Arts Participation :Key to a Healthier City

Presented by Hugh Mackay
8 November, 2008

Why you should listen

Hugh Mackay

Hugh Mackay is one of Australia’s most highly regarded social researchers. In this Sydney Ideas lecture, Mackay turns his attention to arts funding and how active involvement in the arts can build a healthier city. Although Mackay is a strong supporter of increased arts funding, the Sydney-based psychologist argues that it’s time to take a closer look at the perceived benefits of being exposed to the arts and whether or not public money could be better spent differently – namely, to support doing it, rather than watching it. “The greatest public value of the arts is through public participation,” says Mackay. “The most intense benefits of the arts flows from creating and performing rather than watching.” According to Mackay the magic of participating in the arts – joining a local theatre group or choir, taking painting lessons – will have a flow-on effect that will benefit a whole city. “What better way of fostering a sense of community… and reducing the pressures of a competitive, materialist society than encouraging widespread participation in the arts,” says Mackay. Hugh Mackay is a prominent social commentator and author who has made a lifelong study of the attitudes and behaviour of Australians. He is the author of 11 books, including five bestsellers in the field of social analysis, and four novels. His latest, Advance Australia…Where? (Hachette Australia) was published in 2007. Mackay has been awarded honorary doctorates by Charles Sturt, Macquarie and NSW universities and is a fellow of the Australian Psychological Society. In 2004, he received the University of Sydney’s Alumni Award for community service.

“Hugh Mackay is one of this country’s most perceptive social commentators”The Sydney Morning Herald, 2007