What will we do now?

As any scientist would agree, failure is at the heart of successful innovation, indeed it provides the proof of any new empirical truth. And without innovation in any organic system there is atrophy.

In the face of the devastating effects of climate change, most recently felt in the tragic bushfires in Victoria and the global financial crisis, which impacts on everything we do or want to do, as artists and as individuals, we have choices to make. To survive and change our relationship with the world, the environment and each other – 360 degrees of innovation – or to witness and make visible the atrophy – finding and sharing our humanity and making a place to grieve as we come to the end of everything (human).

Either choice involves new approaches, new thinking and different modes of operation. Failure will be a necessary part of these explorations and experiments. The forum aims to enable a context in the Australian theatre sector in which innovation (and therefore failure) of all sorts, personal, systemic, organisational, technical and artistic can be shared and discussed so that the critical learning, research, development and unexpected outcomes that result from both innovation and failure can be better understood beyond the benchmarks enforced by our current modes of cultural production.

Western democracy and globalised capitalism are inextricably linked and responsible for the mess we’re in. And yet democracy may have the best chance of protecting and upholding human rights of any existing political system. As artists and citizens I believe we need to enliven and invigorate democratic methodologies to make them and us fit for purpose for the challenges ahead. The three day forum is structured around a day of Open Space in which the delegates determine and lead discussion on the topics they propose themselves in response to a leading question. It is one way in which we can be responsible, and it could enable many more.

Angharad Wynne-Jones
Conference curator/director
March 2009