winning director), Melissa Hines and Veronica Fury conducted extensive research in preparation for Fury Productions’ two-part series for SBS entitled The Glamour Game. Screened on SBS in November 2007, this series investigates the evolving face of Australian beauty and fashion, with the first episode looking at the history of the Miss Australia Quest and the second episode examining the progress of fashion in Australia, from Christian Dior’s New Look of 1948 to the present day.

Young women posing in swimsuits on sand dune, glass lantern slide, 1940s, Flickr Commons / State Library and Archives of Florida.

Diving into someone’s field of interest and swimming around with them through the material on offer at the Powerhouse Museum Research Library can produce some very unexpected results. Fashion designer and Queensland University of Technology PhD Candidate, Christine Schmidt, was researching the history of women’s bathing costumes between 1900 and 1950. While Philippa worked alongside her, the pair found a 1935 knitting pattern for a woollen swimsuit. Christine had the costume knitted up and found a mistake in the pattern and so knitted another one without the mistake to compare. After that, swimming costume knitting patterns started coming out of the woodwork. This led to an exhibition of the completed woollen costumes.

Make an appointment with Philippa Rossiter and let her know what you are looking for so she has time to think about what material you may need for when you arrive. Philippa and her two colleagues, Dimity Holt and Karen Johnson, are adept at combining their individual knowledge of this wonderful collection and finding material from unexpected subject areas.

Contact details for library staff are: Philippa Rossiter phone (02) 9217 0258; Dimity Holt (02) 9217 0259; Karen Johnson (02) 9217 0533.

Check out the Powerhouse Museum Research Library blog to learn about the range of research inquiries these professionals field.