Program review: Brining street into the library

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      Katherine Lee
      Participant

      The Street Culture panel discussion held at the State Library of Queensland during the Brisbane Festival was an insightful program that highlighted the ways in which this art art form allows marginalised communities to express their unique identities. The panel was chaired by Rebecca McIntosh (4ZZZ and Love TV) and comprised of Kim Bowers (aka Busty Beatz, DJ and Hot Brown Honey performer), Sammie Williams (B girl and Hot Brown Honey performer), Jess Chambers (general manager and co-owner of RAWDance) and Time and Sam (Flexn dancers).

      Robertson argues that cultural programming is “designed to elicit dialogue, discussion and consideration of ideas and issues”. She lists six elements that make a successful cultural program:

      1. The program serves an arts information need of the community
      2. Provides a showcase for arts in the local community
      3. Facilitates arts program coordination among community groups
      4. Provides a network of cultural outreach centers for the community
      5. Stimulates consideration of public issues and
      6. Provides the fundamental cultural literacy needed for experiencing the arts.

      This program met all six considerations and was an entertaining and informative event.

       

      1. The talk served the arts information needs of the community.

      Street culture is under-represented in the community as it is commonly associated with violence and gang culture. This discussion drew attention to both its artistic and political aspects and sought to dispel this misrepresentation.

      1. The talk provided a showcase for arts in the local community.

      Three members of the panel were from local groups. As they were all performing at the Brisbane Festival, the discussion doubled as an advertisement for their shows and was an effective way of promoting their work to a broader audience.

      1. The talk facilitated arts program coordination among community groups.

      By having artists from Hot Brown Honey and RAWDance, both groups which are heavily involved in promoting street culture within the community, the talk promoted ways in which street culture programs can work with institutions to foster the self-identity of marginalised members of the community.

      1. Provide a network of cultural outreach centers for the community.

      The library was successful in doing this, although, ironically, street culture needs to be allowed the freedom to move out of formal, controlled spaces and into the street.

      1. Stimulated consideration of public issues.

      This talk definitely stimulated consideration of public issues. I had not been aware that there was a large street culture in Australia. The talk made me realise that we don’t have one, not due to a lack of interest from performers, but due to our strict laws that only allow creative self-expression in formal settings.

      1. Provided the fundamental cultural literacy needed for experiencing the arts.

      I now have a much better understanding of what street culture is both as an art form and political statement. From the energy in the room and the discussion with the audience at the end of the panel talk, I think that rest of the audience do too.

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