Griffith University has moved to cement its position as one of Australia’s top creative arts universities with a new program focused on the business side of the arts.
The Centre for Creative Industries opened at the Gold Coast campus in November last year with a remit to develop the discipline of arts entrepreneurship.
The first cohort of students is currently at work towards the centre’s flagship qualification – the new Bachelor of Creative Industries – and already plans for startups and creative business ventures are bubbling away among the group.
The centre’s founding director is Associate Professor Christopher Klopper, an expert in arts education who wants to instil the entrepreneurial drive of the business world in his arts-focused students.
“Entrepreneurship and innovation are common terms in business, but the concept of arts sector entrepreneurship is relatively new,” he says.
“This program is designed to attract students who aspire to be an enabler or producer – rather than a performer – in a creative career.”
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Majors include drama, screen media development, digital arts and interactive storytelling, plus postgraduate specialisations such as festival curation, arts and culture leadership, and technical production.
Klopper says the centre equips students with a mindset to leverage the creative arts to create viable business models, rather than rely on philanthropy or grant funding.
“The European model of arts funding is based around philanthropy and grant funding, but that doesn’t really apply in Australia,” he says.
“We’re teaching our future arts entrepreneurs not to wait for a grant, but rather to generate viable businesses associated with the creative industries.”
There are no formal lectures within the degree; Klopper says for millennials, learning has become a social experience best conducted within small groups.
First-year student Brodie Cornish, 20, is also the local assistant to US-based On Set Coaching, a screen performance consultancy engaged by several major Queensland-shot films.
She moved from Brisbane to the Gold Coast to pursue her qualification, which she’ll use to learn how a creative business based in Australia, rather than overseas, is best structured.
Her classmate Joshua Tuning, 23, has already founded the Griffith University Photography Club, and is aiming to have a startup running by the end of the year – a platform that promotes and co-ordinates on-campus speakers.
“In the US, college speakers draw big audiences, but the idea isn’t yet well supported out here so I’m hoping to fill that gap,” he says.
Key to Klopper’s long-term strategy for the centre is a deepening of connectivity between the university and local creative industries.
Parts of the Creative Industries degree curriculum, says Klopper, were formulated in consultation with the Gold Coast’s arts and culture sector, and industry professionals regularly conduct guest lectures.
“We took feedback from the sector on draft program ideas and structuring our industry learning experiences, and leveraged contacts across the city to engage with artists and practitioners,” he says.
Students must complete several months of industry learning experience throughout their degrees.
Current students already embedded with partner organisations such as Matt Ward Entertainment (producers of the upcoming HOTA season of Wicked), Bleach*, Blues on Broadbeach and Australian National Events (producers of Dalby’s Big Skies Festival and Cooly Rocks On).
“Our students are not simply “dropped in” to an internship,” says Klopper, “they’re equipped first with an understanding of organisational culture and how professional goals in the creative industries are set and achieved.”
Klopper says the Centre for Creative Industries allows its industry partners to “future-proof” their workforce.
“These employers know best what our creative economies need, and by working with us, they have the opportunity to mold their future workforce,” says Klopper.
And for students, the degree prepares them to find a place in a rapidly evolving creative industries sector.
“Some of our students will in 5 or 10 years probably be doing jobs that don’t now exist,” says Klopper.
“But as long as our graduates have that entrepreneurial mindset – and a passion for the arts – their careers are future-proofed whether they work locally or worldwide.”