The arts, education and the politics of multiculturalism
The past two years have witnessed numerous initiatives designed to develop policies that seek to institutionalise the notion of arts for a multicultural Australia. The most comprehensive of these has been the joint initiative of the Office of Multicultural Affairs (1993) and the Australia Council for the Arts to develop a policy framework, titled The Big Picture . It provides a set of principles and strategies to enable the creative talents in the ethnic communities to be identified, informed, developed and promoted. The framework rests on the belief that cultural production in Australia needs to reflect the nation’s cultural diversity and dynamism. It problematises the notion of Australian identity, and argues for the need ‘to extend and enliven the Australian cultural world, by promoting and supporting broader aesthetic perceptions and practices’. To achieve this, the framework underlines the importance of education. It highlights, among other things, the role of schools in promoting critical awareness of the heterogeneity of artistic traditions, and in challenging narrowly defined conceptions of identity and culture.