Communiqué – Cultural Forum Meeting 11


The eleventh National Local Government Cultural Forum was held 18 May 2018, in Melbourne. An initiative of the Cultural Development Network (CDN) with the Australia Council for the Arts, Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), its member state and territory associations and capital cities and the Commonwealth Ministry for the Arts. The Cultural Forum aims to extend the quality, understanding, reach and profile of local government’s contribution to Australia’s cultural life.

The tenth meeting of the Cultural Forum agreed to progress the following activities.

  1. Quality. A review of measurable economic outcomes that are intrinsic to engagement in cultural development activities (arts, libraries, heritage etc.) continued and will wrap up over the next few months. The economic outcomes are important measures alongside the recently defined cultural outcomes and recognises the impact that local government investment in cultural infrastructure and activities has to a local creative/cultural industry. New economic measures that are specific to cultural development will enable cultural development departments to work closely with economic development departments, with agreed and common measures.
  2. Understanding. The results of the trial collection of ‘input’ data (resources applied) and ‘output’ data (activities resulting) from across the 22 council types in Australia, for 2016-2017, returned the first data of its type to be collected at a national level. It was a limited trial and provided a first look into the range and scope of local governments activities in the cultural sector. A final report will be made to the Cultural Forum in November and available through the website and a summary will be sent to each of the participating councils.
  3. Reach. Through the first half of 2018 the development of CDN’s WhiteBox online outcomes planning platform continued with paper-based trials running in three councils and one national cultural institution. WhiteBox is designed to be a cultural activity planning and evaluation tool for councils and cultural organisations that will provide consistent planning and evaluation. Live and online trials are expected to commence in the second half of 2018. A business plan, for the future development and growth of the WhiteBox system is being prepared and will underpin the future development of initiative for its eventual use in local government and wider cultural sector.
  4. Profile. The National Local Government Cultural Forum is a six-year initiative that commenced in 2013 and will be completed at the end of 2018. The associated research and activities reported through the Cultural Forum will be reported in the final meeting later in 2018. Eventually a full report and proceedings of the National Local Government Cultural Forum over this time will be made available through the Cultural Forum webpage.

The National Local Government Cultural Forum is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body, and managed by CDN in cooperation with ALGA.