The David versus Goliath battle faced by Australian creative industries and what they might do to win (Part 4: The Needs of the Australian Creative Industries Sector)

In this next section, we examine the needs of the Australian creative industries, with a particular emphasis on the arts and cultural sector.  We do this with a view to seeing how the business models explored in Part 3 might fit with the needs of our sector in Part 5 of this series.

This is the fourth section in a series of blogposts that examines ramifications of the small size of most Australia creative businesses and explores strategies for resolving issues raised here.

In the previous blogs, we explored:

Part 1: We’re Tiny. The tiny size of Australian creative industries

Part 2: New vs Old Paradigms

Part 3: Business Models for the New Paradigm

In future blogs, we will look at:

Part 5: How a new media model solution might look in the arts and cultural sector

 

Part 4: The Needs of the Australian Creative Industries Sector

Needs of the Australian creative industries with a particular focus upon the arts and cultural sector.

At BYP Group, we research and consult extensively with the Australian creative industries including the arts and cultural sector. We hear perspectives from the funders as well as from the artists and arts organisations that create the art.

Below we outline some of the major issues most frequently raised to us by members of this community over recent years.

  1. Sustainable careers for artists at all stages of practice including related issues e.g.:
    1. Business skills especially
    2. Marketing and communications skills to grow and access audience
    3. Awareness of technology and its impacts on their practice
    4. IP monetization
  2. Affordability of space especially
    1. Space for developmental and experimental work
  3. Professional and creative networks that endure beyond a funding grant or period
    1. Difficulty in career progression from early to mid, mid to established.
    2. Cross-over into the private sector for
      1. ‘Embedded’ work
      2. Service contract work e.g. design, innovation, branding, production skills
  4. Diversity of access to the arts especially target groups such as
    1. Gender
    2. ATSI
    3. CALD
    4. Disability
  5. Funding for multi-disciplinary arts that may fall between traditional funding criteria
  6. Increased Strategic impact of funding through e.g.
    1. Increased co-ordination and collaboration between government entities
  7. Lack of economies of scale and the problems associated with this e.g.
    1. Lack of creative clusters and hubs to help increase scale
    2. Activation of the night-time economy
    3. Too much time spent on non-creative activities e.g.
    4. Office management and space maintenance
    5. Marketing and promotion
  8. An environment that generates collaboration, peer learning and cross-pollination
  9. Creative spaces which creates a sense of community and has its own identity
  10. International engagement frequently due to
    1. Lack of scale to overcome e.g.
    2. Tyranny of distance
    3. Insurance and coverage costs (lack of scale)
    4. Lack of familiarity with foreign cultures
    5. Lack of Australian arts industry ‘brand awareness’ in the international marketplace
  11. Public visibility of the arts, especially at the independent and small organisation level especially
  12. Showcasing opportunities, preferably before an international audience

The above is by no means a conclusive list of the sector’s needs.  There is also some double-up in needs, which illustrates the pervasiveness of the issue of scale described in earlier sections of this blog.

Comparison of independent screen media content creator to independent artist

In the independent screen sector we see many overlapping issues.  Some interesting exceptions include:

  • Awareness of technology and its impacts on their practice
  • Diversity of access to the arts especially target groups such as
    1. Gender
    2. ATSI
    3. CALD
    4. Disability
  • An environment that generates collaboration, peer learning and cross-pollination
  • International engagement frequently due to
    1. Lack of scale to overcome e.g.
      1. Tyranny of distance
      2. Insurance and coverage costs
  • Awareness of technology and its impacts on their practice

As discussed earlier, media was like the ‘canary in the coalmine’ of Disruption.  Consequently, it tends to lead those arts and cultural sectors that are not easily digitized in nature.

This is a generalization and it is common for incumbents and independents alike not to understand the new paradigm.  Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney mentioned in Part 2, appears to have made a sudden and drastic strategic turn-around in recent times. He has decided to pivot his multi-billion dollar organisation into become an online aggregator and distributor to rival Netflix.

The bottom end of the screen sector has benefitted the independent screen practitioner to get their work produced and seen, frequently before an international audience e.g. on Facebook, YouTube

  • Diversity of access to the arts especially target groups such as
    1. Gender
    2. ATSI
    3. CALD
    4. Disability

We have observed in our research the success of YouTubers from CALD backgrounds such as Rackaracka, Superwog, Natalie Tran, John Luc (MyChonny), et al.  We have also seen the success of Aboriginal Australian dance group, Djuki Mala (formerly the Chooky Dancers) which rode off the back of their viral dance clip.  The Katering Show is an example of an all-female cast YouTube hit that has ‘crossed-over’ onto broadcast television.

The above suggests to us that the new media paradigm has been beneficial to diversity and access for these target groups.  This is probably due to the way the Internet has allowed smaller, independent creatives to bypass traditional chokepoints of production and distribution.

  • An environment that generates collaboration, peer learning and cross-pollination

The Internet allows rapid transfer of ideas and collaboration especially in digital-only content.  We note the example in games of Australian sound designers, KPow! Audio who collaborated with content creators around the world to help make the award winning Banner Saga game series.

Still, there may be even more benefits to be had from physical spaces for collaboration, especially across disciplines.

  • International engagement frequently due to
    1. Lack of scale to overcome e.g.
      1. Tyranny of distance

There are clearly still issues of scale that we have identified for independent screen practitioners above. However, the international nature of the Internet has enabled independent Australian screen practitioners (such as those mentioned above) to reach international audiences.  Whereas in the past they may have served only a small, unsustainable audience within Australia, now a small percentage of a global audience can prove sustainable.

 

Comparison Thought Experiment

At this point, we invite readers to consider the online profile of an Australian artist you know to that of the example OOCC’s above.

Even the unscaled OOCC example we show above has over 60,000 YouTube subscribers.  Are there many Australian non-screen artists you know of with that kind of online reach?

Regardless of obvious reasons for this disparity – it is a full-time creative pursuit and enterprise in itself to produce any type of art at the highest levels, (this is also true of the amount and quality of video content to become a successful YouTuber) – wouldn’t it be good if Australian artists couldhave this kind of online reach?

In the next part of our series, we seek to apply the new paradigm screen business model in a manner that might assist Australian independent artists.