What’s so real about ‘Keeping It Real’?

Many readers will be aware that since 2010 the AlburyCity Cultural Services Team has hosted a series of one-day industry conferences called Keeping It Real.

This year’s conference again focused on the future, on how to develop sustainable cultural practices in a regional landscape, and featured an impressive line-up with several presentations showcasing exceptional models of engagement with what could be argued as increasingly diverse audiences. But before we get to those, we wanted to explore what Keeping It Real is really getting at.

Jacqui Hemsley at the helm of AlburyCity Cultural Services describes the importance of thinking ahead, in these terms:

“We sometimes forget that what we do today in our museums and galleries affects how our collections are accessed, managed and interpreted for years to come and not just for the duration of our personal careers. Poorly planned and ill thought-out actions can have detrimental results for generations to come, and in small regional centres where budgets and resources are always modest, this can have significant impacts”.

It’s not just about planning and spending modest budgets carefully, it’s being able to develop best practice and innovative approaches to local and regional issues, which is why Keeping It Real presents an invaluable opportunity. At every Keeping It Real conference, volunteer and paid workers in museums, galleries, libraries and cultural education centres can have access to a variety of practical workshops and speakers for an accessible price.

Emphasis is placed on not biting off more than you can chew; on developing and implementing sustainable practices within regional cultural institutions whether it be by collaboratively assessing collections policies, developing commercial partnerships with local businesses, or asserting the importance of responsive cultural programming to those within the caucus of local governments.

It’s about as much about future-proofing, as it is about investing in, and supporting professionals to develop viable skills for the regional milieu.

We sometimes forget that what we do today in our museums and galleries affects how our collections are accessed, managed and interpreted for years to come and not just for the duration of our personal careers.

Keeping It Real does this by showcasing successful campaigns and projects from the year prior, which leads us nicely back to this year’s contributors.

One of the highlights was from Kiersten Fishburn who heads up the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre. She spoke about shaping contemporary cultural development programs so as they deliver the goods. As groups within local communities continue to diversify it is imperative that organisations respond by offering genuine access and engagement which addresses the different groups’ cultural needs in cultural vocabularies they define.

Artist Vic McEwan (CAD Factory)has worked in several small communities over many years and is skilled at doing just that. He delivered a dynamic presentation on the unique opportunities available to regional artists and challenged the idea that large cities are the only place build networks and a cutting edge practice. Vic, some would say–radically–posed the idea that distance is not a barrier to having a strong, contemporary artistic voice.

Inspirational examples of international and national creativity and collaboration were brought to this year’s audience by Rose Hiscock, Director of the newly renamed Powerhouse Museum, now the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. This was a prescient reminder that great things can be achieved by developing strong networks to connect and engage with local people, a point reinforced by Jacqui Hemsley:

“As a manager, I want to ensure that I have the best team available for the dollars I can offer. A professional team of people who find solutions rather than make problems; embrace the ‘new’ seamlessly, on-time and in budget; are lateral creative thinkers and sound communicators who can skip effortlessly between their professional cultural fields of expertise and the bureaucratic, process orientated service organisation that is local government.”

Once we can do all that; we’ll be keeping it real.

For more information go to the website www.keepingitrealalbury.com


Thanks to Jacqui Hemsley and Bridget Guthrie for their assistance.

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