I attended a Manatū Taonga Ministry of Culture and Heritage consult involving regional arts people – the Ministry is preparing to brief the government as to cultural policy for the future. They are a government agency who listen and there proved to be a great clarity to the discussion.

On the one hand there were two of us oldies taking the line that art and culture is about presence and community story telling, that a previous structure of community arts officers and local and regional arts councils with secure and modest funding administered locally had done a great job and that a return to that structure is required.

On the other hand, the diverse group of younger people talked of the hope lying in the digital sphere and entrepreneurialism and start ups and marketing and international networking – the creative industry model first introduced by Helen Clark’s government. In their view the regions can attract trend setters, game developers and the like and a brave new world is possible culturally. The diversity people tended to be in this camp for there are business partnerships possible with the corporations as they are open to LGTBQIA2S… washing (it does become more complex on a daily basis).

In response I could talk about the rate of failure in Silicon Valley, the home of startups and the trend of start up entrepreneurs attracting venture capital, buying a house and car, then filing for bankruptcy – you can keep your house and car of course.  And successful startups are always bought up by the global giants.

And then there were the in betweeners, preparing surveys and reports for councils and the like, office holders really, wordsmiths for marginal bureaucracies, attracted perhaps to the radical notion of an artist’s wage if they begin dreaming.

As us two oldies tended to hold the floor, for there are a lack of stories in the other camps and the chief entrepreneurial spokesperson having left – too busy to spend too long on this – I realised the silencing and self censorshp that has taken place with regard to the judging of the failed experiments of neo-liberalism in so many areas of society and the continuing difficulty of picking up the pieces, for often the basic structure has been destroyed and we are left with a creeping parasite.