RMIT leaders to help shape Victoria’s investment in creative industries

RMIT leaders to help shape Victoria’s investment in creative industries

Two of RMIT’s highly regarded creative leaders have been appointed to a new advisory group that will help shape the Victorian Government’s strategy and investment in the creative industries from 2020.

Dr Vicki Couzens, interdisciplinary artist and Vice-Chancellor's Indigenous Research Fellow, and Professor Martyn Hook, Dean of Architecture and Urban Design, are among twenty Victorians contributing insights and expertise to the state government as it seeks to grow local creative industries and build its reputation as the creative state.

The RMIT duo join other established and emerging creative industries leaders with a broad range of interests spanning artforms, creative disciplines, commercial, community and academic settings.

Together they will provide insights on current issues and challenges, propose potential Government action, and make recommendations on how to best engage and develop investment and change within the industry.

Hook said the pair’s inclusion in the advisory group was recognition of the important contribution universities make to the creative industries.

“It’s not only through the graduates that we produce and the courses we offer but the contributions we make to cultural fabric of the city, whether that’s through exhibitions we put on ourselves, forums and engagement activities, or the facilities we make available like The Capitol and how they are made accessible to the creative industries within the state.”

Vicki Couzens, interdisciplinary artist and Vice-Chancellor's Indigenous Research Fellow. Image copyright: Australia Council for the Arts Vicki Couzens, interdisciplinary artist and Vice-Chancellor's Indigenous Research Fellow. Image copyright: Australia Council for the Arts

Couzens, who is widely known for her central role in the revival of the possum skin cloak making tradition, has worked in Aboriginal community affairs for almost 40 years and is actively involved in leadership roles in the Indigenous arts and cultural industry.

Hook said placing an indigenous lens on the creative sector is a critical part in how we might begin to continue some journey towards understanding sovereignty.

“It also provides us with a really solid beginning by recognising that creativity has been a fundamental part of indigenous culture for 60-70,000 years.”

He said the group would also focus attention on regional Victoria, and the strong link between creativity and the regeneration of small towns, with the creative industries sometimes holding communities together – literally – around festivals and the economy of performances.

“One of the narratives that emerged from our meeting was how Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Sale are contributing in this arc of creativity, which is networked back into the city.

“Understanding how the creative industries and cultural practices really sit hand in hand in some of these locations – not just regional centres like Warrnambool and Gippsland, but also smaller far-flung centres – and how they contribute to the community helps us consider how we might drive a seasonal approach to how creativity moves around the state.”

The group is also supporting an extensive public consultation to ensure that future strategy is informed by the experiences and needs of the community. 

Minister for Creative Industries and Chair of the advisory group Martin Foley said Victoria’s creative industries brought significant social, cultural and economic benefits to Victoria.

“They’re at the heart of our identity, our prized liveability and our appeal to visitors,” Foley said.

“Our first creative industries strategy was developed hand in hand with our creative community, and that has been the key to its success.”

Professor Martyn Hook, RMIT Dean of Architecture and Urban Design. Professor Martyn Hook, RMIT Dean of Architecture and Urban Design.

Australian Centre for Moving Image (ACMI) CEO Katrina Sedwick has been announced as deputy chair of the group.

ACMI and RMIT last year announced a new partnership, with the university hosting ACMI’s vast events and festival line-up at the iconic Capitol Theatre from mid-2019 to mid-2020.

Other members of the group include music powerhouse Adam Briggs, fashion designer Lisa Barron, media and marketing guru Russel Howcroft and game developer Lisy Kane.

Established dance artist Rosalind Crisp and multi-talented writer Alison Croggon - who each have 30 years’ professional experience – were also named alongside emerging producer and community arts worker Lana Nguyen and spoken word artist and author Abraham ‘Abe’ Nouk who was illiterate when he and his family arrived in Australia in 2004.

Victoria’s creative industries have experienced significant growth, as has their impact. Latest figures reveal that the creative industries contribute $28.4 billion to the state economy, up 12% in three years.

These industries currently employ 260,000 Victorians, up 14% since 2013-14, while cultural tourism is now worth $2 billion, an increase of 88% since 2013.

The work of the new advisory group follows the landmark Creative State strategy, launched in 2016 and now in its final year.

Creative State’s 40 actions and $115 million investment has ensured Victoria’s creative and cultural offering remains the strongest in the country.

The new advisory group formally commenced in May and will play a key role in broader public and sector consultation later this year.

Victorians are invited to have thier say via the public consultation survey, open untll Friday 30 August 2019.


Story: Karen Phelan


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