Creative Leadership – the SA Creative Industries Think Tank

We asked Josephine Evans, SA Chapter Councillor, Director JPE Design Studio and founder of SA Creative Industries Think Tank to talk about the formation of this advocacy channel and the importance the initiative has taken on in the current climate.

Upon joining the SA Chapter Council last year I was asked what area of advocacy I was interested in. My proposal was to explore an initiative that highlighted the profession’s collaborative attitude and ability to curate a valuable dialogue about the creative economy at a time when Arts SA had been diluted and design simply was not recognised as a creative industry. Architects, I came to discover, have been slipped into ‘DPTI delivery’ land along with the government architect. I was somewhat perplexed that we were not being considered as part of the visionary and entrepreneurial industries of the future. My objective became to change this perception, demonstrate creative leadership and have a positive impact within the broader creative industry. With support and a leap of faith from Chapter Council, the SA Creative Industries Think Tank was formed.

Within a month a core group of invited industry bodies and organisations including the DIA, AILA, all three Universities, JamFactory, Guildhouse, Samstag Museum and Urban Mind as well as Minutia Media, The Neuro Institute and H+Lab Australia met at UniSA for our first workshop. The key objectives of the group were developed together and a common purpose emerged. This was an opportunity to come together to think broadly about current issues, opportunities and to share knowledge and the global connectivity that exists throughout the creative sector. It was agreed; The purpose of the Think Tank is to advise, advocate and contribute our collective representation to highlight and grow South Australia’s creative economy. We champion a multi- disciplinary collaborative approach to enable innovative policy development and aim to highlight the unique social, economic and entrepreneurial value of the creative industries.

In October The Department of Innovation and Skills released a Creative Industries Discussion Paper, identifying this sector as one of 9 prioritised as part of Growth State, an initiative to grow the economy. This was timely and became the Think Tanks’ first project. Three planned ‘round tables’ became sixteen as DIS realised the sheer scope of the sector and our willingness to engage. We advocated for Architecture and Design to be held and it brought together many representatives from across the sector. Tony Giannone, Nicolette DiLernia and myself attended and the Institute prepared a sector strategy for architecture. The round tables brought many creative industry representatives together for the first time to share ideas and consult with government.

In December we secured a meeting with Minister Pisoni and introduced ourselves and offered an independent industry advisory role. The Creative Industries Think Tank met to develop 6 key strategies that would be the only sector strategy paper to present a collective voice. The group had expanded to 25 representatives including the Art Gallery of SA, Think Digital, Renew Adelaide and the Adelaide Design Network. The following 6 strategies were presented and each included objectives and opportunities identified as well as global benchmarks:

1. RECOGNISE ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN AS CREATIVE INDUSTRIES
2. MEASURE THE VALUE OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA’S CREATIVE ECONOMY
3. EMBED CREATIVE DESIGN THINKING INTO STRATEGY, PROCESS AND DEVELOPMENT, INCLUDING ACROSS GOVERNMENT
4. ESTABLISH SOUTH AUSTRALIA AS THE CREATIVE STATE
5. DEVELOP A CULTURE OF COLLABORATIVE GROWTH
6. FUTURE PROOF SA’S CREATIVE INDUSTRY BEYOND ELECTION CYCLES

As COVID 19 is now upon us, the interest in the group has continued to grow with a ground swell of collaborative spirit and the need to come together to share ideas and present the scale of the creative industries as a whole sector. We now have SA Film Corp, Festivals Adelaide, AIUS SA, Writers SA and Fashion represented and have invited other key industries such as Music.

Growth State has now become focused on recovery and the Think Tank are preparing a statement directly to the Premier Steven Marshall as well as being involved in his regular briefings. We are currently advocating for the creative industries to be represented on the recently convened Premier’s Industry Response Recovery Council. Looking ahead Samstag Museum plan to host our first SA Creative Industries Think Tank networking and panel discussion event in September.

The role of curator of a collective of creative representatives, educators and leaders actively contributing to the local and global creative economy, has highlighted the synergies between our industries, people and ambitions. The creative leadership demonstrated by this Institute initiative is timely in creating a forum for connectivity across disciplines and art forms to present a united and valuable creative industry sector.

Josephine Evans
SA Chapter Councillor
Director, JPE Design Studio | Image: Catherine Leo