Posts Tagged ‘C3 West’

Assessing the value of a sport – example: Penrith Panthers.

In General Mish-Mash on February 29, 2012 at 2:47 pm

How do you measure the value of the game, the team, the club … what do they really bring to their community? Once you measure it, how do you illustrate it, what words describe it, how do you get others to believe in it?

These are questions we asked ourselves regularly.

The first response to such an inquiry is often to look towards the bean-counters for answers, sometimes it is suggested that it is a question of brand value and it’s discoverable through market (or marketing) research. Once an answer is found (if it is), it is handed to communicators and marketers to get others to buy into the equation.

Overwhelmingly those asking this question about value seek answers that are numeric, easily understood, and easily sold.

But I remember watching Ryan Girdler signing autographs one day.

An hour after all the players had left he still had a queue in front of him. He stayed until the last person. Every single person on that queue was given the attention they needed to feel special. The very last person was a little boy … and when his poster was signed, Ryan took off his cap, patted him on the shoulder and said, “Would you like my cap? It’s yours!” . 

The look on that boy’s face was priceless … and so was the look of satisfaction that Ryan had. It was simple thing, a brief, shared moment – paying homage and respect to the effort they had each put in. A timeless moment, expressing something far too complex and precious to be assessed using the methodology of accountants or auditors. (Ryan may have forgotten that moment as he had many of these moments, I doubt the boy has, and it is indelibly stamped in my memory.)

In 2008, we decided to take a different approach to this perplexing question of assessing and expressing the value of our game, club.

We handed the question over to an artist! About as distant from econometrics as you can get.

Why? Well, artists historically have been about expressing value and values in unique and often confronting ways, ways that either engage or challenge or both. We wanted both – engagement and to have our paradigms challenged. (Well, I wanted that challenge for us … )

Craig Walsh was the artist selected for this project. The following notes on value were written for the exhibition of Craig’s work. The work was called Heads Up. To take a look at some of the images, view the promotional video, and hear the artist talk about the work – click here – or click on the image below  new window will open).

This photo gives you an idea of the scale of the images created … and further below is the article on the Panthers written for the exhibition:

An idea of scale - there were 17 images of this size in the exhibition.


The general practice, when questions of value arise, is to hand over to some sort of assessor whose fundamental metric is symbolised by the dollar sign.

Measuring the value of the Penrith Panthers Rugby League team in our community is the launching point for this work.

We have handed over to an artist!

The financial impact of our game, our club, and our team on our community is an important measure. Its importance sometimes masks a lack of depth and dimension. It is desperately inadequate for assessing the real value of anything.

Even modern accountancy’s “triple bottom line” cannot give a rounded and complete picture. This is true even for the most discrete and simple activity, let alone the game of Rugby League … or a Rugby League game!

To truly measure value we need to extend out palette beyond the red and black inks of the ledger. The assessment tools and indicators we use need to exist beyond the shadows cast by financial symbols.

What if, during a game, we monitored fans and measured the changes in heart rate, the drip rate of beads of sweat, the rate of flow of tears, the glances of unspoken camaraderie, the grieving time (this is being written after a big loss) or emotional altitude reached in celebration of an important win?

Can we measure the depth of admiration in the eyes of the young autograph-hunting fan … or the extent to which that look increases the sense of self-esteem and responsibility in the young, rookie player. Indeed, even in the “old” hard-heads on the verge of retirement and those already confined to play their game through legendary tales.

At Penrith Panthers what sort of emotional thermometer is applied to our players, administrators and educators alike when they witness the graduation ceremony of students in the Panthers on the Prowl program? We can count the number of young children who earn their membership of The Prowling Panthers fraternity. We should be able to collect and weigh the tears of joy from proud parents and the decibels emitted by the sighs from grateful teachers. These are far more valuable than the result on the screen of any imaginable calculator.

This work by Craig Walsh measures the value of our game in ways that have not been attempted before. There is certainly evidence of that stoic Aussie mask, filtering the raw emotion, camouflaging the vulnerable and uncut treasure.

Craig has found a transparency, allowing us all to enter and count for ourselves the jewels in each of these images and each of these individuals.

The scars, the pores, the imperfections, the eyes, the discolouration, the emotion, the entire collection of minutiae evident in Heads Up are all measures of the impact of the players on each other, and they allow us to project as to the impact of both the players and the game on the community.

(By the way, by “players” I mean those players who take the field and those players who take their places in grandstands and on the hills of the stadium.)

These images have an infinite number of dimensions and potential interpretations. They cannot be reduced to caricatures, they are not images of super-heroes nor are they stereotypes representing a particular class or region.

They are human. Exceptionally high in value and warranting attention.


The Future of Penrith, Penrith of the Future.

In General Mish-Mash on October 26, 2011 at 11:28 am

It’s been 3 weeks since I’ve mishmashed!!

I haven’t been idle, I have been mishmashing but it is not material I would like to unleash on unsuspecting readers. My mishmashing has been like swimming in a pool of quicksand – lots of thrashing only to sink. Man, how simple it is for subterranean demons to emerge from the depths – a single chance encounter can tip the boat.

Time to lighten up.

My home town, Penrith (NSW), has been the focus of attention during the Sydney Architectural Festival.

Last Saturday, the Utzon Room at the Sydney Opera House was host to a symposium entitled – The Future of Penrith, Penrith of the Future.

The symposium, and the work presented, places Penrith firmly in the sights of serious attempts to shift the nature of cities located on the urban fringes. Fringe cities. Cities that are sub-urban.

Barry O’Farrell, NSW Premier & Minister for Western Sydney, opened the symposium. And Liz Ann Macgregor  – the wonderful Director of Sydney’s MCA and, more importantly, Panthers Fan – chaired the symposium.

Campement Urbain presented a bold and ambitious vision.

To me, the detail of that plan is not as important as the function it plays.

It establishes new ways of thinking about the suburban city – certainly Penrith but also as a generalisation. It offers a new standard, a new self-belief. The process positions suburban residents to breach the limits and standards of property developers, to take control and demand new standards.

The current CBD of Penrith, looking west. Can the inhabitants take control of its future?

Most importantly it serves to create different processes and drivers of urban & suburban development.

The ideas and the way they have been developed are much more than creative and visionary. They deliver a heightened sense of democracy and a shift in the paradigm of power.

When I first met with Sylvie Blocher (Campement Urbain) in 2005 – and helped her decide to work with Panthers – I had no idea it would lead to focusing on such important issues. Sylvie is an internationally acclaimed artist who is based in St Denis on the fringes of Paris.

Our meeting was part of Panthers involvement in the C3West project – a project that sought to harvest the potential that rested in the convergence of commercial, community, and cultural endeavours. The details of this project can be found in the publication The Art of Engagement edited by Elaine Lally, Ien Ang, and Kay Anderson.

I knew then, back in 2005 – and it remains true – that Panthers had to seek out new paradigms, new ways of operating, new images and perspectives of itself, it needed to get a grip on a future that was shutting down its relevance. This is still needed.

Sylvie had prepared material that spoke to the Panthers concept of The Club of the Future. The material she delivered was both insightful and confronting – it was called The Future of Panthers, Panthers of the Future. Momentarily Panthers showed an exciting willingness to be brave and crazy.

From this point we unleashed Campement Urbain on the local community – they presented to key stakeholders who have an interest in Panthers important landholding at Penrith – those stakeholders being Panthers, the Penrith City Council, and Panthers’ partner, ING.

Once again, the aim was to shift. Shift the thinking, shift the image, shift the meaning and the rules … shift the future.

Small beginnings and shaky starts can deliver wonderful results – all you need is patience, passion, resilience, care, and attention. That’s all!!! Anyway, I feel so proud to have played a part in getting my home town starring on stage under Australia’s greatest, most famous, most beautiful and most controversial roof.

It seemed appropriate that the symposium was held in the Utzon Room, after all Utzon’s design caused multiple, and big, shifts – not the least of which was to our largest city.

Campement Urbain is a creative collaborative group. The participants vary according to the project. For this project Campement Urbain is Sylvie Blocher, Francois Daune, and Tim Williams. Sylvie is an internationally acclaimed artist. Francois is an architect and urban planner based in Paris, and Tim is an architect and urban planner based in Sydney.

A post – Penrith par le Nepean – A French Vision for Penrith – in the The Preston Institute blog provides some specific details of the Campement Urbain proposition.

Opera Australia, Western Sydney, & Football

In General Mish-Mash on June 27, 2011 at 10:41 pm

The artistic director of Opera Australia, Lyndon Terracini, is looking to expand Opera Australia’s audience base … and he believes Western Sydney holds the key to that ambition.

See SMH June 21, 2011 – Opera looks to footy to make its mark.

There would be many who’d say he was dreamin’!

Undoubtedly many look at the “golden” west as the host of rich fields of customers ready for harvesting. The SMH article seems to suggest Terracini has this belief.

His belief may well be spot on … and there exists plenty of evidence to support that view.

Nevertheless, before attempting to harvest it is sensible – in fact may be essential – to enrich & fertilise the fields first, seed appropriately,  and ensure sustainability.

To move out of the metaphor, Opera Australia needs to give to the region before it can expect to be supported by the region.

Now, according the SMH article, Terracini sees his way into Sydney’s West as being paved by football – the AFL variety. He identifies Andrew Demetriou (the AFL supremo) as being his trailblazer because he has a solid grip on Australian culture. Better than most people engaged in either the arts sector or the political world. Again there is plenty to support this view. However, the jury can’t yet have returned a verdict on the evidence cited, namely the AFL’s move into Western Sydney (with GWS Giants). They have yet to kick a ball in anger.

Nevertheless there are precedents for the arts sector and the sports sector to form an alliance … and there are strong precedents in Western Sydney.

In fact, the partnerships built with Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, The Penrith Regional Gallery, and The Australian Balletdelivered an array of benefits to the Penrith Panthers, the City of Penrith, and Western Sydney.

Both the MCA and Australian Ballet were fantastic partners.

The Australian Ballet delivered a free concert at Penrith Stadium in November 2010. They approached Panthers about this because they learned about the very innovative work we had done with the MCA and Penrith Regional Gallery. After the first meeting they were convinced they were in the right place and Penrith Stadium replaced Parramatta Stadium as the venue for the free concert.

Footy & Ballet @ Penrith Stadium

The C3 West project wasthe focus for the partnership between Panthers and the MCA. The project aimed at creating synergy by operating in the space where the worlds of commerce, creativity, & community intersect. The outcomes have been extraordinary and the project is the subject of a soon to be published book.

Back to opera and footy – in 2006 we also experimented with operatic drama opening Panthers footy game. A song made famous by one of the world’s great singers, Paul Robeson, was belted out pre-game by Sydney singer David Aston. The song was The Killing Song, wonderfully aggressive and powerful, eminently suited to football. Alas! The fans didn’t like it! It was a bit too bold for them … and the team lost.



Maybe Opera Australia would be well served to have a chat with the teams at the Panthers, the MCA and the Australian Ballet to guide them in their Western Sydney expedition.