Festival Rationale

(see also Ken Unsworth's speech at the Festival opening)


The Online Australia Cultural Festival was launched on November 26, 1999, Online Australia Day. It operated online until June 2001 when the site became an online index of arts organisations. Below is the text from the original exhibition launch.

"The Online Australia Cultural Festival, launched on is an exhibition of Australian online cultural expression and aims to attract a wider audience for Australian arts and culture online."

The Online Festival grew out of Project One, an online arts and culture workshop held in Sydney on the 25th May 1999 as part of Online Australia Year, a commonwealth government initiative coordinated by the National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE). Three main issues presented themselves at the workshop: how to connect with the new online audiences; how to best present arts and culture online; and the fragmented nature of the multitude of online strategies of Australian arts and cultural organisations, government support bodies and the many others who promote, support and exhibit arts and culture.

The Online Cultural Festival was proposed as a way to bring together - in one virtual space - an example of the wealth of Australian creative work on the web and the many organisations supporting the development and exhibition of such work. This support of course begins very much in the physical realm, in the day-to-day issues of providing the infrastructure for the arts community and arts audiences alike. But with the changes in digital media production and distribution technologies this support now also extends beyond the geographical boundaries of those institutions and onto the global web.

The Festival offers a model of Australian cultural and arts institutions working together online, making use of the web's networking and promotional potentials. It also offers a wide range of the strategies artists are using online in working with and, sometimes against, new technologies and the rapid pace of change and their effect on our lives.

The Festival was created with the aim of improving the visitor's current experience of online exhibitions, sometimes a confusing and frustrating experience on the web. This was effected by making the Exhibitions resident, as far as possible, on one fast internet server to give a "sense of place" to those visiting the Exhibition website. The visitor can then wander around the Exhibitions without getting lost on the web, and with a similar access experience (access or download times, the Exhibition navigation bar "framing" the Exhibits, etc.) for each Exhibition visited.

All the exhibitions in the Festival are exemplary of their different fields and varied objectives, and all work toward overcoming the necessary limitations of these early days of the web and digital media, and of variable budgets and resources. It is best, as always, that they speak for themselves and that the audience be the judge.

Exhibitions in the Festival are taken from the online work of the participants and were in some cases specially made for the Festival, abstracted from past and current exhibitions and events, some are joint submissions, and all vary in direction and depth.

We would like to thank the Festival Exhibitors and especially the commissioning body, Online Australia, for their support in the first year of what we hope will become an annual online event.

Our Reference Group has been of great assistance and their views also inform the rationale and the future directions of this event. We hope you enjoy the Online Australia Cultural Festival, and having seen what is available on the web in abstract - "on loan", as it were - take the time to visit and more fully engage with the Festival participants' home websites, and the expanding new worlds of culture online and online culture, sometime soon.

Festival production team at 3V:  
 Jeffrey Cook, 3V  Sharon Pink, 3V
 Michele de Bes, Run Designs  Mark Evans, MetaForm

Thanks also to: NOIE, all contributors, Brendan Harkin, Morag White and Push Productions, and Mark Rodger and the staff at Orange Telecommunications.

All Exhibition sites and their contents are copyright 1999/2001 to the participating Exhibitors and contributing artists. All rights reserved.