15 June 2018

Creative State Summit

SensiLab Director Jon McCormack took part in a panel discussion at the 2018 Creative State Summit. He wrote about his involvement.

The creative state summit was a gargantuan event that brings together creative practitioners, artists, producers, technologists and academics from across Victoria and beyond. Held over two days at the Melbourne Museum, the sell-out event had the theme this year of “Creativity in a Post-Truth World”.

As part of the panel session “Building Startups in the Creative Industries” with fellow panelists Bonnie Shaw (Smart City Office, City of Melbourne), Sarah Moran (Girl Geek Academy), Helen Simondson (Head of ACMI X) and Anna Burkey (State Library of Victoria) our task was to share experiences in nurturing and supporting emerging creative ideas and startups.

The afternoon program also served to launch Foundry658, a new creative accelerator for entrepreneurs. A collaborative venture from the State Library, ACMI and Creative Victoria, the program provides training and support for independent artists, small arts organisations, creative entrepreneurs and startups to develop a concept or idea towards a commercially viable proposition.

Panelists shared their experience on developing different creative startups, or, in my case, developing a creative technologies lab.

It was good to hear about the support our state agencies — such as the State Library, City of Melbourne and ACMI X — are providing for local arts and creative entrepreneurs. It’s interesting to observe how programs have shifted from a largely grant funding approach to a startup program that anticipates more business-focused outcomes, perhaps leading to more longer-term sustainability.

Questions from the audience raised interesting points about the often conflicted agendas of technology-based startups, STEM and the creative arts. I made the point that our current technology driven agendas could benefit immensely from the humanities and social sciences, particularly in this “post-truth” age.

The panel also featured Bonnie Shaw (City of Melbourne), Sarah Moran (Girl Geek Academy); Helen Simondson (ACMI) and Anna Burkey (State Library of Victoria). Photo: Chris Hopkins

Over the last decade, the nature of work has changed significantly. Co-working spaces, technology-driven startups, hackerthons and popup businesses are the norm. Our internet-driven, social media powered culture, situated in a globalised economy has driven this change. What is widely recognised is that even successful tech startups require creative and entrepreneurial business skills along side technical prowess: what Sarah Moran (borrowing from Rei Inamoto) referred to as “the hipster, the hacker and the hustler“.

Melbourne and Victoria have enormous potential for building new business and cultural enterprises based on this “triple threat” model, but to achieve real global significance requires strategic coherence between all the players: government at all levels, business, independent creatives, academia and education.

The creative state summit helped galvanise these different players and is part of an on-going conversation on the changing nature of creative enterprise in the twenty-first century.

Photos: Chris Hopkins