State of the Arts: Part 2 | What is the role of arts in our society?

The arts across all mediums play an influential role in our society and have done so across the centuries. Art can shape the way we see the world, provoking new ideas and a fresh understanding of what is going on around us in regard to our socio-political climate.

On a personal level, through art we as the people feel a sense of belonging and this inspires reform and change. Art provides us with an opportunity to feel comfort and discomfort all at once – encouraging each of us to have a voice.

What do you see is the role of an artist in our society? How does art in your eyes shape our social climate? Where do you draw hope and inspiration in our current climate? In Part 1 of this discourse (see March Edition #76), we asked half a dozen female-identifying Gold Coast artists these questions, in honour of International Women’s Day. In Part 2, we present the answers from their male-identifying counterparts.

Salvadore Cantellano
Filmmaker / Creative Producer

How does art shape our social climate?

Art plays a role in shaping and reshaping cultural narratives often through a personalised response to the social climate. Some art forms are more influential than others but the impact that artists can have on social issues shouldn’t be understated. My personal take on art is grounded in responsibility and my desire to create a positive social impact. This is marked by my memories as a child riding on my father’s shoulders during protest rallies in Chile, where tens of thousands of people marching together brought down a brutal dictatorship. As I revisit those memories, I know art played an important role in communicating ‘el pueblo’ the people’s aspirations for change. The art was on the street walls, the art was in secret, the art was whispered and shared, the art had manifested as an impression to give people courage and sign the mark of change. Art can be a way to communicate our solidarity and subvert the narratives that go against our long-term interests, responding and shaping our social and cultural climate.

Glenn Barry

Where do you draw inspiration and hope from in today’s climate?

My totem is Dhinawan the male Emu (Gamilaraay Country, NSW). We don’t walk backwards. This reminds, teaches me to connect and respect my environment and recognise which of the options up my creative sleeve is appropriate to move forwards.

I am making decisions with my actions through deep listening and ways of being. I look to tune into my gut feelings. To be flexible in this NOW is when I am clear and I’m able to interpret the bigger picture. This is the foundation of immense value towards optimism and confidence in all my communications with the world around me.

Benjamin Allmon

What do you see is the role of an artist in our society?

Humans have been described as the Storytelling Ape, or perhaps that should be Story-loving Ape. All of us, regardless of our superficial differences, need stories…whether in books, films, songs, on canvas, or told around a fire. I believe the role of the artist is to deliver a good story; everything else is subordinate to that. To do that, an artist’s role is to create a story that takes others away from their reality for a while – or to share a new perspective of reality. Ultimately, a story that others can hopefully carry with them, and pass on.

Saint Lane

Where do you draw inspiration and hope from in today’s climate?

They say two zero two zero whoops outta time. So tonight, I’m gonna party like it’s 20 one nineeee!’ It’s certainly troubling that we are destroying our own home and I know I try my best to leave this world better than I found it but at the same time living in fear and worry that the world is going to end can be counterproductive too. Run in a field, swim in the ocean, enjoy what we have while it’s here, and while it’s here, try and keep it longer for the next people to enjoy.

Ben Zilla

How does art shape out social climate?

It helps people feel connected. When you fully connect with art, especially music, you’re connecting on a deep, fundamental level. It can give shape to some complex feelings and concepts we could never express in just words. It can make you feel like partying, it can rev you up, make you angry, calm you down, make you cry, it can help you fall in love. When different people are affected in the same way, that’s a shared emotion, a shared experience that can reach across a stage, or an ocean, or time. And when we connect like that, at least for a short while, we can understand each other.

Dion Parker

What do you see is the role of an artist in our society?

I believe the role of an artist in our society is to express ourselves without fear of judgment. To highlight any or all of the full spectrum of emotions we all feel – Love, joy, anger, frustration, awe etc. It doesn’t matter if the work is making a powerful statement about society or just something beautiful to behold, all great works of art evoke some kind of emotion in us. Art is a reflection of us as a race. It is unique, diverse and powerful, yet vulnerable. It will never be perfect. Just like us.

Tom Busby

Where do you draw inspiration and hope from in today’s climate?

Sometimes it feels as though our world enjoys highlighting the negatives over the positive things in life. Our current climate is crazy and confronting but the kindness that follows disaster is where I draw hope and inspiration from – Community spirit, strangers helping strangers.

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