Creative Business Wrap – July 2022

Is there a future for Australian children’s TV? 

Only seven local children’s television shows went into production in Australia in FY21, half the number of the previous year. An article by Meg Watson in the SMH quotes a Screen Australia report which says the decline in production is a consequence of the previous government’s policy change in 2020, when quotas for the creation of children’s content were scrapped for commercial broadcasters and streamers. Industry insiders are calling on the new government to act quickly, whether it is extending funding arrangements for the Australian Children’s Television Fund and Screen Australia, securing budgets for children’s TV at the ABC and/or a sub-quota for local kids’ TV on streaming services.

Meanwhile, homegrown animation Bluey gets another shout out for dealing with social issues. Susan Healy’s article in The Conversation reflects on how the subject of infertility within extended families is sensitively incorporated into the episode “Onesies” which hints at the sadness of Bluey’s Aunty Brandy who doesn’t have kids of her own. Another argument for why we should be backing quality, relevant content for children and young people.

Using pop culture to teach economics

Monash University School of Business has identified how the enormously popular Netflix series Squid Game can be used to teach game theory, one of the most challenging concepts in introductory economics. In the paper Using Squid Game to Teach Game Theory, Associate Professor Wayne Geerling and his co-authors explain how the life-or-death games at the centre of the show’s plot can teach strategy, collusion, co-operation, risk aversion, information asymmetry and many other real-world business and economics applications. “Players in Squid Game also serve as a metaphor for modern-day companies, who have to interact, adapt, think in real time and make interactive decisions in strategic situations, often without the advantage of full information,” says Geerling. No doubt many students will find binge watching the series more engaging than reading the economics textbook or enduring the PowerPoint slides. Squid Game is too grim for me, though. I wonder if Bluey has a relevant episode that I could watch instead?

Return of the King

Bendigo Art Gallery’s sold-out Elvis exhibition has delivered a huge economic and social benefit to the regional city.  I was one of the 24,000 visitors who journeyed interstate specifically to see this amazing collection that included loads of Elvis’s stage outfits, Priscilla’s wedding dress, telegrams from Col. Tom Parker, a bright red MG convertible from the movie Blue Hawaii and (my favourite) his federal narcotics agent badge given to him by President Nixon. As reported on the ABC, more than 200,000 people visited the exhibition making it the gallery’s most successful show to date. 86% of ticket holders lived outside of Bendigo and more than 65,000 visitors to the exhibition were first-time visitors to the gallery.

While at the cinemas, you can catch Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, which is doing great business at the Australian box office. Just why is Elvis everywhere at the moment? The Australian ran an interesting WSJ piece about the concerted effort being made to reinvigorate the Elvis brand for a younger audience, and thus increase its annual revenue from its current $US80M per year. As a spokesperson for the licence holders says, “This should be the best year Elvis has ever had in the history of Elvis Presley.” Not bad for someone who has been dead for 45 years (or has he?).

Can 3D printed houses help the housing crisis? 

The shortage of affordable housing is all over the news. I was wondering what innovators in architecture and design are coming up with, and found a few articles about proposed 3D printed housing projects in Australia, but this one in archdaily about Project Milestone in the Netherlands is one that has actually been completed and has tenants. The benefits of 3D printing include speed of construction, ability to replicate the design and a reduction of waste as the printer uses the exact amount of concrete required. The first of five homes in Eindhoven is designed to look like a boulder, has an area of 94m2 and is opened with an app, rather than a key.

One of the project partners, Investor Vesteda will buy the houses and the land, as part of their housing portfolio and will rent out the houses for €800 per month. It will be interesting to see if 3D printed houses in Australia can actually be more affordable for owners and renters and if the design can be more aesthetically interesting than the Dutch ‘boulder” design, which reminds me of the Big Potato at Robertson, NSW (recently named Australia’s worst “big thing”).

A round of applause for the “swing” 

The Age has a piece about the critical role of the “swing“ in the cast of musical productions. To keep the continuity of shows in these unpredictable times, the swing needs to know all the lines, all the steps and how the whole show fits together and be ready to go on stage at short notice to fill in if a cast member becomes injured or ill. Audiences are not always aware of the huge responsibility of the swing, though some swings have their own fan base who will book their tickets just to catch their favourite swing in a lead role. It sounds extremely stressful and as Emma Hawthorne who is a swing on 9 to 5 The Musical says, “it’s not a job for people who don’t like change”. Emma also covers the lead role for Caroline O’Connor and has had to replace her several times. I’m in awe of the job these talented and hardworking people do both on and off stage and a little bit chuffed to see Emma being profiled since she hails from my hometown.

Digitally disconnect for more creative thinking

No matter what job we do, the impact of technology on our brains can be alarming but there are steps we can take to be more productive and creative, according to episode 2 of the ABC series Our Brain. The four horsemen of the digital apocalypse: deluge, distraction, dementia and deduction combine to overload and overwhelm our brains, addict us to distractions, deteriorate our memory and fool us into thinking we are making choices. No wonder we all feel so tired.

Importantly, creative thinking happens when we are in a daydreaming or default mode, and to achieve this we have to digitally disconnect. We can build up our cognitive reserve by engaging in mental, physical and social activities every day and using the 2+5+7 strategy: Set aside two 45-minute time slots for deep thinking (and turn the notifications off), take five brain breaks of five minutes each during the day, and notice or experience seven new things each day.

Ready for a break? Your five minutes start now!

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