The Generations Project 2006-2009

The Generations project commenced in 2006 to explore links between engagement in community based arts activities and active civic engagement. There is growing literature that supports the link between creative or ‘artistic’ activity and improved health and well-being, but the links between creative communities and civic engagement are less well documented. The Generations project was conceptualised to contribute to research on this topic through a significant research component. It was thought that demonstration of this link could have significant effects on the development of public policy and the targeting of resources to community-based arts projects. The research proejct was carried out by Dr Martin Mulligan with researcher Pia Smith at Globalism Research Centre (RMIT) over the three years of the project.

In preparation for the project, each of the five participating councils worked with the Cultural Development Network to identify issues of serious concern for their municipalities. Five community projects addressing these local issues got underway in 2006 in councils across Australia; Charters Towers Regional Council (Queensland); City of Liverpool (New South Wales); Rural City of Wangaratta (Victoria); City of Greater Geelong (Victoria); and Latrobe City (Victoria). The projects completed their formal engagement with Generations in late 2009.

The work of the five councils and the communities was celebrated with a national conference held in Melbourne in September 2009.
Proceedings from the conference are available here.

The findings of the research project were published in 2010:

Art, Governance and the Turn to Community: Putting Art at the Heart of Local Government:
A report to Australia Council for the Arts on research on the Generations Project 2006—2009

Martin Mulligan and Pia Smith, Globalism Research Centre

Other articles about the project:

Breaking Down the Barriers - from tribe to community
Gott, J. (2012) Local Government Managers Australia, April/May, p. 15
James Gott, CEO of Charters Towers Regional Council reflects on outcomes of 'Generations' arts and civic engagement project

The Concept and Early Beginnings of the Generations Project
Researcher Pia Smith speaks with Judy Spokes, Co-ordinator of the Generations Project 2004-2005.

Art, Governance and the Turn to Community: Putting Art at the Heart of Local Government
Preliminary findings and an extensive literature review from the project.
Dr. Martin Mulligan and Pia Smith, RMIT University

Excellence in Civic Engagement: the Australia Council's perspective on the Generations project
Keynote presentation by Kathy Keele, CEO, Australia Council, at the ReGenerating Conference

Councils Put Value on Community Art
Article about the Generations project by Rob O'Brien in Inside Local Government magazine, July 2009, pp. 26-27

The Generations Project was a test of the view that truly sustainable communities need the addition of fourth dimension, or pillar, of cultural vitality to the accepted triple bottom line indicators of a viable economy, a healthy environment and good social policies.