“The future has already arrived. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.” William Gibson
This quote reflects what it is like to view the world through the work of ANAT, where we assist creative practitioners to develop the new ground where art, science, technology, culture, community and commerce meet in harmony. Looking back over six years of Filter Magazine you can see how creative practitioners working with science and technology not only foretell what will be the significant themes of research, but how we will be engaging with it culturally.
This foresight by creative practitioners becomes more pertinent, as we reach a stage in technological development, where the biggest hurdles are the cultural influences on how we engage and live with technology. In navigating this new terrain the inclusion of creative practitioners is crucial – lucky for us they are more than willing to engage.
A recent Cultural Collaboration, Commercialisation & Career Study undertaken by ANAT and The Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre (ECIC) at the University of Adelaide, highlights this shift, with 94% of respondents wanting to commercialise intellectual property derived from their creative work and trans-disciplinary collaboration being the key unifier across all creative practice. This may come as a surprise as creative practitioners are often relegated to a marginal position in society, seen as cultural window dressing that should only be viewed in galleries or as entertainment at events – influencing from the fringes. This is in stark relief to the 80% of Australians who believe that “the arts expose us to new ideas and get us to question things” and that “the arts are an important way of helping people think and work creatively”. If we overlook these views we are disregarding something fundamental about our desire and capacity as citizens to bring a creative culture to bear on the type of society and economy we want to have.
Over the past ten years, ANAT has witnessed the results of placing artists within scientific and technological research environments. The artist looks at the project and evaluates how it applies to themselves, their community and their culture. They ask sophisticated questions about how we as humans, and as citizens, will be living with these advancements and reflect on sustainability at the human scale. Often in thinking about cultural sustainability we focus on the financial viability of the sector and take for granted that this also encompasses other conceptions such as environmental, social and economic sustainability. But unless this is articulated, few get to see the full impact of creative cultural practice – and its benefits.
If Australia is to be sustainable, we need to seek new resources for building true wealth – part of this is reconsidering what our key national resources are. We have a hugely underutilized resource of creative cultural practice; a resource enables us not only to think culturally, but to also conceive of our culture, community and economy as an interwoven complex system. We already believe creative practitioners provide the valuable leadership skills we need for a sustainable future, creating a significant centre from which we can develop notions of democratic citizenship and dynamic sustainable economies.
Such trans-disciplinary creative practitioners are working in a space where the future is already happening and ANAT is working to distribute this future for all of us to enjoy.
Read the full Cultural Collaboration, Commercialisation & Career Study.
 Our Trandisciplinary Future, Gavin Arts, 2009. http://filter.anat.org.au/issue-73/our-trans-disciplinary-future/
 Australia Council for the Arts. 2010, “ More than bums on seats: Australian Participation in the Arts.” Australia Council for the Arts, Sydney.
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