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Relative Creative

Indiana Chataway

Relative Creative: designing the future

Samantha Morris | February 2019

During the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and its arts and culture program Festival 2018, two Gold Coasters were making serious impressions on passers by… literal impressions in the sand, to be exact.

Carrying visual messages about sustainability and climate change, ‘See Change Sand Tracks’ showcased the creative mobilisation tactics used by local designers and strategists Tristan Schultz and Bec Barnett, who together form Relative Creative.

Now their practice is set to explode with a triennial grant from the City of Gold Coast. The Arts Organisations Triennial Grants Program supports the continued growth of the sector, building the capacity of arts organisations to delivery high-quality cultural products for the community. In total, nine Gold Coast arts and culture organisations will share $1.8 million over the next three years.

Bec and Tristan say the funding program shows how the City is continuing the work that was started in the lead-up to Festival 2018.

“There’s a risk sometimes that arts and culture might flat-line post a major event,” they told We Are Gold Coast.

“This grant doesn’t just maintain momentum but it provides a few years of certainty. This stability within the arts and culture sector can’t be underestimated and in many ways provides a level of security that does allow us to keep pushing boundaries with our creative practice.”

The Relative Creative duo plan to push those boundaries via their Design Lab. Specifically, they’ll be using the money to help people think, talk and mobilise their social, environmental and economic futures through collabs, online design resources, workshops, exhibitions, art shows and forums.

“All of this will be guided by the Design Lab environment and an annual Gold Coast City Futures theme,” they said.

Futures discourse recognises that design plays a critical role in supporting communities in understanding, responding to and adapting for the future challenges we face.

“Operating the program through a focus on ‘futures’ is one of the unique aspects of our practice,” Bec and Tristan said.

“This focus will help place the Gold Coast as an important and valued hub for critical and community oriented design practice that helps show the value of design in supporting the development of new services, improving everyday life, contributing to environmental sustainability and ensuring our cities are sustainable, healthy, safe and dynamic.”

Alongside that community impact, Bec and Tristan say is the impact that three years of funding certainty has on their practice.

“The biggest impact is that it frees up some of our creative time for doing work that is meaningful and beneficial for the City but not necessarily commercial in other ways,” they said.

“Private clients are much less likely to pay design practices to do big picture, strategic foresight and speculative futures thinking.”

“The funding will provide us the time and space to really focus on and develop this side of our practice.”

The grant also means Relative Creative can continue to develop and run kids workshops such as their Kids Who Care and Repair series.

 

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