[Or: Arts, Government and the Health of our Community]

But you know she would walk to the beat of your drum
If you knew just how much you’d managed to do wrong

78 SAAB – Beat of Your Drum

For those of you who are paying attention, you’ll have noticed the ongoing moves in Australia towards more open and transpartent government.  Certainly there is a particular push from minor parties, notably the Greens in the Senate and the NSW Legislative Council (and no doubt in other states) to increase the transparency of government.

In general we’re calling this “Open Government”. One of the most logical ways to do this is to use the newer Web 2.0 technologies, and this is what’s referred to as Gov 2.0.  Personally I’m not fond of either Web 2.0 or Gov 2.0 as terms, but no one consulted me at the time.

But as we move forward with these movements, how can we tell that they’re actaully having a posative impact upon society?  How can we, to use a cliche, take the pulse of our communities?

One way that people often don’t think about is through the arts.  Given my personal and professional history, the art I’d be most inclined to use is music.  This is by no means exclusive, and this is a principle that you can try with any art that contains any currency.

The point of Art, in general, is to hold a mirror up to our society and ourselves.  If we don’t like the picture with which we are presented, then odds are we’re not happy with our society.

Musically, lets look at the 1970’s.  We saw the birth of Punk.  Looking at Brisbane as a specific example, the actions of the National’s government in that state had a major impact in the music scene of the city.  I’m not going to re-hash the stories, they’re suitable outlined by Andrew Stafford in his book Pig City (ISBN: 0702233609).  Also look at the Australian music of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, how does that demonstrate the effect of Howard’s rule?

So as we move onwards as communities, as a society, lets keep and eye on the Arts (and indeed support the Arts) as one way of looking at ourselves.

Soundtrack:
78 Saab – Beat of Your Drum
Sodastream – A Drum
Sodastream – Devil On My Shoulder
Addiction 64 – Learn to Dance
Ruck Rover – Chat Room
The Ang Fang Quartet – Anonymity

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