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Visiting Creativity Country: A Policy-maker s Travel Guide

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1 Visiting Creativity Country: A Policy-maker s Travel Guide Ainslie Yardley and John Bailey (Australia) Abstract This contribution looks at the theatre artist as facilitator in the social policy realm.
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1 Visiting Creativity Country: A Policy-maker s Travel Guide Ainslie Yardley and John Bailey (Australia) Abstract This contribution looks at the theatre artist as facilitator in the social policy realm. The authors discuss alternative interpretive angles and mediating possibilities offered by embodied creative processes, which are not otherwise available to social policy researchers. We discuss why social policy-makers need to be not only informed by applied theatre research and creative processes, but to have embodied creative processes integrated within their professional practice. The methodologies of theatre and policy-making both exist as carefully crafted distillations of thought, external data and experience. The most profound difference between them is that nondiscursive artistic materials emerge as transcendent configurations which clarify and make explicit the structure and meaning of lived experience. The authors elaborate on the theoretical underpinnings that place the applied theatre artist at the centre of the collaborative research process, able to guide people through the terrain of creativity country, and bring new ideas to fruition. Résumé Cette contribution examine l artiste de théâtre en tant que facilitateur dans le domaine de la politique sociale. Les auteurs discutent les angles d interprétation alternatifs et des possibilités de médiation offertes par des méthodes de travail créatif incorporé, non disponibles normalement aux chercheurs en politique sociale. Nous discutons de la raison pour laquelle les décideurs en matière de politique sociale ont non seulement besoin d être informés des résultats de la recherche théâtrale appliquée et des méthodes de travail créatif, mais doivent intégrer les méthodes de travail créatif incorporé dans leurs pratiques professionnelles. Les méthodologies appliquées au théâtre et en politique sociale existent toutes deux en tant que grandes distillations de pensées, de données extérieures et d expériences. La différence la plus profonde réside dans le fait que les matériaux artistiques non-discursifs émergent en tant que configurations transcendantes qui expliquent la structure et la signification de la vie vécue. Les auteurs élaborent sur les fondements théoriques qui placent l artiste de théâtre appliqué au centre d une méthode de recherche collaborative, capable de guider les individus sur le chemin de la créativité, tout en apportant de nouvelles idées. Resumen Esta contribución ve al artista de teatro como un facilitador dentro del campo de la política social. Los autores deliberan sobre ángulos alternativos interpretativos y las posibilidades de mediación ofrecidas por procesos creativos representados, los cuales no se encuentran de otras maneras disponibles a los investigadores de la política social. Nosotros discutimos el porqué los elaboradores de la política social, necesitan estar informados no solamente por la investigación del teatro aplicado y los procesos creativos, sino el de tener procesos creativos representados integrados dentro de su práctica profesional. Ambas metodologías del teatro y la elaboración de políticas existen como destilaciones cuidadosamente confeccionadas procedentes del 2 pensamiento, datos externos y la experiencia. La más profunda diferencia entre ellas es que los materiales artísticos que no son de índole discursivos surgen como configuraciones transcendentes que aclaran y hacen explícita la estructura y el significado de la experiencia vivida. Los autores profundizan sobre los fundamentos teóricos que colocan al artista del teatro aplicado en el centro del proceso de investigación colaboradora, capaz de guiar a las personas a través del terreno del país de la creatividad y que nuevas ideas den su fruto. Authors biographies Dr Ainslie Yardley is a novelist, theatre artist, non-fiction author and digital multimedia essayist. Her current work focuses on embodied creativity, and the role narrative plays in consciousness and communication. Her community work has included youth theatre productions and projects with refugee claimants from many areas of conflict internationally. John Bailey works for the Office of the Board of Studies in New South Wales. His academic research focuses on the development of theatrical performance within mental health care settings. Applied theatre work contexts include: refugee claimants, mental health services, youth, and forum theatre in rural and regional communities. John has lectured in theatre studies and performance skills, and facilitates workshops in forum theatre. Biographies des auteurs Dr Ainslie Yardley est un romancier, artiste de théâtre, auteur de documentaires et essayiste de multimédia digital. Son travail actuel se porte sur la créativité incorporée, et sur le rôle que la narration joue sur la conscience et la communication. Son travail communautaire inclut des productions de théâtre pour les jeunes et des projets avec des demandeurs d asile issus de nombreuses régions de conflit international. John Bailey travaille pour l Office of the Board of Studies de Nouvelle Galles du Sud. Son travail de recherche se porte sur le développement des performances de théâtre dans les instituts psychiatriques. Les contextes de travail du théâtre appliqué comprennent : les demandeurs d asile, les services psychiatriques, les jeunes, et le théâtre forum présent dans les campagnes et dans les communautés régionales. John a enseigné l art théâtral et les techniques de performance, et il a animé des ateliers de théâtre forum. Biografías de los autores La Dra. Ainslie Yardley es una novelista, artista de teatro, autora de obras que no son de ficción y ensayista del multimedia digital. Sus obras actuales se enfocan en la personificación de la creatividad, y el rol que la narrativa juega en el conciente y la comunicación. Su trabajo en pro de la comunidad ha incluido producciones de teatro de jóvenes y proyectos con solicitantes de refugio procedentes de muchas áreas en conflicto a nivel internacional. John Bailey trabaja para la Oficina de La Junta de Estudios en Nueva Gales del Sur. Su investigación de índole académica se enfoca en el desarrollo de la actuación teatral dentro del marco del cuido de salud mental. Las obras dentro del contexto de teatro aplicado incluyen: solicitantes de refugio, servicios de salud mental, jóvenes, y el foro teatral en las comunicaciones rurales y regionales. John ha dado cátedra en el estudio del teatro, destrezas en la representación y funge como facilitador en los foros del teatro. 3 Visiting Creativity Country: A Policy-maker s Travel Guide Introduction In this paper, we look at the theatre artist as facilitator in the social policy realm and discuss why social policy-makers need to be not only informed by applied theatre research and creative processes, but to have embodied creative process integrated within their professional practice. Policy-making, at its most effective, is a creative act. To be effective, policy-makers need to know how to personally occupy creative space in order to create good policy. We will contextualise our discussion by exploring recent directions in social policy development before examining how performative creative processes can be brought into play in social research. Recent redirections in social policy development Recent directions in social policy development have been influenced by theoretical preferences for compaction and segmentation. The policy emerging from this theoretical base has meant that, whether we are members of caring professions or support agencies, arts practitioners or academics, we will have been affected by the segmentation and compaction of our professional lives. Most of us no longer have the resources or the support and in many cases are simply not permitted to spend time with individual patients, clients, residents or students, let alone time to wander unharried in our own conceptual territory. The Third Wave Australian economic reforms over the past decade have followed similar patterns to other Western-style economies, such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand. In 2005, the Victorian state government asserted that the flood of national reforms Australia had been experiencing since the 1980s was not yet complete. In the early 1980s, the first wave of reform opened up the economy, floating the dollar, deregulating financial markets and ending tariff barriers. The second wave in the 1990s brought with it National Competition Policy. In a paper published before the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in February 2006 (Bracks 2005), the Victorian Bracks state government called for a third wave of national reform focusing on developing human capital. The paper promised that this third wave would deliver greater productivity combined with higher labour force participation through the improvement of health, learning and work outcomes. This third wave of reform appears to have some force behind it in terms of social policy development directions. Communiqué no. 1 of the February 2006 meeting of COAG (COAG 2006), entitled National Reform Agenda Human Capital Stream, confirmed the support of the prime minister, premiers and chief ministers for this reform focus to be placed on the national agenda. The recent New South Wales government s state plan focuses on the key priorities for the state government over the next ten years (Premier s Department, NSW 2006) and sets quantifiable outcomes for each of its priorities. In the area of health, for example, the plan defines the five stages of triage required to be followed in a hospital emergency ward and the acceptable waiting times within each of these stages. The wards keep count of all patients who come into the emergency ward, document their triage status and record how long it takes before they receive treatment. Inputs are based on this accounting system. 4 But, as was witnessed in the emergency room of a major Australian hospital recently, human beings do not necessarily always fit these measures. The community at large sees a woman s miscarriage in a hospital toilet in the woman s terms: as a profoundly traumatic experience and a great human loss made worse by the environment in which she found herself. This is an embodied outcome, not a numerical one, the repercussions of which included a wave of emotion that reverberated throughout the community. An unanticipated outcome such as this is a policy-maker s worst nightmare. To account for embodied outcomes, policy-makers need methodological tools that account for embodied experience. But before we start down that discursive pathway, it is important to briefly explore some changes to the way that people charged with the delivery of social policy the public sector are managed. It is through this channel that social reform is also managed. Ex-premier of Western Australia (and now director of the University of Sydney s Graduate School of Government), Professor Geoff Gallop, charts the beginning of contemporary public sector reform to the New Public Management movement of the 1980s. Agencies were no longer to be seen as part of a seamless public sector appointed for life to serve the needs of citizens. They were to be seen as separate entities employed to achieve specific outputs and outcomes established by government. Their role was to serve the interests of citizens as clients, customers or residents, rather than simply as taxpayers (Gallop 2006a). In order to achieve these goals, it was necessary for agencies to judge themselves in terms of economy, efficiency and effectiveness. Gallop suggests that what the concept of effectiveness might mean within the public realm was never adequately addressed. The concept of efficiency, on the other hand, proved a far simpler concept to apply, as resources were allocated via markets and benchmarks could be created to compare different jurisdictions. The primary role of government was seen to be to maximise the efficiency of their operations on behalf of their owners, the taxpayer. The four pillars In looking at the social security component of social policy, Robert Goodin (2000) refers to the commonly held view that social security rests on four pillars: the state, the market, the family and the community (2000: 8). The New Public Management approach to the mixed economy of welfare (Rainwater et al., cited in Goodin 2000: 10) was that the state share of the social welfare burden should be pared back and the other sectors allowed to take on more of the burden. This policy is based on the assumption that the other three pillars are strong enough to bear the added burden, an assumption that Goodin says is radically untrue (2000: 9). He argues that these three pillars are already collapsing under their current load: 1. Families are falling apart, with parents, grandparents and children separated by great distance. 2. The economic market no longer supplies stable incomes and support for private social security, due to the push for a flexible workforce and reduction in on-costs, such as leave and redundancy entitlements. 3. The large social security support offered within the community sector is becoming more difficult to realise with the increase in workforce participation by the traditional population of volunteers. And the people are not happy. 5 On 26 September 2007, the Sydney Morning Herald published an article entitled Stop the Treadmill, We Want to Get Off in which Tanya, a young voter from Western Sydney, was quoted as saying it feels like we re both earning really good money, but we re both pushing shit uphill trying to get ahead (Wade 2007). Wade s article highlighted one of the most significant issues facing politicians today: that while Australia is supposedly in the midst of an economic golden age, voters appear ready to dump the government who claims the credit. This article reports on a paper published by Relationships Forum Australia (RFA), which challenges the use of the Gross Domestic Product to measure human welfare or well-being, quoting Robert Kennedy s critique of 1967: Gross National Product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. (Wade 2007) The triple bottom line The RFA report argues that the only way to redress this failure is by focusing on developing true national wealth across all sectors of government in which the three dimensions of social policy are taken into account the triple bottom line of economic, environmental and social objectives. It argues that the language must change, with goals, inputs and outcomes of social policy being expressed in language appropriate to the various aspects of life, rather than falling back on the language of economics (Shepanski et al. 2007: 31). It argues that the relational aspects of the social dimension must be foregrounded. This aspect is emphasised by economics columnist Ross Gittins in a column in the Sydney Morning Herald, prompted by this same report, in which he asks why politicians find it so hard to accept that we might actually care about our families even at the expense of a dollar or two (Gittins 2007). This same need to focus on the triple bottom line is supported by Gallop as he argues for a strategic government characterised by a desire to be more comprehensive, a concern for results, a belief in community engagement and a search for public purpose and priorities based on human need (Gallop 2006b: 4). Picture this: the third wave, like a giant tsunami, surges towards a level playing field where the four pillars of social security stand erect like a tech-age Stonehenge, fenced in by the triple bottom line. The theatre artist as facilitator in the social policy realm Applied theatre practitioners and researchers, along with NGOs and community-based social service providers, have themselves felt the need, over the last 15 years or so, to absorb and use the language of New Public Management and economics in their search for legitimacy and a place at the funding table. Any words or phrases to do with nurturing and relationality seem to have become pejoratives. They are seen as motherhood statements and emotional deviations characteristic of a nanny state, and therefore worthy of excision from the policy-makers and policy implementers lexicon. In the process, the language of creativity and communication withers and atrophies. The language of theatre is an embodied language tingling, thudding, rumbling, sighing; full of anxiety and hope; anchored in and reflecting multi-layered lived-time and lived-space. There are no certainties and absolutes here. Well for goodness sake, you can t write policy in 6 language like that! Maybe not, but conceptualising what might be possible in social policy development becomes more than an intellectual exercise, or an exercise in logistical and fiscal control, if the body and the space the body occupies with other bodies are not forgotten. What can we do to keep our language and our practice vital and alive when we are asked to be accountable only on the basis of quantifiable results? Jenny Hughes (2006) identifies the challenges faced by applied theatre researchers in measuring and theorising sensate experience and the notion of the unpredictable, constructed and experimental nature of cultural and social activity (2006: 2). She identifies an irony in the growing pressure for applied theatre to adopt social science research methods just as social science is looking to the arts to generate new methodologies that step inside the kind of embodied theoretical space that applied theatre has always occupied. It was, after all, the work of applied theatre practitioners, along with writers, musicians and visual artists in the community, that initially helped to lure the social scientists in. The social sciences have recognised that creative methodologies deepen the discourse. The pain-full world The space and time of pain and social disruption Returning to the idea of embodied outcomes, Jean Jackson describes a pain-full world (Jackson in Csordas 1994: 215) and Merleau-Ponty (1962) writes of pain infested space (1962: 93). Both are describing a space and time of physical, emotional or social disruption that exists in parallel to the everyday world, a space where the building blocks of the perceived world can dissolve into existential affliction and suffering. We have created just such a space in our new-millennium global world, where stalking the illusion of certainty has become an obsession, and fear and suspicion dominate. The majority of us live our real lives in parallel with, but alienated from, the golden economic era that, we are told, belongs to us. The space and time of creativity country The controlled disruption of creativity, on the other hand, is an energy-filled, joy-infested space that truly belongs to us, where the everyday world dissolves into expanded consciousness and receptivity. Both creativity and pain are experienced within the crossover space between worlds where experiences are mediated and transformed, for good or ill. Since the purpose of social policy is to mediate experience, policy-makers need to learn to use this space well. Here is where we turn to our most effective and valuable allies, the folk who have the skills to lead us in and guide us through the country of creativity (Yardley 2004). The structure of meaning given to creativity in this paper fully recognises its spatial and temporal qualities. This concept of creativity is imbued with a dimensional quality, a quality of enfolding space which envelop
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