Tribute to Dr Michael Volkerling

Dr Michael Volkerling with the Female Orphan School building in the background.Dr Michael Volkerling died suddenly on 13 June, 2014 in Sydney.

Michael worked with the University of Western Sydney's Institute for Culture and Society since 2011, in a variety of roles including adjunct researcher and Principal Research Fellow. At ICS he was greatly respected and much admired for his cultural policy expertise, and his sustained publication record in cultural policy studies. Michael had been working on a number of current projects at ICS.

His work on the Australian Research Council funded Linkage project 'Recalibrating Culture' was well underway. This project explores changing modes of cultural production and consumption through a case study of the cultural economy of the dynamic and diverse Greater Western Sydney region. With a project team that included UWS academics and several local government partners and cultural agencies, Michael was working towards a new policy approach to Australian cultural development that would encompass the rapidly changing conditions of our times.

Michael was also about to start work on the new Australian Research Council Discovery project 'Australian Cultural Fields', working alongside a team of 10 esteemed Australian and international researchers. Michael was to focus on the operations of policy agencies across cultural fields as various as heritage, music and art, and guide the preparation of reports on the policy implications of the findings at various stages of the inquiry. Michael made important contributions to the project's funding application – which was awarded one of the highest levels of support of all social science projects in its round by the Australian Research Council – and was a participant in the project's mid-2014 planning workshop.

Throughout his time at ICS, Michael had also worked on projects, evaluations and applications involving Opera Australia, Penrith City Council, and the NSW Arts and Disability Partnership 2012–14.

The breadth and depth of Michael's experience of arts and cultural policies – both academically and as a practitioner – was invaluable to ICS. He will be greatly missed by all researchers and staff at the Institute; as an academic, a colleague and a friend.

A tribute to Michael, by Professor Deborah Stevenson, has also been published in the International Journal of Cultural Policy.

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