Call Me Doctor
Well, it took the best part of ten years, but on Thursday 21 July I finally graduated Doctor of Philosophy!
I WAS DELIGHTED to be able to celebrate the occasion with my daughter Gabrielle, son Ben and his partner Danni at the Monash University ceremony. My wife Kirsty was away on an AusTrade mission to Vietnam, so we cracked open the champagne when she returned.
Culture and the Conversive Community
My thesis, ‘Culture and the Conversive Community: Framing Arts Policy for the Twenty-first Century’, questions how we might develop an egalitarian arts policy. It traces the development of the arts council movement in the twentieth century, identifying patterns that have come to define art as the product of professionals in the service of an elite, rather than an activity in which the majority participate directly. The argument is grounded in evolutionary theory, which suggests that art evolved as a collective behaviour involving shared attention and empathic connection. The thesis concludes by recommending policy changes, set in the current context of rapid social and technological change, to help redress unfairness and waste.
The thesis was passed without emendation. The examiners were asked to rate various aspects of the thesis for which they awarded a mix of ‘excellent’ and ‘outstanding’. ‘Excellent’ indicates the research is strongly competitive at international levels, while ‘Outstanding’ is reserved for theses “of the highest merit, at the forefront of international doctorates in the field. Fewer than 5% of candidates worldwide fall in this band.” The thesis was rated ‘outstanding’ for the quality of the writing and for its “substantial and original contribution to knowledge”.
I am deeply grateful to all those who have supported me during the research and writing of this thesis and particularly to by wonderful family, Kirsty, Gabrielle and Ben, and my stalwart supervisor, Robert Nelson.
Now to the important business of getting it published – the thesis is the basis of two books, the first of which is more or less ready – and taking these ideas into the world where, hopefully, they can be put to good use!