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An account of cultural policy-making in Queensland since the election of the Goss Labor government in 1989 requires revisiting the rise and fall of what Stevenson (2000) has called the ‘cultural policy moment’ in Australia.
This period, from the early 1990s to the early 2000s, was characterised by political and scholarly interest in the civic and symbolic utility of culture, and in the outcomes achieved through its management. The cultural policy moment was produced simultaneously within government, the cultural sector and the academy. Within government, it was characterised by a new and highly visible interest in managing culture and (through it) the citizenry (O'Regan 2002). Within the academy, the cultural policy project was raised by Tim Rowse in Arguing the Arts (1985) and developed by the Institute for Cultural Policy Studies at Griffith University through the work of Ian Hunter, Tony Bennett, Toby Miller, Colin Mercer, Jenny Craik, Tom O'Regan and Gay Hawkins in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Stuart Cunningham's Framing Culture (1992) focused existing debate within Australian cultural studies over the place of policy-based approaches within the discipline.
The apparent resuscitation of Queensland print and literary culture in the decade after the fall of Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen in 1987 and the National Party in 1989 can be seen to be the product of three factors: an over-statement of the dereliction of literary life in Queensland under Bjelke-Petersen, and perhaps a corresponding overstated case for its contemporary recovery; the effectiveness of government and institutional mechanisms of support; and the professional development and networking of writers and other print culture agents. Together, these factors have contributed to a transformation of the profile and scale of literary activity in Queensland and to a renegotiation of the place of Queensland literature in the national context.
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