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ABC News Breakfast -

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VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Now, the Federal Arts Minister Simon Crean has told a class of graduating students
that the Government's preparing a new national cultural policy. This will be the first time in
almost two decades that a federal government has developed a policy of this kind. The Minister for
the Arts Simon Crean joins us now from Canberra. Simon Crean, good morning, good to talk to you.

SIMON CREAN: You too, Virginia; how are you?

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: I think the last time we had a national cultural policy, wasn't that Paul
Keating's Creative Nation?

SIMON CREAN: It was, almost two decades ago. And I think the problem has been that as the global
economy has grown, what has also happened is that innovation and creativity has become a key part
to the success of nations.

So I think it's timely that not only that we do it again - because it's two decades after the event
- but the circumstances of all the research shows that if you want to lift the education
attainment, you've got to invest in the creative arts. And that's why we're putting the emphasis on
getting the arts into the national school curriculum.

A creative nation is a more productive nation and it's in Australia's interest to become
productive. It's also the case that a creative nation and learning through the arts creates a
better-values society, a better values in our citizenry, a more tolerant a more expressive, a more
responsive community. So it's an investment that's in the interests not just of the individuals
that directly benefit, but in the interest of the nation as well. And what I'm keen to do with this
cultural policy is to join the dots, not marginalise the arts and have it seen as some sort of
elitist-type exercise, but to bring it into the mainstream of what really matters and what
underpins the future of this great nation.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: That's going to mean - because it always seems to whenever you speak to anyone in
the arts industries - that has to mean significant government money. Is that what you're looking at
as well?

SIMON CREAN: I think it does require commitments of money, but we already commit significant
amounts of money to the arts and obviously, we have to look at the adequacy of it. But I think,
Virginia, there are two other important links that come readily to the mind. What about the
education system? How do we develop the pathways through school that not only use the arts to
develop and nurture and lift education attainment, but how do we use it as a pathway into the
training bodies, such as NIDA, for example; such as the circus and the ballet school, those sorts
of things; preparing students better for qualifications that are recognised there?

That's mainstream funding; it's got to be seen as part of the education vote... The other thing
that's going to change dramatically is the rollout of the National Broadband Network, because this
will enable great diversity in the content delivery, the applications, the creativity being used
not just for live performances but for teaching, but for extending the opportunity to see live
performance, virtual performances in regional Australia. So the application in terms of the
broadband rollout and digital productivity, this is another mainstream area of activity. These are
all areas of activity in which we can draw on existing resources, so to speak, but channel them in
the direction of their connectivity with the arts.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Does there need to be a mind-shift made as well, because whereas when our children
are younger, the thing that we most cherish and pin up on our walls all around our homes and our
desks are their drawings and pictures; when that child grows up and gets to university age, if they
s...[break in transmission] really want to - would rather go on and be a painter or a sculptor rather
than a doctor or a lawyer, as parents, everyone's horrified and try and push them towards those
more traditional jobs.

SIMON CREAN: Well, I think that's changing, Virginia. I mean, just yesterday at the graduation
ceremony at NIDA, I mean, the parents there, mightily proud of the product that they're turning
out, because they see in them people who are using their expressive and their creative talents and
going on to pursue their passion. I think that you get the most out of people when you enable them
to pursue their passion.

So rather than downgrade the significance of the arts or see it as something not the same as a
doctor, we've got to promote the fact that what is unique in the Australian brand is its
creativity. And when we travel our performances over the seeds, they - overseas - they get world
acclaim. But what comes out in the unique Australian brand is our value set and our creativity. And
that, I think, is what parents, but particularly the students and the younger generation, is
getting. If that's the case, we have got to mobilise that talent; we've got to open up pathways as
diverse as we can; we've got to be creative as policy makers to nurture that creativity.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Simon Crean, good to talk to you again, thanks so much. I look forward to seeing
the policy.

SIMON CREAN: Okay, thanks, Virginia.

ENDS