Lowdown, Australia’s youth performing arts magazine, was a project of Carclew's for over 30 years, making it one of Australia’s oldest continuing performing arts publications.
At various times in this period Lowdown was distributed to over 70 countries and to every school in Australia, covered youth arts in six continents and in every State and Territory, provided a forum where the Australian youth arts sector could express itself and reflected the vibrant diversity of youth arts across Australia and the world.
In September 2011 Lowdown ceased its operations. Its legacy lives on, however, here in The Lowdown Archive, a wealth of information about the history, development, debates and philosophy of Australian youth performing arts and the productions that have performed to tens of millions of Australians, young and old.
Australia has a long history of taking on cultural influences from outside the country and synthesising them into something uniquely Australian. This was the case in the 1980s, when Australian youth performing arts practitioners embarked on a long and at times bitter series of debates about the function, form and content of their work. During this time they synthesised a range of overseas and homegrown influences in Australian theatre for young audiences and youth arts practice, including Theatre in Education, developmental drama, political theatre, alternative theatre and community arts.
In 1987, Australia also became the centre of world youth performing arts for a short time during the 1987 ASSITEJ World Congress in Adelaide. This triennial global gathering of the International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People (ASSITEJ) had a profound impact on Australian youth performing arts over the next decades.
Living in the 2010s, it’s easy to underestimate the profound changes taking place in the world in the late 1980s and 1990s.
It was an era of ‘post-s’ - post-Cold War, postmodern, poststructural and postcolonial. The information revolution was in full swing, meaning that every year from 1987 to 2007 featured phenomenal increases in the capacity to receive, store, exchange and compute information. Culture, creativity and technology were interacting in new and exciting ways, particularly amongst young people, and the boundaries between art forms were falling down. Even the concept of art and the role of the professional artist were questioned, with new festivals featuring contemporary and digital art created in makeshift studios, backyard sheds and teenagers' bedrooms.