Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Arts versus Creative Industries?

Marcus Westbury has a discussion in The Age about whether the perceived conflict between "arts for art's sake" and "creative industries" is overstated (link to Marcus's blog, as this doesn't appear to be on The Age online site). I include his discussion below.

One point I would make is that the idea that "the industries will take care of themselves" seems odd to me from a policy point of view. It avoids the question of what policy settings enable cultural production to take place in Australia, particularly in the higher risk and more capital-intensive sectors such as film and television.

We wouldn't assume that the existence of a lot of car enthusiasts give you a car industry, so are we being too nonchalant in assuming that the energy of artists gives you an arts industry. I'd agree with his points about the cultural - and economic - signifgicance of "design, architecture, contemporary music, mass media, digital media and video games".


SHOULD governments fund the arts “for art’s sake”, or should they be developing “creative industries”? It may seem like an abstract philosophical argument but at stake in this heated debate are the reasons why, how and even whether governments fund and support art and culture.

The two camps at times have much in common. They can and do form workable alliances but discussions can degenerate into the kind of hostility that student communists reserve for splinter groups that are less ideologically pure.

Historically, governments funded and promoted the arts for reasons that had little to do with money. Governments supported the arts because it was good for us, or a sign of civilisation, or it asserted our Australianness. The arts made it a better world to live in. Today the role that government plays in the arts is constantly being questioned.

The “creatives” who argue that governments should let go of dated ideas of “The Arts” range from frustrated designers or web workers or architects through to economists, bureaucrats and postmodern academics. They’re supported by some in the high art world who figure that any case for subsidies needs a little economic jargon, the odd research report, and some friendly sound bites about how many direct and indirect jobs the sector supports.

Those who advocate supporting art for art’s sake range from staunch defenders of artistic independence to stridently anti-commercial artists, to the opera lovers, the landed gentry and reflexive defenders of the status quo. They’re supported by every artist and community worker who is sick of justifying self-evidently beneficial projects and programs with elaborate pseudo-economic nonsense for Treasury and political press releases.

To the creative industries crew, the capital “A” Art types look like unreconstructed elitists, with an antique view of what is and isn’t proper art. All the subjective talk of “intrinsic value” seems a lot like code for elevating whatever they are personally into, and getting the Government to underwrite it, no questions asked.

To the capital “A” Art types, the creative industries crew look like the bastard children of shallow pop culture and decades of economic rationalism. They dangerously reduce everything to the dollar and miss the central point that culture is about something bigger than making a buck. They seem destined to stuff culture with the same free market that has so spectacularly stuffed up everything else.

I’ve regularly found myself popping up behind enemy lines on both sides. I alternate between finding both sides compelling and hopelessly and frustratingly wrong.

I believe passionately in the principle of art for art’s sake – and yet I also believe that arts policy is desperately behind the times. The traditional art forms of theatre, dance, classical music, opera and the visual arts still dominate government spending and focus while the so-called “commercial” arts touch our lives far more than the traditional ones.

If we want to make this world a better place, then design, architecture, contemporary music, mass media, digital media and video games have a cultural significance that far outstrips the impact of the high arts. They are art forms, not cash cows. They demand to be taken seriously because of their intrinsic worth and impact. It is an insult and not an elevation to talk of them only in terms of industry development and export earnings.

Just as importantly, any cultural policy motivated by picking economic winners is doomed to fail. You can’t pick the next cultural movement. Last year’s trends are next year’s cliches and any attempt to pick them as policy is likely to go horribly wrong.

The paradox of creative industries is that artists rarely behave like industries. Artists can be good business people but for the great ones, money is rarely what drives them. Thinking of them as economically rational players motivated by the desire to maximise their profits is a recipe for failed industries and terrible art.

Policy needs to celebrate the creative imperative in all its forms. It needs to provide fertile ground for creative people and encourage and support them to take risks, experiment and innovate. It shouldn’t matter whether you are a painter, a sculptor, in a rock band, a theatre maker, an architect or a computer-games designer. The industries will take care of themselves.

26 comments:

Marcus said...

Hi Terry, thanks for picking up on my post. I should clarify that that "industries will take care of themselves" line is a taken a little out of context in your post. It is intended as the last line that follows on from the beginnig of the paragraph:

"Policy needs to celebrate the creative imperative in all its forms. It needs to provide fertile ground for creative people and encourage and support them to take risks, experiment and innovate."

I would argue that if policy does that then the "industries will take care of themselves." The version as it appears on the blog is the sub-edited version and i think my original draft made that connection more explicitly.

My argument is that governments should first and foremost foster the fertile ground rather than picking winners on either cultural or economic criteria.

Mark Bahnisch said...

Marcus, I'm not sure you've succeeded in overcoming the dichotomy here. Implicit in the piece, I think, is an argument for redirecting funding from trad arts (and that's the implication I think Terry is also picking up on). It's then as if you're saying that it's a false dichotomy, but can't help coming down on one side of it.

I kind of agree with the last para. But I'm unclear as to how this would work in practice, and how one would avoid picking winners in one way or another. If you discard aesthetic and economic criteria, you nevertheless need criteria, and again, I think there are some unstated ones hiding here.

Marcus said...

Hi Mark,

I'm not sure of suceeded in overcoming the dichotomy either! A lot of the terminology is also highly loaded so there are no lack of mindfields to step on here.

I have been known to make the case to direct funding away from the trad arts - although that was not specifically my motivation here.

I guess, as i say in the original article it is not so much that i am fighting on one side or the other of the debate. I feel more the sense that i keep on popping up behind enemy lines becasue i read the terrain very differently to the way in which it usually described.

I don't thing that the values i am articulated are unstated or hiding here. They're actually pretty explicit. Culturally, I value risk, experimentation and innovation. I could add others such as diversity, orginality, etc. They're all values that don't lend themselves to highly interventionist approaches be they motivated by economic or cultural outcomes.

Yet there are policy settings that increase the likelihood that these things will emerge and they are probably quite different to the current default settings. It's a nuanced argument and one that i am constantly thinking and rethinking. I'll let you know when i've finally figured it out.

Glen said...

"My argument is that governments should first and foremost foster the fertile ground rather than picking winners on either cultural or economic criteria."

Excellent point!

In complete seriousness the ideal situation would be to fund an entire social milieu. However much the tradarts and creinds are separated in discourse in reality (ok, in my experience) the separation does not exist on the level of actual interaction. Creativity as such does not belong to one camp, it circulates and forms alliances. I would call them 'scenes' where creative types, admin staff, managers, marketers, etc. all may share overlapping, congruent or even similar professional interests but with vastly different professional competencies. Taking care of a space of communication and actual interaction is paramount.

Mark Bahnisch said...

Marcus, I should note that I'm well aware that there's a difference between an op/ed and a policy paper! I guess what I was wondering or, rather, trying to draw you out on, was what more specific measures you might envisage. Having said that, I don't want to put you on the spot, as I'm a great believer in my own adage that you can't necessarily do policy by blog post!

But if we can return to the dichotomy for a moment... Let's take the example of classically trained musicians. Which is more innovative? Playing original music in a jazz quartet, composition work, playing as part of an ensemble performing a new composition, writing and thinking about new music, forging a new way to connect with other genres, cultivating a listening culture through performing standards in a different place and context, etc.

There are possible ways of encouraging all... But if choices have to be made (and I think we still need to work further on what fostering a creative ecology might mean), then one needs some standard of value. Economic measures are perhaps the most (deceptively?) obvious - and again, it seems to me that your argument sort of defaults back to market measures. Aesthetic value is not as endlessly contestible as sometimes argued, and it seems to me that any form of critical appraisal can only work if it has a consistent set of elements (which is *not* an argument for just one criterion or for the existence of universal aesthetics).

It seems to me that you're rejecting other measures of value in terms of innovation - but then that's notoriously hard to quantify or measure for very good reason.

Mark Bahnisch said...

Sorry - I meant to write "in favour of innovation". Tired and have the flu! Glen's onto something, too, I think.

Marcus said...

@Glen - i tend to agree with you particularly that the "separation does not exist on the level of actual interaction." It is often an purely academic and political luxury to get too lost in the distinction. Most jobbing creative types end up all over the argument very quickly when operating in the real world.

@Mark this wasn't even an op-ed. I have a weekly column now so the challenge is to come up with something every week. Sometime it emerges half formed, sometimes it is a pure musing, and sometimes it is an intentional and well constructed arugment. I think this one was probably half formed musing.

I will dodge your argument about classical music for the simple reason that i don't know in that context which is more innovative.

However...

But i will have a go at your larger argument. I think governments need to resist the temptation to micro manage cultural activity as the core of cultural policy. It's been the model we've followed for quite a long time and i am increasingly frustrated by it.

It is incredibly tempting to look at cultural policy as a series of specific gaps: the lack of a great orchestra in a particular city, the lack of classical jazz on a friday, a specific venue that a particular group needs. Equally, it is tempting to look at say the computer games industry and argue that it is a growing industry and needs to be fostered in a particular place.

I am not AGAINST that approach per se but i think it's a 3rd or 4th order issue of cultural policy.

I look at it this way. What do ALL creators need? They need access to space, they need access to time, they need access to enough money to live on. How do you create policy settings that allow for that?

Then, what do you need as you scale up? You need access to capital(as Terry rightly pointed out). How do you facilitate that? You could equally ask, how do you create a society that puts a premium on good design? Etc.

If you start to look at it wholistically, you start to come up with wholistic strategies. To take the example i am involved in right now you can start creating incentives and regulations that encourage and allow artists to access space. We've launched 20 separate projects in Newcastle since Feb by doing that. Some of them are commercial, some of them are high art, some of them are effectively craft or hobbies but the platform is neutral to that. The need is not dependent on the intent so why should the strategy be?

Similarly, you can do the same thing for capital. You can create structures that encourage both philanthropic and commercial resources to be directed towards culture. You can create tax incentives towards creativity. You can create platforms that build new markets and audiences - liscensing spectrum for example. All of which is different than trying to choose which films to fund or which computer games to make.

You can create regulatory structures that make it easier for people to create.

This is the fertile ground i'm talking about. I am increasingly of the view that cultural policy should start here. It should at its base level be neutral in terms of its outcomes or in terms of the culture it is trying to create.

Bayond that, then the kinds of iniatives and programs (both cultural and economic) that make up our funding structures today can then be inserted as additional layers. But to look at them as the core or the centre is the tail wagging the dog.

Mark Bahnisch said...

Marcus - I agree that cultural policy shouldn't be micromanaged, and in particular that a whole lot of other policy priorities shouldn't be endlessly articulated to it as further demonstration of "value".

But again, while there are some aspects of what you suggest that I'm in favour of wholeheartedly, I still think the questions of values and priorities arises. Resources are still scarce (including as you observe, time as well as space) and it seems to me that the logical implication of your suggestions is that someone else makes that choice rather than government (for example, social philanthropists). Those choices might be just as much about "picking winners" - ideally they should be made on a transparent basis, but that's far from guaranteed because the choices are private rather than public or indeed, often, communal or collective ones.

Fantastic as it is, I also think the Renew Newcastle model might be less generalisable than perhaps you allow - not just in terms of the particular local gov't etc. dynamics - I think we agree on that, but for other reasons. To some degree, there's the question of what occurs when it succeeds... which in a way, is the lifecycle of something like the Valley as a music precinct - it falls victim to its own success, and then we get the new new Valley - The Gabba apparently. But a lot of what sparked off the first one isn't there, and can't be for a whole range of reasons.

Perhaps that's a different debate though!

Marcus said...

Mark,

I agree with you about values but i believe the values and priorities should be embedded in the system and not in the individual works. We actually have a whole series of values embedded in our current system that go unquestioned and unacknowledged.

The reality is that - even for all the micromanaging - government only peripherally make the choices that you are concerned about letting go of. Our cultural choices are made by communities, by markets, by individuals, etc far more than they are made by governments.

Mark Bahnisch said...

Hmmm, well, yes, Marcus, but that still begs a number of questions - including the perennial one of whether value exists outside the immediate success, failure, popularity, etc. of a work, project.

I'm not sure how rigorously creativity is defined in your framework. Or innovation, which is what I was getting at before. The difficulty with an all encompassing concept of creativity is that it really starts to become quite ethereal.

So I think that leaves values embedded in your alternative system which are also unacknowledged. Returning to the example of social philanthropists, "profit for purpose" etc. still require assessment, validation, evaluation and so forth. But what are the yardsticks?

I'm also not entirely sure that innovation is necessarily fostered without shaping, guidance and innovation. Which again I take to be Terry's point (or at least complementary to Terry's point).

I think you've got another dichotomy going here between community and policy! ;) In a sense, it seems to me that the crucial conceptual difficulty is that you're sort of opposing culture as a grass roots thing to policy as a top down thing. Neither is necessarily true, nor necessary in practice.

I hope this doesn't sound like nitpicking. I actually think some of these things need to be thought through if you were to translate what you want to see outside the realm of a specific example or instance into a broader policy framework (even if that policy is to have less policy, or to be facilitative rather than directive).

Mark Bahnisch said...

Eek! I should go to bed.

"fostered without shaping, guidance and purpose"!

Terry Flew said...

Glad everyone enjoyed my blog post while i was sleeping. One point I'd make is that I personally reject the dichotomy of 'top-down' policy and 'bottom-up' community. I discussed this in my PhD (which I'm sure you've all read!), and drew on Gay Hawkins' history of community arts in Australia in this respect, which she saw as a 'policy invention' of the 1970s.

Mark Bahnisch said...

I'm not sure it would be entirely accurate to say that I've read my own PhD, Terry! ;)

Marcus said...

Hmmm.. I simply don't agree that any shift in approach from micromangement to enabling fertile ground particulalry raises "whether value exists outside the immediate success, failure, popularity, etc. of a work, project" any more than the current system. I am not sure how much time you spend IN the current system?

One the strongest arguments against the current model is that it renders artists and creative communities incredibly vulnerable to the need to immediately demonstrate success or popularity. From a funded arts point of view it is often constructed as a series of short term iniatives and whims that come and go very quickly. The market can be even more unforgiving.

A policy approach that addresses these structural problems - through attacking costs, processes, and barriers first and foremost is far LESS vulnerable to these pressures than any system aimed to pick specific winners or micromange which works/forms/ or entities do cultural production.

Also, my definition of creativity is not particularly ehterial. It is simply inclusive of both the terrain defined by "the arts" and the terrain definced by the "creative industries" - which can cross over and can also disagree at times.

As for the dichotomy of policy and community. I don't understand what you're getting at. In what sense do you think i am putting it forward as a dichotomy? Policy can and does enable community/ communities. But logic that underpins current policies often frustrates them because communities come in a vast range of shapes and sizes that interfaces to policy/ funding systems often do not.

Part of the question here is fundametally about whether culture follows either a beuracratic or a market logic. I would argue that mostly it doesn't follow either - mostly (and at its best) it follows the somewhat irrational nature of human passion. Therefore the policy question becomes one of how you make paths between passion and viability - of the funded kind, of the low cost but sustainable kind, or of the market kind.

anyhow.. i am not sure this discussion is parituclarly likely to advance now that we all (myself included) seemingly in danger of getting onto our hobby horses and attempting to ride them off into the sunset.

Mark Bahnisch said...

"A policy approach that addresses these structural problems - through attacking costs, processes, and barriers first and foremost is far LESS vulnerable to these pressures than any system aimed to pick specific winners or micromange which works/forms/ or entities do cultural production."

In what way is it less vulnerable?

As I understand what you are saying, either regulatory barriers to creative production would be removed, which would presumably leave monetary rewards at the discretion of market success, or rewards would be allocated through priority setting by philanthropists and/or social entrepreneurs?

Mark Bahnisch said...

"As for the dichotomy of policy and community. I don't understand what you're getting at. In what sense do you think i am putting it forward as a dichotomy? Policy can and does enable community/ communities. But logic that underpins current policies often frustrates them because communities come in a vast range of shapes and sizes that interfaces to policy/ funding systems often do not."

There's a dichotomy there in two ways. First, you seem to valorise community as if it is always a good - whereas in fact, communities can be dysfunctional and there's always a structural possibility of that to the degree that the inclusiveness which constitutes community is constituted by an exclusion of those outside in order to form a communal identity. Secondly, you seem to see policy as some sort of leviathan which intervenes or regulates or acts as a deus ex machina from the outside, and in your writing, it appears to act as a figure for current government practice, and is negatively valorised. In fact, it's also possible that policy can arise from below, or in a sort of iterative movement between community and government. That may not be necessarily so, of course!

Marcus said...

"As I understand what you are saying, either regulatory barriers to creative production would be removed, which would presumably leave monetary rewards at the discretion of market success, or rewards would be allocated through priority setting by philanthropists and/or social entrepreneurs?"

The presumedly is the problem there. I actually have said a couple of times in this thread that i am not averse to government fundig and strategic intiatives but they are a much lower priority than ensuring that the ground is fertile.

In a hurry but...

"There's a dichotomy there in two ways. First, you seem to valorise community as if it is always a good - whereas in fact, communities can be dysfunctional and there's always a structural possibility of that to the degree that the inclusiveness which constitutes community is constituted by an exclusion of those outside in order to form a communal identity."

Actually i don't valorise communities at all. I just recognise that communities in the broadest(physical, demographic, virtual) sense are mechanism by which cultures are formed and propagated. Yes, that is problematic. Ignoring it (and ignoring the plurality inherent in recognising it) is far more problematic still.

"Secondly, you seem to see policy as some sort of leviathan which intervenes or regulates or acts as a deus ex machina from the outside, and in your writing, it appears to act as a figure for current government practice, and is negatively valorised. In fact, it's also possible that policy can arise from below, or in a sort of iterative movement between community and government. That may not be necessarily so, of course!"

Again, you're arguing with a straw man here. I am not arguing against "policy", i am arguing for a new kind of policy approach - and i assume and expect that it will come from below.

Mark Bahnisch said...

"The presumedly is the problem there. I actually have said a couple of times in this thread that i am not averse to government fundig and strategic intiatives but they are a much lower priority than ensuring that the ground is fertile."

Ok, thanks for the clarification, Marcus. But you still leave me puzzled as to how government funding should be allocated (and as I've been suggesting - the same question applies analogically to any other source of funding). You criticise both intrinsic or aesthetic value and a reliance solely on market value and/or success. You say that your values relate to innovation and risk.

In a practical sense, then, how would someone (gov't or private or social entrepreneur) committing money to a project or work do anything else other than pick winners? If the relevant measure was degree of innovation or something, that seems to me to either be open to privileging some sort of avant-garde modernism (which is circling back to art for art's sake) or to be open to being gamed - hey, look, my grant application or business plan ticks all the boxes!

I'm not trying to be critical for criticism's sake. I suspect you and I agree on a lot. But you post this stuff presumably looking for feedback and I'm attempting to be something of a critical friend in pointing out that I think you haven't fully worked through the logic of the position you're advocating (which really does seem to me to depend on a number of binary oppositions) and also to try to flesh out how some of this might work in practice.

I would certainly agree, for instance, that room should be left for risk taking and failure, but again there's another problem in translating this into a policy mechanism or a funding mode that does that in terms of individual instances, but in a manner consistent with the general principle and objective. That's one of the core problems of policy - and I'm not sure you fully appreciate the degree to which it has both influenced existing policy and funding mechanisms and how it would have to be resolved, or at least mediated, if your ideas were to be translated into practice.

Ben said...

Mark, I think what Marcus is getting at here is partly based in his experience of the way cultural policy is actually practiced in Australia. As we both know, cultural policy makers in state government arts departments are not exactly sophisticated in their analysis or understanding of these debates ... indeed, my experience of them at Arts Queensland was that they were typically rotating in from a party staffing position or another department in the government (in one case, Natural Resources).

Looked at in this context, you can see why Marcus is frustrated with the typical three-year initiatives for things like "Story of the Future" or "Make It New" or "Gritty Places" which typically deliver a wad of money with an only vaguely argued justification, often to satisfy the whims of a particularly energetic member of the arts bureaucracy who has "got a project up." So the pragmatics here are pretty prosaic.

Marcus, I also agree with Mark that there is a certain inherent inconsistency in adopting a suspicion with "picking winners." Even when governments don't actively "pick winners," they end up advantaging certain companies and artists, for instance those who are best able to exploit a deregulated industry policy or leverage their market power in anti-competitive ways.

Copyright law, just to cite one example, while not advantaging a particular artist here or corporation there, still by its nature "picks winners" - those who own copyright properties - at the disadvantage of those who don't.

The question of what sorts of basic capital infrastructure creative and cultural pursuits might require is an interesting. Certainly we can all agree on the importance of education and human capital. But human and cultural capital tends to exert influences on the policy environment too - as we can see, for instance, in the current debate abotu VCA, which is the result of the VCA's previously high fuinding levels being reduced to levels equal to other arts institutions at Australian universities.

So I think Mark is right when he points out that resource allocation makes its presence felt even in "enabling" policy areas like education, or indeed urban planning regulations.

Jason said...

Terry, is there a digital copy of your thesis online anywhere?

Terry Flew said...

Jason, my PhD is now online, thanks to your advice to get on Scribd.

It can be found at http://www.scribd.com/share/upload/13755610/1c1pqv9ruhp8t9iay0cx

I'm glad everyone is enjoying playing in this park.

Mark Bahnisch said...

"Looked at in this context, you can see why Marcus is frustrated with the typical three-year initiatives for things like "Story of the Future" or "Make It New" or "Gritty Places" which typically deliver a wad of money with an only vaguely argued justification, often to satisfy the whims of a particularly energetic member of the arts bureaucracy who has "got a project up." So the pragmatics here are pretty prosaic."

Yep, Ben, agreed. That's kinda what I was getting at with my comment about articulating all sorts of other supposedly worthy aims to grant guidelines and arts programmes. A lot more realism - for instance in some of the claims made for CCD - would be welcome all round.

Marcus said...

Mark, i fear the academic propensity for theoretical abstraction is clashing with own shorthand and pragmatic approaches. And you're right that we do almost certainly agree more than we differ... but ...

Yes, there will always be people picking winners, ye any system has values in it, and yes any system will always have flaws and condratictions in it. All this stuff is so unremarkable that i am not even arguing against it.

However my larger argument is about PRIORITIES and STRATEGIES.

Current cultural policy approaches (specifically from arts agencies) are almost ENTIRELY about picking winners. I've sat on commitees of the OZco, Arts NSW, Arts Vic, and advised Arts WA and Arts Queensland. It is only a slight exageration to argue that picking winners and administering past winners is ALL that those organisations do. You can give me examples where those agencies have not done that but they are few and far between.

As i've said repeatedly some element of this will always be in the system. I'm not opposed to an element of it (although i can think of other ways to improve that process) but i want to deprioritise it.

My argument is that the picking winners approach should not be the the core function. It should be a second or third order complemantary approach. The first order approach should be systemic. It should be based on looking at systemic settings and maximising the possibilities for viable creative enterprises and initiatives (for profit and not for profit) to form, develop and grow.

As an example, government should be less obsessed with building and manging arts centres and more interested in creating preconditions where arts infrastructures plural can form.

It can do this by attacking questions of cost and complexity and in doing so it can minimise them for all rather than fund a select few projects over the hurdles. In doing so, you make ALL creative intiatives less vulnerable to the pressure either to monetise what they do OR to the whims of funding bodies because the bar of viability and sustainability is set much lower.

The model that we've created in Newcastle is a product of this thinking. While the direct model is clearly not universally applicable the thinking certainly is.

Again, i am talking about priority not exclusivity here. I have no interest in a discussion about why i am arguing that government can't do other things because i am not.

I am arguing for a major reorientation of priorities. If you disagree with that, or with my analysis of the current state of play then we have something to debate. If you don't then i'm not sure we're at odds.

Mark Bahnisch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Bahnisch said...

"I'm glad everyone is enjoying playing in this park."

Thanks Terry!

We haven't got to the haiku or discussion of Missy Higgins' sexuality stage yet, of course! ;)

Mark Bahnisch said...

[Stuffed up the wording of the penultimate comment!]

Marcus, thanks for the clarification. I don't disagree that there needs to be a rethinking from first principles, and I think Ben's getting at that too.

I hazard to suggest, though, that you're being a bit more abstract than I am! ;)

We can agree on certain principles, and then agree that they should be priorities, but I think what I'm trying to suggest is that work still needs to be done to translate those into a consistent approach that can be implemented. I guess my view is that we all need clarity about concepts before moving to the next step. That's why I've been trying to highlight what I see as being some possible inconsistencies in your argument. Does that make sense? I'm more than happy for people to do the same to mine! It's a valuable exercise, I think, to sharpen our ideas through discussion and debate.

My own take, and again I suspect that we all share it in one way or another, is that we need to move beyond critique of the existing scene and forward into actually doing some stuff in practice and learning from that, before we can then perhaps articulate what the principles should be. Hence the comment about the degree to which the Renew Newcastle model is generalisable. The more that people go out there and try to tease out what works and what doesn't, then the better we collectively can abstract from that to a set of principles which can encompass a variety of stuff. Abstraction, I'd suggest, is a necessary part of policy thinking (though not the only part) as well as of academic work! That's where I'm coming from, really.