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Academics aim to make the Gold Coast a university city with a cultural focus

The Gold Coast of the future will be better known as a University City with a cultural hub than a tourism resort famous only for beaches, bikies and theme parks.

This is the view of Dr Marcus Breen, Professor of Communication and Creative Media at Bond University who is working with colleagues at other Gold Coast tertiary institutions to draw expertise and knowledge together in a cultural research network.

Professor Breen says the concept fits perfectly with the initiatives of the Gold Coast City Council to establish a cultural precinct centred around the former Council Chambers in Surfers Paradise which aims to showcase the city's culture and creativity to the world in time for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

"The Gold Coast has three universities – Bond University, Griffith University and Southern Cross University – and a well established and highly regarded TAFE Institute with a wealth of cultural research talent," he said.

"It is our goal to bring that talent together to work collaboratively and share interests and to have constructive input into the policy making, economic decision making, public interaction and general quality of life of the Gold Coast and to create a better flow of information about cultural issues.

"We plan to establish a broad umbrella of analytical approaches from the research institutions located in the city to work out how we can work together to share interests and advance knowledge of cultural issues.

"Fundamentally we want to create recognition for the universities of the city. That we have a considerable number of highly talented and experienced individuals working in cultural research.

"We simply want to create momentum, drawing people together to share their knowledge."

Professor Breen said the Gold Coast was not normally considered a university city, but the influence of the various tertiary institutions in the area was already having a positive impact in areas such as development of cultural diversity.

"Many people say about the Gold Coast that there is no culture here, but this simply isn't true," he said.

"There is a critical mass of cultural research of an international standard being carried on here, as well as a dynamic 'popular culture' centred around community activities such as the surf sector and music.

"It is perhaps true that in the past, academics involved in the field of culture haven't worked together closely enough, but this network will redress that situation to allow the tertiary institutions to make a greater positive contribution to civil society."

The Gold Coast Cultural Researchers Network (GCCRN) will be launched at Griffith University's Gold Coast campus on 26 November.

The idea for the network originated in discussions last year between two long standing, internationally recognised cultural and media researchers - Professor Breen and Professor Andy Bennett of Griffith University and Director of the Griffith Centre for Cultural Research.

Its aims will include working with peak bodies to establish a cultural research agenda for the city, and to redefine and promote research around cultural and creative industries, such as new media, film and television, arts and performance, and music.

It will also look at establishing a locally-oriented PhD cultural research priority with goals of training a new generation of cultural researchers and thereby ensure tertiary students have expertise in cultural policy and planning, economic development.

The network will encourage State and Federal Government and private funding for cultural research in the tertiary institutions, to combine resources from Gold Coast City Council, the universities and TAFE in this field, and seek Australian Research Council funding for projects to make the most of ARC's goal of advancing Australian research and innovation globally.

"We will be seeking dedicated funding to support two PhD research projects per institution over the next three years which should enable eight PhD projects based on targeted cultural research," said Professor Breen.

"We will set up an advisory committee for the PhD projects involving council and industry partners and facilitate seminars, workshops, and public lectures for PhD students to disseminate their research.

“It is ambitious, it is necessary and it is innovative. We hope that the network can make a significant contribution to helping the Gold Coast become a university city in the near future."


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