Researcher of the month
Dr Katya Johanson
First inspired by the Keating Government's Creative Nation policy document in 1994, my research is about policy-making, the arts and identity. When I began my PhD there was not much research focused on cultural policy in Australia, and the research that existed did not cast itself as part of a coherent discipline. That changed over the following three years and so part of my research involved helping to build a new discipline around the subject.
Since then, I have been working on the relationship between arts, audiences and policymaking. There has been a shift away from policies that see the arts as serving an instrumental purpose, such as increasing literacy rates or achieving health benefits, to policies that encourage what is intrinsically valuable about the arts. But for such policies to be successful, more research is needed on what is valuable about the arts. With Jennifer Radbourne and Hilary Glow, I am currently working on research in partnership with Arts Victoria on the audience's experience of live performances by six Victorian performing arts companies. There is a burgeoning interest by arts funding and policy agencies in finding new ways of assessing the achievements of the organisations they fund, and the Australia Council for the Arts has drawn on our work. We are excited about the possibilities for our work to influence future policy development. We have a forthcoming edited book on audiences with essays from audience research experts from the US, UK and Australia, to be published by Intellect in 2012.
This relationship between arts, audiences and policymaking has been the subject of smaller, more specialised projects as well, including one on Indigenous performing arts and film, and another on public art programs for children. Most of this research is published in international journals, but I am currently working on a co-authored book (with Hilary Glow) on arts programs for children, to be published by Policy Press in 2012.