Our People | Economy
How can we “Get Creative” in our Economy?
“Christchurch has much to celebrate – but what next?:
Modern-day Christchurch draws on our city’s place in history.
As the home of women’s suffrage, Antarctic explorers and innovative pioneers, Christchurch is a city that embraces change and resilience in the face of adversity and opportunity.
Yet are we doing enough to stamp our place on the world stage?
For our city to be a compelling and welcoming place to visit, we all need to truly believe that we live in the best place in the world and share a clear vision and plan for our future.
By future plan, I mean understanding what sets Christchurch apart from the crowd in an increasingly competitive market, and then focusing our infrastructure development, events and city profile to stimulate transformation for a better Christchurch.
To do this we need to collaborate, to understand our key points of difference, and to leverage the opportunities that we have in hand today to develop a plan that we all own.
So, how are we tracking in creating a destination that is deserving of increased visitor numbers, students and investors?
There is much to celebrate as these large-scale projects provide compelling, welcoming and memorable visits to our city and give confidence to investors and entrepreneurs.
But what comes next?
If our infrastructure enables our city to grow, then the experiences we offer shape us as a destination, and our welcoming residents make us a place visitors remember.
We need to look at the products and services required to wrap around these infrastructure projects that help deliver a 21st century experience.
We need to be looking at tourism experiences, and transport and retail opportunities to cater for these visitors, but it needs to be done in a coordinated and planned way.
We know tourism is New Zealand’s largest export market, yet the impact can be both positive and negative.
Christchurch city – through Christchurch International Airport and ChristchurchNZ – is signed up to Tourism Industry Aoteroa’s sustainability programme to ensure that tourism delivers positive economic, social and environmental outcomes for everyone.
We also know that to be a successful city we need to ignite the spirit of people through events, sporting fixtures, festivals and concerts.
If we can keep our momentum going, we will secure our place on the world stage.
We just need to do it together and have a clear, collaborative plan that is compelling, accessible, interesting, welcoming and memorable. One that grows the economy for all.”
“Digital technology is enabling a makers’ renaissance of entrepreneurial small home-based businesses across the remote north of Australia.
While the tyranny of distance and costs of freight are still major challenges, new social media-savvy businesses are utilising new, more affordable technologies to make and promote handmade items for localised direct markets.
University of South Australia professor of cultural studies Susan Luckman is working on a four-year Australian Research Council discovery project looking at new online distribution models for creative micro-enterprises, called Promoting the Making Self in the Creative Micro-economy.
Dr Luckman said laser cutting, one of the most widely used new kinds of digital-making technologies, was one that easily translated into a home, men’s shed or makers’ space, allowing the kind of intricate and delicate customised cutting that enabled creative business to occur on a small scale.
‘It’s a way of enabling a return of some degree of manufacturing-level productivity in regional areas that don’t traditionally have that kind of infrastructure.’
‘The internet also means that we don’t actually have to be physically present to be able to find and buy, so that’s another great way in which, no matter where you are in the world, you can be part of this kind of makers’ renaissance.’
Dr Luckman said women were over-represented in the case studies she researched, often starting up a business after having children.
‘It’s a way of maintaining a foot in the professional world or in their own business identity and doing something to bring in a top-up income,’ she said.
Using Facebook, Instagram and email, small business owners such as Ms McLean and Ms Randall can easily communicate with clients and suppliers, receiving orders and doing online marketing.
In her research, Dr Luckman found many of the makers were selling direct, via old-school word-of-mouth or markets, largely due to postage costs.
‘Often the internet is spoken about in terms of the possibilities for distribution, but most makers I talk to around Australia will use it to bring in supplies, especially if they are in a remote regional area like the Pilbara,’ she said.
‘But the actual selling often still occurs primarily locally and then on top of that you can get a little bit of additional income through selling online around the world.
The local in these economies is still really important and I think it feeds into the whole desire for people to go back to feeling a sense of community.
The overall sort of slow craft or slow-living kind of ideal around this is one that’s not just about the making, it’s about being part of a bigger community as well.'”
Why do we need to “Get Creative” with our Economy?
“Why art and culture contribute more to an economy than growth and jobs:
There is growing international interest in the potential of the cultural and creative industries to drive sustainable development and create inclusive job opportunities.
Cultural Times, the first global map of the cultural and creative industries, which was recently released, acknowledges the societal value of arts and culture.
Undeniably, culture and creativity have been the cement that binds together not only hearts and souls, but entire societies and nations.
The report helps demonstrate the value of arts and culture. It provides a good rationale for government support of arts and culture, especially in developing countries where there are so many other demands on the public purse.
The industries are also a potentially important contributor to social cohesion and nation-building through the promotion of intercultural dialogue, understanding and collaboration.
These are part of a range of spin-offs that artistic production can offer, beyond the straight “instrumental value” – those values that, while undeniably important, are essentially spin-offs of the main point of artistic production.
The ‘intrinsic’ values and aims of culture, ‘art for art’s sake’, are things like: to entertain, to delight, to challenge, to give meaning, to interpret, to raise awareness, and to stimulate.
These non-market values are difficult to measure in monetary terms, but are just as important as the instrumental values.
While jobs can be created by many economic activities, what other kinds of production can generate these same intrinsic values?
Cultural capital is one. This is defined as the sum total of a country’s wealth or stock of art, heritage and other kind of cultural expression. Like other kinds of capital it needs to be invested in – otherwise it will depreciate and be devalued over time.
Public and private sponsorship and support of the arts is particularly important for those producers whose main focus is intrinsic value. Such cultural production is often challenging or disturbing and, while it has a big impact on collective thinking, may not be a financial or market success or may be distributed for free. Think, for example, of the role played by music in the fight against apartheid.
While recognising and supporting the very important role that the cultural and creative industries play in the economy, I would argue that we shouldn’t lose sight of the unique intrinsic values that they generate. This includes the reflection and shaping of national and individual identities.”
“Craft resurgence in economic recession:
Recession takes people in different ways – most of them bad – but it’s an ill wind.
The crafts industry – if that’s not a contradiction in terms – is resurgent, with the latest booms in handmade items occurring in vintage clothes, home cheese-making and book-binding.
Even the humble thrift shop has had to step up, with a surge in “up-cycling” old clothes.
What once seemed a passing fashion, when the young appropriated the once-naff woolly knitted hat, and even took to wearing their nanas’ tea cosies, has burgeoned into a revived craft movement that has both ideological and fiscal origins.
Paradoxically, although craft has thrift at its heart, and is in itself a rejection of big business, it is one of the few big growth sectors in the economy.
Recession might seem to be the obvious impetus, but a number of other factors are feeding into the handmade comeback. Handmade organiser Melanie Walker, of Avenues events management, says the recession is a major factor – ‘I don’t think there’s any doubt that what’s happened has changed the way we think about the world’ – but there was already a growing tendency for people to seek out personal, intimate, creative activities to counterpoint their working lives, which typically are spent working with impersonal technology. The credit crisis redoubled that appetite as people reassessed their consumer habits and also looked for more meaningful experiences than shopping for goods.
‘At the same time, people have become much more conscious of green issues – not just throwing things away, but perhaps finding new ways to use them. And there’s the idea of making something that could be passed on, that will be special.’
What can we do to “Get Creative” in our Economy?
“New Zealand culture is great at enabling creativity. Why is it so bad at helping ideas spread?:
As a nation, we pride ourselves on our creativity, but when it comes to translating great ideas into successful businesses, New Zealand is still trailing behind. Colenso co-founder and serial entrepreneur Mike Hutcheson looks at what’s going wrong.
I believe innovation to be the realisation of creativity, but innovation is a two-sided coin: one side invention, the other implementation. It’s the implementation part where New Zealanders fail.
We are certainly a creative lot. Per head of population we are fifth in the world in the number of local patents we file, and we’re also fifth in the world for dollars per capita spent on Research and Development.
But we are only 23rd in global competitiveness and 22nd in filing US patents; we have only a 22% conversion rate in taking local patents international. By comparison, Finland has 100% conversion, Denmark and Singapore 80% and Ireland 50%.
We rank 6th in the world at publishing high-tech research reports, but only 63rd, behind Senegal and Bulgaria, at actual high-tech manufactured output.
There seems to be a huge disparity between what we New Zealanders conceive or recognise as good ideas and our ability to build scale and take them further afield. The question is, why?
Anecdotes about Kiwis’ ability to make something clever out of number eight wire abound.
As part of my thesis research, I recently made a video documentary on the alchemy of creativity in New Zealand business. I interviewed people who are well qualified to shed light on how Kiwi ingenuity finds its place in this world of rapid and disruptive change.
Throughout these interviews I explored three basic lines of enquiry: What is creativity in a business context, how is it fostered, and can a particular Kiwi approach be identified that can be translated into an ongoing competitive advantage.
So what did I take from all these interviews that will enable us to box above our weight on the international stage in future?
It seems that as generalists we’re good at ideas and invention, but not so good at innovation, implementing and building those ideas into scalable businesses that create jobs.
We don’t have a mortgage on intelligence or creativity, nor are we as rich in resources as many other countries, but what we do have is going for us is attitude.
We have a certain cultural fearlessness. This does not indicate an excess of courage or bravado but perhaps, because we live in a country with no natural predators, we approach things with an absence of fear.
We are not intimidated by power or position; we don’t self-select into failure by saying we can’t do it before we start. In our optimistic naivety we don’t seem to be afraid to ask questions that others wouldn’t. Whatever it is, we think we can do it, despite the odds.
But we need to back ourselves and teach Kiwis to embrace the implementation part of innovation.
It may seem counter to our visions of entrepreneurs and innovators, but my research shows that it’s good old fashioned discipline, process, and above all planning that will make the difference.
With this in mind, I’ve developed a periodic table of innovation – a model that steps innovators through the elements they need to consider and action to implement a great idea.”
“Study hubs that hold the secret to creative longevity:
When Quartz recently questioned the longevity of creativity, the publication found that ‘creativity is the engine of progress in our modern society.’ Driven by the freedom of thought, our world is heading in a promising direction.
As Idea to Value points out, ‘Creativity will be the 3rd most important work skill by 2020’; great news if you’re contemplating whether or not you should stroll down an artistic avenue. While it’s true that many people fear the technological era and its future effects on the global workforce, with artificial intelligence (AI) making its way through every aspect of society, creatives often wonder if they’ll be kicked to the curb. But many will be surprised to know that it’s actually having the opposite effect…
In its creative economy report, Nesta recently discovered that the relationship between the digital and creative realms would remain harmonious. The foundation insists that ‘creative jobs will be much more resistant to automation’, and that the technological world would trigger a lifetime of open positions. With this in mind, you’ll feel extra confident when choosing your creative discipline because you won’t need to worry about the stability of your selection.
Te Auaha, New Zealand Institute of Creativity
As New Zealand’s ‘Creative Capital’, world-famous Wellington is the perfect location for the launch of Te Auaha. At the very heart of artistic fusion, this city is home to a thriving population of ingenious innovators, including filmmakers, designers, animators, photographers, performers, artists and many more.
Wellington’s two leading Institutes of Technology, WelTec and Whitireia, have combined their resources and talents to establish this brand-new, purpose-built campus and its cutting-edge study programmes. Opening its doors to its first cohort of students in 2018, Te Auaha is thrilled to help shape New Zealand’s next generation of creative talent.
Victoria Spackman, Te Auaha’s Director, is extremely excited about the future potential of New Zealand’s brand new Institute of Creativity. ‘We’re approaching perhaps the most significant milestone of our journey – welcoming the best and brightest creative students, both from New Zealand and from overseas. I’m sure that the courses on offer, including our innovative Bachelor of Creativity degree programme, will attract the creative leaders and talented innovators who will help shape our industry’s future.'”
“Creative cities: The best places to study art and design:
Innovation and creativity are two of the most sought-after skills in today’s world. Whilst number-crunching and word-churning are valued in the workplace, the ability to think dynamically will stand long into the digital age.
A degree in design is perfect for cultivating the innovative mind needed to move society forward.
Studying design allows you to turn dynamic thinking into impactful products, from advertising to media, and electronics. You will influence the way things look, the way people interact with your products and product workings in everyday life.
‘One of the most frequently-overlooked yet crucially important elements of innovation is design. When it comes to both products and services alike, it is design that determines how the end-user will experience, interact with and generally respond to what it is that’s on offer,’ said Innovate UK.
‘It’s a process of identifying, pinpointing, exploring and ultimately understanding the needs of the user or audience in question.’
As well as choosing the right design course, the place you choose to pursue design studies is also integral to your development in the creative industries. Vibrant cities allow you to exercise what you have learnt in the real world through the projects and developments going on around you.
You can apply your theoretical knowledge to that new tower block that’s just been built, or get involved in community projects to develop new community spaces. The opportunity to collaborate with other creatives will broaden your capabilities and deepen your scope of knowledge.
Belonging to a creative culture gives you the chance to inspire and be inspired. Collaborative thinking enriches your studies, giving you more experience and developing your skill.
Studying in a creative culture doesn’t just benefit you, but also enriches the design community at large. Every industry needs fresh minds to drive growth, and the creative world is just the same. By joining an existing community, your skills help elevate new and existing projects thanks to innovative ideas.
‘Today’s world demands more than vocational training. Challenges across the ecological, social, economic and political landscapes require leaders capable of steering their respective fields into uncharted territory,’ says Douglas Easterly Head of School of Design, at Victoria University of Wellington.”
– Craft/Object Art Review 2014 | CreativeNZ | Arts Council of New Zealand
– Building a Creative Innovation Economy
– Mapping The Creative Industries: A Toolkit
– An Economic Profile of the Arts in NZ 2015 | CreativeNZ | Arts Council of New Zealand