Creativity and Curatorship: Creative Industries Policy and the Changed Face of the Curatorial Sector in Aotearoa-New Zealand
The purpose of this research was to examine the impact of the discourses of the creative industries on the the curatorial sector in Aotearoa-New Zealand. In relation to this overarching aim, I explored two associated ideas: first, the positioning and interpolation of creativity in the sector, and second, changes in the discursive constructions of both curatorial work and the concept of the visitor. My interest in this research stemmed from my observations of changes that were taking place in the curatorial sector (Alexander, 1999; Boylan, 2006; Macdonald, 2003), and the influence of creative industries discourses (Cunningham, 2003; Florida, 2002; Hartley, 2005) on the cultural agenda in Aotearoa-New Zealand (Lawn, 2006; Prince, 2010; Volkerling, 2010). My aim was to investigate the influence of creative industries discourses on museums and galleries, on curators and the nature of work in the curatorial sector, and the construction of the curatorial ‘visitor’.
To that end, my research was designed around the following three research questions: (1) What are the controlling discourses that have informed and shaped the curatorial sector in Aotearoa-New Zealand, with particular attention to the period from 1992 to 2015? (2) In what ways do online and print materials for the curatorial sector position and construct the members of the public and their ‘visitor experience’? (3) What themes emerge from workers’ lived experience with regard to creativity and the performance of curatorial work? I employed a ‘mixed-methods’ (Testa, Livingston & VanZile-Tamsen, 2011) approach for data gathering and analysis: critical discourse analysis (Fairclough, 1992), semi-structured interviewing (Fontana & Frey, 2005) and thematic analysis (Boyatzis, 1998; Braun & Clarke, 2006).
My research produced findings that show significant changes have taken place in the curatorial sector in Aoteroa-New Zealand, and that the discourses of the creative industries have become naturalised and accepted as ‘common sense’ in the management of museums and galleries, as well as in the performance of contemporary curatorial work and the construction of the visitor “experience”.