Canberra is the cultural capital, institutions tell Australians in new tourism pitch

Ian Bushnell 25 June 2021
Heads of national institution

The heads of Canberra’s Cultural Icons at the campaign launch at Canberra Airport. National Gallery Director Nick Mitzevich is absent. Photos: Ian Bushnell.

A dozen of the national capital’s attractions and institutions have joined together for the first time in a new pitch to Australians to visit Canberra for a cultural experience like no other in the country.

Launched at Canberra Airport on Friday (25 June), the two-month Cultural Icons campaign will position Canberra as the nation’s premier cultural destination, where the city’s major institutions offer a unique perspective on the Australian story.

Aimed at short-stay visitors, the campaign comes with a Made of Australia tagline as the region looks to capitalise on the demand for new and exciting domestic travel opportunities.

The launch comes as a fresh COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney grows, derailing travel plans for many during school holidays and again casting a shadow over the nation’s tourism industry, but National Museum of Australia Director Dr Matthew Trinca said it was just the time when Australians needed to hear the Cultural Icons message.

“In the age of COVID, there never seems to be a good time, or every time is a good time, depending on your point of view,” he said.

“Our view was, in the end, it was the strength and purpose of this group coming together that means something, and it means something right in the midst of a COVID outbreak just as much it means something when it’s a less pressing concern.

“It’s important that this group expresses a solidarity, a value together of what we represent in the national interest, what we express on behalf of the city but also the nation.”

The institutions have been working together for decades, but this is the first time they have combined to promote their sites under a single brand to shout out assertively to Australians what is available for them in the national capital.

Dr Mathew Trinca

Dr Mathew Trinca: “You can’t go to Melbourne or Sydney and go to 12 major agencies or institutions telling facets of our cultural and collective lives.”

“People talk about Sydney and Melbourne as being our great cultural centres; in truth, Canberra’s the great cultural centre of the nation,” he said. “There’s nowhere like this.

“You can’t go to Melbourne or Sydney and go to 12 major agencies or institutions telling facets of our cultural and collective lives. It’s only in Canberra you can have that experience.

“From finding a family name in the Australian War Memorial’s Roll of Honour to rediscovering iconic Australian cinema at the National Film and Sound Archive, our Cultural Icons reflect Australia’s past, present and future.”

After two disappointing summers, first blighted by bushfires and then COVID-19, the goal is to reignite what Dr Trinca said had become an annual hot ticket item for travellers looking for a cultural experience and boost attendances across the attractions.

He believes the brand has bite and will endure beyond this initial campaign to become part of the individual institutions’ messaging.

“Our intention is to keep using this message, this collective branding of the Cultural Icons Made of Australia through our work over the coming months, and we hope years,” he said.

“It made a lot of sense. We are made of the stories of the people of this land.”

As well as a significant digital campaign, the campaign also includes a partnership with Beam scooters that gives visitors a discounted pass to easily travel between the institutions, outdoor advertising at Canberra Airport and opportunity for special events with media organisations.

The campaign, which the ACT Government has supported through its tourism stimulus package, will run until 31 August 2021.

The Cultural Icons are National Library of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Questacon, National Film and Sound Archive, National Museum of Australia, Australian War Memorial, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, Australian Parliament House, National Archives of Australia, Royal Australian Mint, National Portrait Gallery and National Capital Authority.


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