Creative Business Wrap – April 2022

The Irish are paying artists a basic income

Interesting news from Ireland where the Arts Council has announced a 3-year pilot program that will provide €325 ($484 AUD) a week to artists and creative arts workers in an attempt to address the financial instability faced by many working in the arts. It aims to encourage entrepreneurship, facilitate risk-taking, experimentation, and skill development, increase the quality of output, and support emerging artists. 2,000 artists will be randomly selected from eligible applications. To evaluate the program, participants will be required to journal weekly and complete surveys on time spent on their art practice as well as other work, income and wellbeing.  Like many, I’ll be keeping an eye on this story to see if the idea spreads.

Shop while you read: product placement in books

No doubt you’ve noticed product placement in film and TV. Ever come across it in a novel? In 2000, novelist Fay Weldon was paid a five-figure fee to publish the The Bulgari Connection. She was contracted to mention the jewellery brand at least 12 times and was unfazed by criticism by other authors who accused her of selling out. Constance Grady’s article in Vox is generally pessimistic about writers profiting from product placement but highlights some new revenue strategies. “Authors make so little money, and most can’t afford to keep writing. This is a way for authors to profit and readers to see the author’s imagination come to life,” says fashion blogger and novelist Riley Costello who has embraced “shopfiction” as it’s known. The digital version of her novel Waiting at Hayden’s includes links to photos and videos which show the characters wearing clothes described in the text. Readers can click on those photos and videos and visit websites selling the items and Costello earns a small commission for each sale she generates. Ka-ching!

Sustainable fashion – style vs substance

Speaking of shopping, perhaps you’ve spent holiday downtime browsing Australian ethical clothing and footwear brands like (“the dream of a confused boy called Warwick who dealt with his social awkwardness by wearing cool T-shirts”), and which make ethical footwear out of sugar cane, vegan leather and lycra, wrapped in sustainable, FSC-certified recycled packaging. Sadly though, fast fashion is accelerating and although Australian consumers feel ethical purchasing is important, they are failing to follow through at the checkout. The Australian Ethical Consumer Report by Christian Aid and McCrindle found 87 percent want to change their fashion consumption habits to consume more ethically, but just 46 percent indicate they regularly purchase from ethical or sustainable brands – expense being a major barrier. And in The Myth of Sustainable Fashion in the Harvard Business Review, the former COO of Timberland pops the balloon of sustainability in the mainstream fashion industry, arguing that current industry efforts are more style than substance. But on a more optimistic note, I can recommend Good Citizens sunglasses, made from recycled drink bottles, by a company with a real commitment to untrashing the planet. (Hey, wasn’t I just talking about product placement?!)

Creative approaches to mental health

In Montreal, you can get a doctor’s prescription to visit an art museum to improve your mental health. Here in Australia, the Black Dog Institute Katherine Boydell worked with the Art Gallery of NSW on a project called Arts on Prescription where participants viewed and discussed 3 selected artworks, and followed up with a hands-on art-making activity. Unsurprisingly, the participants reported significant increases in mental health and wellbeing and in feelings and perspectives on social inclusion. Katherine Cotter from the University of Pennsylvania explained 3 reasons why visiting an art museum benefits us: It is a rewarding, positive experience, it reduces cortisol levels and it combats isolation. But don’t wait for your GP to prescribe you art – why not block out time in your diary today to get into a gallery and immerse yourself in art?

New technology meets ancient culture

Artists from the Buku-Larngaay Mulka art centre in Yirrkala, Northern Territory are being funded by venture capitalist Mark Carnegie to create and sell NFTs. They expect that the community could benefit by selling digitised artworks as NFTs and using the funds to ensure the physical work stays in the Yolngu’s art museum as well as promoting their art and stories to a wider audience. Dylan Mooney is another young Aboriginal artist promoting his work Blak Superheroes (which depicts First Nations characters in a dynamic comic-book style) as NFTs through Culture Vault (an “NFT curated platform and creative agency”). There are plenty of critics of NFTs but perhaps they offer a way around the copying of designs and misattribution of works which has been an ongoing problem in Indigenous arts. Not to mention access to markets around the world.

Netflix tanks, but look! Frocks! 

Netflix is big news this week, and this article in Bloomberg gives a great analysis of why it lost 200,000 subscribers and $54 billion of value, plus and how it might change direction by offering a lower price service with ads and cracking down on password sharing. One successful strategy that differentiates Netflix from its many competitors is that it releases all episodes at once which facilitates binge-watching. Bridgerton has been a huge success for Netflix and I haven’t binged it myself (I’m still struggling through WeWork docudrama WeCrashed on Apple TV) but I know many who can’t get enough of this thoroughly modern bodice ripper. Then there is the music, a mix of classical and lush string covers of pop icons like Madonna, Pink, and Nirvana. ABC has now published a list of all the classical covers featured in season  2. In combo, these two articles will equip you with some handy knowledge to impress your workmates over morning tea or virtual team meeting.

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