The creative convener 

Adrian Walter, convener of CDU's September symposium, Creative Citizenship: Community, Creative Industries and the Future

What exactly is creative citizenship? Basically it means becoming involved in the creative life of your community. There will be the chance to find out more when Charles Darwin University (CDU) holds its free Creative Citizenship symposium in Alice Springs in late September.

Symposium convener Adrian Walter, CDU’s dean of law, business and the arts, said that everyone has the potential to become a creative citizen.

“We’ll be looking at the role of creativity in communities, whether it be joining a musical group or using new technologies such as blogging on the internet to put forward a point of view,” says Mr Walter.

”Joining a music group is a classic example of community involvement,” he adds. “No one should doubt the power of music to become a huge bonding force within a community.”

But Mr Walter points out that with modern technology there is a stream of new communication tools that challenge traditional notions of what it means to be creative. The symposium will explore such questions as the nature of creativity, the blossoming of the creative industries and how communities can interact on a creative level.

”Creativity now has a much broader mandate than just the arts, particularly in the digital era,” says Mr Walter. “For example a student blogging on the internet could be said to be involved in a creative activity, while visual artists who use the Net or create digital art are giving a whole new dimension to the notion of creativity.

“We’re having to rethink definitions of what it means to be creative, and there is a growing imperative that more traditional art forms must engage with a new set of creativities.”

In his search for symposium speakers who are at the cutting edge of these challenges Mr Walter has taken a broad and flexible approach to the notions of creativity and community involvement.

One of the key speakers will be Eddie Berg, who used to run an arts and technology centre in Liverpool, England, that has become a benchmark for new ways to encourage local people into the arts. Mr Berg is the founder of FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), now regarded as Britain’s leading centre for film, video and new media.

Another key speaker is Professor Malcolm Gillies, who besides being a distinguished Australian academic, is an expert on the music of the very innovative composer Percy Grainger and Bela Bartok.

The symposium will not, however, be limited to academic discussion about the meaning of the arts and how to cope with new technologies as the pace of the 21st century heats up. There will be panel discussions with more traditional artists, as well as those who have found new means of creative expression through the latest technologies.

As convener of the symposium, Mr Walter is also a creative artist from a more traditional field who has witnessed the advancement of new technology in the music industry. Mr Walter trained as a classical guitarist, and has given concerts around the world, in more recent years in Italy. He is also organiser of the biennial Darwin International Guitar Festival.

During the symposium he will put the case for the ‘community musician’. Mr Walter admits that some of the new fields of music and the visual arts, for example, have a long way to go before people embrace their validity. But he expects that the symposium will illuminate many of the issues that now confront anyone who wants to understand how creativity is being challenged and changed on a number of fronts.

”There will be a philosophical underpinning to the symposium,” says Mr Walter. “We acknowledge that some people will not accept the idea that a 15-year-old at home interacting on the Net is involved in some kind of creative activity. But I can see that in years to come our ideas of creativity and community involvement will have changed.”

Registrations are now open from members of the public for the September 27-28 Symposium, Creative Citizenship: Community, Creative Industries and the Future at the Araluen Centre in Alice Springs. Registration is free.

For more information or to register log onto or email or telephone 08 8946 6529.