Tuesday, 5 August 2014

MEDIA RELEASE: Tasmanian Musingplaces

  AUGUST 5 2014
As an outcome of several years of research into museums’, art galleries’ and other musingplaces’ Communities of Ownership & Interest (COI) the nudgelbah institute has just released a discussion paper entitled 'Tasmanian Musingplaces'.  

The paper essentially presents a case for the formal regularisation and accreditation of musingplaces in Tasmania and there is a boast that there is currently something in the order of 140 musingplaces in the State. 

Only one could be realistically regarded as being formally accredited to lend substance to the social licence musingplaces operate under. 

The institute’s Director, Ray Norman, said today “it is interesting to see that ‘musingplaces’ in Tasmania are so unevenly accountable to their communities.” 

 “In some cases it could be argued that they are less accountable for the public funds they depend upon than say incorporated artist-run-initiatives seeking, and winning, public funding,” he said. 

In Tasmania, sporting groups, historic societies, indeed clubs and societies of all kinds are generally incorporated under Associations Incorporation Act to provide their members with legal protection.

Incorporation also protects the public as upon incorporation these groups become accountable to government and consequently operate in accord with the Act or are wound up. 

Ray Norman said ”currently there are processes in train to investigate the accreditation of museums nationally on a state by state basis.” 

“This process appears to be focused on the self-regulation of the museology profession more than it may have legal status or offer any public protection” he said. 

“Furthermore it appears to be making slow progress and not looking towards legal standing as a background for new funding options and paradigms.” He said. 

The institute is advocating that musingplaces proactively engage with their Communities of Ownership and Interest to ensure inclusive and 21st C innovative, accountable, entrepreneurial and sustainable musingplace operations with appropriate legal standing. 

The institute is well aware that the outcome of accreditation is unlikely to be achievable quickly. Nonetheless, a structured three to five year timeframe with the active participation of the various musingplaces and their Communities of Ownership and Interest has the potential to deliver more sustainable outcomes for musingplaces in Tasmania. 

Moreover, it is now 64 years since the Tasmanian Government considered the place museums hold in Tasmanian society, and the Tasmanian imagination, and it is timely that the matter be revisited given the passage of time and the cultural and social change that is now evident in Tasmanian society.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Funding Musingplaces in the 21st Century

The Australian Bureau of Statistics tells us that in musingplaces in 2003-04, Australians spent about $61 million on art gallery and museum fees and charges. The total income for art museums in 2007-08 was $396 million. Government funding provided $257.5 million of income. The remainder consisted of $19.6 million from admissions; $65.3 million from fundraising; and $53.6 million from other sources.  Make of that what you will.

In a way, that was another time, and what is more, it is looking back to a time of presumed 'entitlement' for musingplaces. Arguably, besides relying upon ‘tax dollars’ musingplaces need to ‘learn to earn’. Indeed the Australian Museum in Sydney reports that it earns something in the order of 30% of its recurrent budget – but its trying to learn how to earn more. The mid 2000s was a time when institutions could, and did, argue that their institution were there for the public good. They could trot out the statistics to demonstrate it but the pendulum has swung the other way to the outermost stretch of its arc. 

In small to larger towns and cities throughout Australia one way or another their Local Govts support a local art gallery and/or a museum. Typically, the funding will come from Local Govt's consolidated revenue, as a percentage typically, given that the amounts are typically modest.  For Federal and State Govts, if these musingplaces are lucky, they might win State or Federal funding. If State or Federal funding is sought and won usually it would be for a one-off project or capital funding for infrastructure. If it's near election time success is more likely. It’s a time honored but dysfunctional process. 

Typically in Local Govt areas there are separate levies for water, sewerage, waste management, sometimes ambulance and other times for some aspirational amenity like curbing & guttering. Cultural development usually runs a poor second or third or fourth in the ‘nice to have’ money bucket. 

People pay Local Govt. rates because they are levied and they are obliged to pay them and because if they do not, Councils have the power to confiscate their property or impose some other unavoidable penalty. When accountability becomes an issue it’s because the outcomes do not match the inputs. When people are paying for a service they believe they are not receiving, or even think that they are not getting, there’ll be disquiet. That's what accountability is all about, and all things being equal, it gets resolved at election time - otherwise the need to build better robots grows expdedentialy

Openness and transparency is also to do with engagement and the marketing of service provision. If communities know what they are contributing towards the services they want, and they know by what means, they are more likely to become both engaged and cooperative. In the end the purpose of a community musingplace is largely to do with engaging with ‘the community’ towards making sense of the world and hopefully better sense – or any other random purpose an individual may be engaged with via a musingplace. Rather than the typical levy/tax and forget method of fundraising it might be interesting to establish a model that allows rate and tax payers became ‘overt investors in musing’. For example they could say: 
  1. Be levied their standard investment annually; and 
  2. Annually each household/business paying the levy/rate could be eligible to be in the draw for say a $100K payout out of a $4million pool;
  3. As for the $100,000, well it would come out of the musingplace’s operating budget as a cost against the contributor’s inputs – rather investments – like the lighting bill – it would be the cost of the money
This way the investment would carry the chance of three kinds of dividend – social, cultural & fiscal. Such a dividend, it’d be a fiscal dividend to consider alongside the social and cultural dividends the institution was established to provide via the investment provided by the levy. Moreover, all the dividends together would be underpinning the musingplace's Community of Ownership & Interest that in turn would be 'the crowd' that Crowdfunding relies so heavily upon.

Yes the institution would probably need to generate the $100K of additional income from other sources. Then it would arguably be a case of "welcome to the real world"and more importantly the world of entrepreneurship! Clearly there is a gambling cum risk element in all this but that is as it is with entrepreneurship . In the end, you actually need to break few eggs in order to make an omelette. 

However, it might be noted that the suggestion here would also allow investors (levy payers) to sell their ‘investment bond’ to almost anyone or give it to almost anyone – family members, lovers, et al. This would allow them to recover their original investment if needed recovering an unwelcomed investment – if that’s how they see it. If the investment is totally worthless why make it?

There is case to be put, that State and Local Govts. should be facilitating the funding of all regional musingplaces on the premise that their collections are the cultural property of 'the State' and by extension 'the Nation' – Federal funding being emergency funding and infrastructure based. The question that arises in places like Tasmania “out of which bucket of money”? It could be 'The Gambling Bucket' but its more likely to be an admix of various funding sources with Crowdfunding likely to be an increasingly important component. The nudgelbah institute is advocating that musingplace be re-imagined and ideally undergo a root and branch revision in Tasmania given their contribution to cultural tourism – actual & potential – and community cultural development. 

In a way the Sydney Opera House Lottery could be seen as being Crowdfuning in a kind of way. There are other lottery arts funding models too. It worked for the Sydney Opera House, why not in Tasmania? In fact its already working at MONA if you actually think about it. IF cultural tourism, cultural development and the local outcomes that musingplaces can deliver – directly & indirectly – are valued some serious consideration needs to be given to new funding paradigms for musingplaces. 

Clearly the status quo, on the evidence, is hardly likely to be sustainable in the long-term. That is mostly because it has to do with the mysterious process of tickling money trees.

Thursday, 17 July 2014


Tasmania is home to a largely untapped cultural resource, its musingplaces -- its public heritage and cultural collections, museums, art galleries, historic houses, gardens and parklands and more generally its cultural landscapes and natural environments. 

Noticeably, all the public institutions are under administrations and managements that have variable interconnectedness, limited marketing strategies and uneven functionality as 21st C musingplaces.

Recent research at the nudgelbah Institute suggests that Tasmania's musingplaces have huge potential to deliver spectacular cultural, social and fiscal dividends – directly and indirectly and via tourism if these musingplaces were to be networked

The Director of the nudgelbah Institute, Ray Norman [1], commented, "Tasmania's musingplaces have the potential to be networked and operated cooperatively and collaboratively in a Tasmanian cultural tourism context." [7]

"​Tasmania’s musingplaces, and the stories embedded in them, and their collections, offer extraordinary research opportunities for cultural researchers," Ray observed.  “Of considerable interest are the Communities of Ownership and Interest (COI) [2][3] attached to these places." He said.

Just posing the question, "Does place determine culture or does culture define placedness?", opens the possibilities for a treasure trove of Tasmanian stories coming to light and life – thus adding value to musingplaces.

Tasmania shares many characteristics with Scotland. 2014 is Scotland's Homecoming Year [4]. Prof. Bill Boyd [5], the nudgelbah Institute's  Research Coordinator, is currently on his way to Scotland to research ‘Scottish placedness’. 

Professor Boyd commented: "I will be exploring my research interests in the diversity of Scottish musingplaces and re-exploring 'home' in the context of my cultural identity research."[8]

"Scotland is an great example of where ‘placedness’ [6] is enthusiastically celebrated," Professor Boyd said. "There are members of Scottish Communities of Ownership and Interest sprinkled all over the world." 

Cultural tourism accounts for the most significant part of Scotland’s tourism.

The nudgelbah Institute believes that Tasmania could learn from Scotland, and how it is using its musingplaces to develop its cultural assets in ways that contribute to local cultural development and tourism in tandem.

However, Tasmania has an advantage in that there are incentives now to: 

  1. Network the governance, management and marketing of the State’s musingplaces in innovative 21st C ways – and especially so via digital technologies;
  2. Develop and adopt networked but standalone entrepreneurial operational model/s for Tasmanian musingplaces; 
  3. Proactively engage with Communities of Ownership and Interest to ensure inclusive and 21st C style innovative entrepreneurial programming is developed and adopted; and
  4. Do so over a structured three to five year timeframe with the active participation of the various musingplaces' Communities of Ownership and Interest.
–––– END ––––

  • eMAIL: Ray Norman – raynorman@eftel.net.au 
  • eMAIL: Prof. Bill Boyd – William.Boyd@scu.edu.au – Currently on fieldwork, Scotland & Europe
  • Click Here: Discussion regarding Communities of Ownership & Interest
  • Click Here: A series of discussions to do with networking musingplaces
  • Click on the Hyperlinks above and indicated thus [number]

Placescape, Placemaking, Placemarking, Placedness ... Geography & Cultural Production


Placescape, placemaking, placemarking, placedness … geography and cultural production

No.11, 2013
ISSN 1988-594


            1.  Southern Cross University, Australia
            2.  zingHOUSEunlimited, Australia


................... by Bill Boyd and Ray Norman                                  1 - 18

................... by Anna Blagrove                                                   19 - 24

................... by Jytte Holmqvist                                                  25 - 35

................... by Anna Dorrington                                               36 - 44

................... by Stephen Copland                                               45 - 53

................... by Seth Keen                                                         54 - 59

................... by Rob Garbutt and Moya Costello                         60 - 76

................... by Darren Jorgensen                                               77 - 84

................... by Marsha Berry                                                    85 - 96

................... by Bill Boyd                                                          97 - 113

................... by Terri Merlyn                                                    114 - 117

................... by Janie Conway Herron                                       118 - 130

................... by Robert Horne                                                  131 - 147

................... by Tom Drahos                                                    148 - 161

................... by Tom Drahos                                                    162 - 176

................... by Tessa Chudy                                                    177 - 186

................... by Bill Boyd, Denise Rall, Peter Ashley, Wendy Laird and David Lloyd                                                         ................... 187 - 204

................... by Britta Kuhlenbeck                                            205 - 226

................... by Emily Bullock                                                  227 - 239

................... by Ray Norman                                                    240 - 265

................... by Mary Gardiner                                                 266 - 279

................... by Ray Norman                                                    280 - 295

................... by Terrence Wright                                                   296 - 304

................... by Sally Brown, Ray Norman and Bill Boyd          305 - 314

................... by Margaret Trail                                                 315 - 322

This Special Issue of Coolabah is supported by two websites containing further material to complement the papers:
TEXTsite: Click Here  IMAGEsite: Click Here

The following people are thanked for their contribution in reviewing the manuscripts.
  • Marsha Berry, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia
  • Anna Blagrove, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom
  • Emily Bullock, University of Tasmania, Australia
  • Tessa Chudy, Southern Cross University, Australia
  • Janie Conway Heron, Southern Cross University, Australia
  • Stephen Copeland, Independent Artist
  • Moya Costello, Southern Cross University, Australia
  • Anna Dorrington, independent artist
  • Tom Drahos, Flinders University, Australia
  • Rob Garbutt, Southern Cross University, Australia
  • Jane Gardiner, Cultural Heritage Adviser
  • Mary Gardner, Southern Cross University, Australia
  • Jytte Holmqvest, Melbourne University, Australia
  • Rob Horne, University of Adelaide, Australia
  • Darren Jorgensen, University of Western Australia, Australia
  • Britta Kuhlenbeck, South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council, Australia
  • David Lloyd, Southern Cross University, Australia
  • Teri Merlyn, Independent Writer
  • Maarten Renes, University of Barcelona, Spain
  • John Smith, Southern Cross University, Australia
  • Margaret Trail, Victoria University, Australia

Wednesday, 29 August 2012



COOLABAH Vol 11 now online ... CLICK HERE 
 Placescape, placemaking, placemarking, placedness … geography and cultural production
You are invited to contribute papers - empirical studies, discursive essays, commentary, case studies or creative works - for publication in a special issue of the journal Coolabah, the  journal of the Observatori: Centre d' Estudis Australians, the Australian Studies Centre, at the Universitat de Barcelona.
This electronic journal provides an international forum for original research in the field of Australian Studies, drawing on interdisciplinary content. It especially welcomes papers that examine the world from cultural perspectives. This special issue seeks papers that examine the relationships between place/landscape – both Australian places/landscapes themselves, and Australian perspectives of place/landscape - and cultural production.
We seek papers engaging sense of place and landscape - either Australian places/landscapes themselves, or Australian perspectives of place/landscape - through acts of cultural production.

  •  Topics could include reflections on the role of the visual, performing, written or electronic arts in visualising, exploring or creating sense of place or place meaning, attachment or marking.      
  • Papers exploring the influence of geography and place on the creative arts and cultural production, and the cultural expression of place, are welcomed.    
  • Papers may be text based, strongly visual, or combined.     
  • Creative works will be welcomed.     
  • Papers containing links to web-based resources will also be welcomed; this may allow digital imagery and video material, for example, to be interfaced with the texts.

The special issue is edited by Bill Boyd and Ray Norman. Bill is the Professor of Geography at Southern Cross University, and researches place, environment and landscape from a range of perspectives –  biophysical through to cultural.

Ray is a Tasmanian-based artist, blogger, researcher, community networker and cultural jammer, with a background in studio jewellery and metalsmithing. Ray has been involved in the initiation of speculative community placemaking-cum-placemarking projects through interventionist cultural production.

They can be contacted for further information at  william.boyd@scu.edu.au and raynorman@eftel.net.au Proposals for papers or manuscripts for submission should be sent to Bill at  william.boyd@scu.edu.au

Manuscripts should be in plain text format with a minimum of formatting. Graphics may be embedded in the manuscripts or submitted separately. Since Coolabah is an electronic journal, colour images are acceptable and encouraged. All papers should be in English. Structure (organisation and flow of ideas, headings, referencing, etc.) should be  appropriate to the discipline from which you are writing. The journal can take long papers (greater than 5,000 words), but papers may, especially given the potential role for visual content, be relatively short. All material will be peer reviewed by the special issue editors, and the journal retains the right for further peer review.

   Manuscripts should be submitted by November 16th 2012.
  The plan is to publish this collection in early 2013.  

  a research network dedicated to developing more inclusive 21st C 
understandings & imaginings of place

Prof. Bill Boyd: Review Editor
Ray Norman : Project Coordinator (Tasmania)

Saturday, 24 September 2011

[Tasmaniana Musing] The Ponrabbel

The Ponrabbel operated as a steam 'bucket dredge' in the Tamar River from the 1920s until the 1960s. The Port of Launceston authority was determined that as many ships as possible should berth at wharves close to the city centre. Attempts to move the port further down the river were vigorously resisted as Launcestonians imagined their city as a port – and sometimes as an alternative 'capital'.

It is no accident that the memory of this dredge lives on in the memories and imaginations of so many Launcestonians as the silting of the Tamar persists – and is likely to continue to do so as the estuary is ever likely to continue to silt up. Indeed, the Tamar's silting is a contentious political football that is being flicked between Local, State and Federal Governments against various political backdrops – particularly at election time.

"The Tamar Estuary is a drowned valley formed during a faulting event during the Tertiary period. Tectonic, volcanic and glacial activities have helped shape the Tamar Valley into that which we see today. The Estuary receives three major river systems: the South Esk; the North Esk; and the Meander. These three main catchments form a large drainage basin, which covers approximately 18% of Tasmania's land mass."Parks & Wildlife Service Tasmania – Given the estuary's geography there is little wonder that at the confluence of the Nth & Sth Esk Rivers there might be be silting albeit exasperated by the postcolonial agricultural and forestry exploitation of the Tamar's catchments.

The Ponrabbel was used to dredge the channel near Launceston to facilitate shipping access. As larger ships were brought into the Tamar some strategic rocks in the Tamar were blasted and removed by the Ponrabbel to improve navigation. She was also used in the building of the Bell Bay berthing facilities. Albeit that commercial shipping barely persists in the upper reaches of the Tamar, the silting of the estuary 'interferes' with the waterway's aesthetics and its recreational 'utility' – and is thus seen as tourism detractor and simultaneously as evidence of environmental degradation.

The area around the Tamar Estuary was a placescape occupied by various bands of Aboriginal people, who were later called 'The Northern Midlands Tribe' by the Europeans who had moved into the valley and taken the Aborigines' land. According to contemporary 'authorities', the estuary itself was known by the Aborigines as "kun.er.mur.luk.er", or ["ponrabbel"]. Port Dalrymple was recorded as being called "lor.er.nul.ray.tit.te.yer" and the Port Dalrymple bands known as the "le.ter.re.mair.re.ner" and "py.he.mair.re.me.ner" people – Parks & Wildlife Service Tasmania

In a contemporary context the underlying assumptions attached to the Tasmanian Aboriginal people's 'languages' , and their use in place naming, may be contested in a linguistic and cultural context given the paucity of anthropology and linguistics of the colonial era when Aboriginal vocabularies were collected. Meanings can be found in context and given that the 'palawa' people's cultural realities and belief systems were looked at from the 'perspective of clonisation' 'ponrabbel's palawa' meaning/s is open to contention.

Ships Specifications
  • Type of Vessel: TS Bucket Dredge.
  • Date Built: 1916.
  • Builder: Ferguson Bros. Ltd., Glasgow.
  • Dead Weight: 457 tons.
  • Length: 155ft 3in.
  • Breadth: 34ft 2in.
  • Owner: Marine Board of Launceston, Tasmania.
  • Engines: 2 X 2 cyl 15in & 30in X 21in.
  • Engine Builder: Ferguson Bros Ltd., Glasgow.
The Ponrabbel was built under the supervision of surveyors in accordance with the rules and regulations of Lloyd's Registry of Shipping.

Further Information: Low Head Pilot Station Museum ... CLICK HERE

Compiled by Ray Norman, Launceston

Saturday, 17 September 2011


Watch a space revealed as a place with a full load of CULTURALcargo