Griffith University’s Shanene Ditton has firm ideas about the Gold Coast’s evolving cultural identity.That’s why she regards the Gold Coast City Council’s Draft Culture Strategy 2013-23 ascrucial to the city’s future.

The strategy will be the focus of a free public symposium to be staged at rabbit + cocoon creative arts precinct at Miami on Sunday, July 28.

“As influential as the message of “sun, sand, surf and sex” has been for the Gold Coast over many years, there is enormous value in adding cultural dimensions and broadening perspectives,” said Ms Ditton, a PhD student in the School of Humanities and an affiliate member of the Griffith Centre for Cultural Research.

“One proven way to enhance a city’s identity, growth and respect is by acknowledging and preserving cultural heritage and committing to the cultural future.”

Ms Ditton said the evolution and expansion of the Gold Coast’s cultural identity would need civic support in the form of infrastructure and resources.

To that end, the city council’s Draft Culture Strategy has proposed four major transformational outcomes over the next decade: a culture that is distinctly Gold Coast; a place where culture is everyday; a community that values its cultural heritage; and a city where creativity creates opportunity.

Within these goals are 20 key actions aimed at recognising how culture contributes to defining a city and its people, creating a sense of belonging and ownership and driving social and economic growth.

The July 28 symposium, Shaping Our Culture Strategy, is the second to be organised by The Sold Coast Project, an initiative created by Ms Ditton to promote robust debate on Gold Coast issues. The city council is a partner in the event.

“This will be a provocation on the Draft Culture Strategy with the aim of interrogating it fully, offering qualitative feedback to the council and playing a role in shaping policy,” Ms Ditton said.

The event will feature six major discussion “provocateurs”, namely developer and Sunland Group founder Soheil Abedian, Griffith University’s Professor Stephen Stockwell (Journalism and Communications), surfing writer Tim Baker, rabbit + cocoon’s Mariam Arcilla, filmmaker Jeff Licence and artist and curator Mandana Mapar.

“Culture is about people and about valuing their lived experience. It celebrates the past and ensures its importance is articulated for today,” Ms Ditton said.

“In creating a richer sense of place, culture also nurtures a deeper sense of belonging among people.”

WHAT: Shaping Our Culture Strategy, a free public symposium

WHERE: rabbit + cocoon creative arts precinct, 23 Hillcrest Parade, Miami

WHEN: Sunday, July 28, 2-5pm.

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