A Question of Identity

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at Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne

The Edge of the World: Australia and Globalism

Australia has long been haunted by the spectre of ‘cultural cringe’ – nowhere more so, perhaps, than in our arts.

But in the globalised new millennium, has all that changed? Have we finally stopped waiting with baited breath for international tastemakers to tell us what’s worth celebrating – or are we developing a confident new swagger of our own?

Gina McColl, arts editor of the Age, will be talking to a panel of decision-makers from our leading arts festivals: Carrillo Gantner, president of the Melbourne Festival, Josephine Ridge, creative director at Melbourne Festival and Emily Sexton, artistic director at the Next Wave Festival.

They’ll consider whether globalisation has meant opportunities for Australian artists working overseas – and to what extent Australian culture has won over audiences beyond our shores.

Are there first, second and third world cultural economies? And what does this mean for indigenous art and artists – and for the concept of the cultural cringe?

Co-presented by the Melbourne Festival and the Wheeler Centre.


Portrait of Carrillo Gantner

Carrillo Gantner

Carrillo Gantner is President of the Melbourne Festival and chairman of the Sidney Myer Fund.

Portrait of Josephine Ridge

Josephine Ridge

Josephine Ridge is one of Australia’s most experienced and internationally respected arts identities. Earlier this year, she began her tenure as Creative Director at Melbourne Festival, planning the Festival program from 2013. From 2003 to 2012 she was at Sydney Festival as General Manager, followed by Executive Director and co-CEO.

Portrait of Gina McColl

Gina McColl

Gina McColl is The Age’s arts editor. Before becoming a journalist, Gina taught fine arts and cinema studies at the University of Melbourne.

Portrait of Emily Sexton

Emily Sexton

Emily Sexton is a former Head of Programming for the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas.

She was the recipient of a prestigious Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship in 2014. Previously, she was Artistic Director of Next Wave (2010–14), where her key achievements were a radical rethink of an arts festival model, and a series of landmark commissions, publications and talks featuring First Nations artists, co-curated with Tony Albert and Tahjee Moar and titled Blak Wave.

In 2013, she was Artistic Director of the Ian Potter Cultural Trust’s 20th Anniversary Celebrations at the Melbourne Recital Centre. She was also Creative Producer for Melbourne Fringe Festival for 2008–10.

Emily has been a proud Board Member for Arena Theatre Company, Snuff Puppets and Theatre Network Victoria, and is alumnus of the Australia Council’s Emerging Leaders Program (2011). She is a regular peer assessor for the Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria, and other philanthropic trusts and foundations. Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications, English) from the University of Sydney (2005). She is a regular host and facilitator for writers’ festivals and arts organisations around Australia.

A Question of Identity

What does it mean to be Australian today? Is being Australian important to the art we produce, or promote?

As Melbourne Festival brings the best of international art to Melbourne, this series of talks explores the nature of the Australia we present to the world. Are our iconic cultural notions and images relevant to the Australia we live in, and why are they buried deep in the bush, while most of us live clinging to the coastal fringe?

Over three nights we present panel discussions hosted by some of Melbourne finest cultural commentators, to explore our place in the world, investigate how Australian identity is shifting and discuss what it all means for the art we create. Join the conversation.


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