The lead players on developing the business of creativity in New Zealand
What is the tangible business value that technology brings to creativity?
The answer isn’t black and white, but what is clear is that businesses and governments around the world, and that includes in New Zealand, are digitising their creative thinking to achieve significant economic growth. At the point at which the arts, business and technology intersect, is the digital creative industries. Technology has fundamentally shifted the creative playing field through innovation, emerging tools, increased accessibility and responsive design.
Developing New Zealand’s creative economy
The recognition of the revenue potential of the creative industries began in Britain with the 1990s. The UK government led the way with its ‘Cool Britannia’ policies that harnessed creativity in order to drive wealth. The Cool Britannia vision focused on nurturing cities where artists, musicians, writers, movie makers and actors could thrive in ‘creative clusters’, sharing and growing ideas and projects. In 2018, when Britpop and Young British Artists were full bore, the cultural sector – the country’s successful creative industries contributed £111.7 billion to the UK economy – the equivalent of £306 million every day.
Parallel to the recognition of the creative industries movement in the UK, Richard Florida, an American academic, heralded as an economic guru, was touring the world promoting creativity as a source of economic wealth. In his 2002 book The Rise of the Creative Class, Florida claimed that in order to regenerate cities, governments needed to focus on attracting and retaining high-quality creative talent to cities, rather than focusing on building infrastructure projects such as sports stadiums, iconic buildings, and shopping malls. Around that time he also came to New Zealand to meet Peter Jackson to discuss the cultural power of the Lord of the Rings as a drawcard for talent.
Since then successive New Zealand governments have recognised that creativity generates jobs, strengthens the economy, and builds the social health of communities. The New Zealand government has planned a joined-up approach alongside industry to deliver on an action plan to allow New Zealand’s creatives and creative businesses to generate high-value, often-digital products and services that are at the forefront of innovation.
WeCreate is a New Zealand government initiative to nurture and demonstrate the real value of the creative sector. It is an alliance of 20 members of the creative industries that was formed to represent, champion and foster the sector. Currently the sectors who are represented include the television, film, publishing, and music industries. Foundational members include Recorded Music NZ, The NZ Screen Association, the Publishers Association of NZ (PANZ), Copyright Licensing NZ, , the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA), and the Artists Alliance.
A recent report from WeCreate shows that the publishing, music, television and film sectors collectively contribute more than $3.5 billion to the local economy.
On top of the traditional members of the creative sector WeCreate is includes the gaming and photography industries. It is widely recognised that the gaming industry is the most profitable element of the creative industries in New Zealand, and New Zealand has a high number of game developers per capita. According to participants in a recent Creative New Zealand and New Zealand on Air survey, video game development is the most lucrative creative endeavour with gamers earning an average of $61,500 p/a.
Creative New Zealand (previously the Arts Council) is fully on board with developing the creative sector having announced plans for funding that focus on flexibility and sustainability in supporting digitalisation in modern models of creative business and arts practice. This initiative has been discussed for some time but has recently become critical as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic. Awards like Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2020 also celebrate the contribution of individuals, groups and organisations in providing access to and inclusion in the arts.
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Digitisation – joined-up creative work
Central to the success of creativity is joined up thinking and working – and this is where technology – and therefore the business of technology – plays a key role in progressive blueprints for the future. Traditionally creative clusters were associated with inner city hubs where creatives collected and exchanged ideas in spaces such as BizDojo. Now creatives are no longer confined to working in cities. Technology is allowing creatives to emerge from their garages and, regardless of geographical location, form loose creative clusters and work globally. Using virtual platforms creatives can engage with like-minded peers. This can be seen in the music and audio community with programmes like NZ On Air’s Access Media Arts Access Aotearoa’s platform. Not only can technology act as enabler in the sector, it provides opportunities to make the creative industries more sustainable. In a recent Creative NZ and NZ on Air survey more than half (57%) the creatives who participated struggle to achieve a viable income.
For our economic growth innovations with digital and newer technologies combined with our creative spirit are driving innovations ranging from the highly solution focused – such as this technologist’s take on dynamic Covid 19 tracking – to the more theatrical takes on human experience – such as this immersive exploration of an iconic New Zealand identity.
Kiwis are highly creative, and technology enablers are allowing innovation at a scale that promotes profitability and innovation in the creative sector.
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