Productive Nation? Museums, Cultural Policy and Australia’s Productivity Narrative

This article traces the emergence of productivity as a central theme in Australia’s national cultural policy, and discusses some implications of this development for the Australian museum sector. The analysis focuses on two texts – Australia’s two national cultural policies, Creative Nation (1994) and Creative Australia (2013) – to highlight changing policy rhetorics through which cultural heritage and cultural pluralism lose traction, and productivity, innovation and creativity find favour. The article argues that the government’s concern to boost sources of economic growth in twenty-first century Australia focus cultural policy on the arts and creative industries, seen as the locus of innovation and the wellspring of creative activity. The article argues against this narrow construction of productivity and its sources, showing why museums are important contributors to a productivity policy agenda in a culturally diverse and globalized society.

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