Art and Working Life


Art and Working Life

Level 1 Gallery
Ian Potter Museum of Art

Parkville campus

Swanston Street

Booking not required

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Ian Potter Museum of Art

Art and Working Life was a joint funding initiative between the Australia Council for the Arts and the Australian Council of Trade Unions. During its tenure it funded and promoted the creation of cultural activities by artists, art workers and unions in and out of the workplace. As Ian Burn and Kathy Muir wrote in 1992, the program aimed to ‘encourage art practice and policy, informed by the concerns and issues affecting workers own lives and acknowledges working class cultural traditions and the multicultural nature of those traditions.’ Terminated in 1986, it has an ambivalent legacy: some criticised it for catering too much to the desire of artists and the ‘values of the art world’, while others saw it as an instrumentalisation of art for political aims.

This panel focuses on the historical legacy and contemporary relevance of the Art and Working Life program. Bringing together voices of some of the key stakeholders at the time and two inheriting voices, the import of the program, for both the institutions of art world and the labour movement of today, will be discussed.

Presented in partnership with 1856 a program of exhibitions and events presented across sites within and around The Victorian Trades Hall. The State of the Union panel series is supported by the City of Melbourne Arts Grants Program.

Image: Art and Working Life slide-kit, Slide 1 (Title Slide) 1986, Courtesy Union Media Services.

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