The two-year partnership and project between Townsville City Council and James Cook University focused on key sub-sectors of the creative industries, specifically architecture, design, advertising and marketing, software and digital content and film.
The project team set out to better understand the supply of and demand for creative industries, the level of innovation in the sector, as well as what services are exported and imported.
The long-term supply of creative industries expertise is of concern. The workforce in 2016 was 2.8% of employees, down from 2.9% in 2011 and 3.0% in 2006. The city is therefore suffering a brain drain. Factors contributing to this are a softening economy since the GFC, a lack of sufficient branding and profiling of what creative services are available within the city, and relatively limited professional development opportunities compared to those in the capital cities. Many emerging creatives feel the pull of capital cities or overseas centres, where creative industries sectors are larger.
To counter this brain drain, the creative industries sector in Townsville needs to be more highly profiled and branded, while the emerging workforce needs to be presented with new opportunities that keep them in the city.
The study confirms that there is a significant loss of creative work to capital cities, online or other providers, with many major projects lost to local practitioners. During one financial year, this was calculated to be around $200 million lost via import leakage. Reasons for this included a lack of knowledge of what creative industries services are available locally, small firms being outpriced by larger businesses in the capitals, as well as a lack of coordination across the creative industries microbusinesses in Townsville in terms of tendering for larger projects.
Ultimately, there are major opportunities for the sector to contribute more significantly to the Townsville economy and towards the growth of northern Australia. This would enable the sector to provide a stronger role in the global innovation and digital futures agenda, through such methodologies as design thinking and co-creation, which have proven to be significant contributors to ideas generation and business development.
Project team: Professor Ryan Daniel, Associate Professor Katja Fleischmann, Associate Professor Riccardo Welters and Mr Simon Millcock (TCC).
This article is an update on the original abstract ‘Developing creative industries in northern Australia: a report on key developments and outcomes in the city of Townsville, North Queensland’, submitted for the 2017 Developing Northern Australia Conference.
2018 Developing Northern Australia Conference
The Developing Northern Australia Conference will be held at Alice Springs Convention Centre on Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 June 2018. This annual Conference continues to be a meeting place for those individuals, companies and government entities that are vested in progressing Northern Australia.