Creative Business Wrap – July 2023

The new financial year started with me juggling running a business from home and supervising the kids‚Äô school holiday activities. Fun but exhausting! Mostly exhausting. ūüėČ

I did take time one sunny winter afternoon out to stroll around the grounds of Bundanon, taking in the sight of the award-winning accommodation building ‚ÄúThe Bridge”, as well as the beautiful views of the Shoalhaven River that inspired Arthur Boyd and many other artists. I found The Bridge to be striking without being disruptive, it complements the Art Museum which is hidden and protected by the hill. Unfortunately, the road to the Boyd Homestead was blocked by a fallen tree so that will have to wait for another time.
Here‚Äôs your monthly round-up of news and resources that I‚Äôve found useful this month, with a focus on opportunities ‚Äď including a couple of opportunities for artists and creatives to engage with Sharpe Advisory directly.¬†Enjoy!¬†



AI: more questions than answers

Everyone’s talking about generative AI that can create text, images and videos but there is much more to get our collective heads around. For an extensive discussion on AI and possible future scenarios, I’d recommend this conversation between entrepreneur and author of the Diary of a CEO podcast Steven Bartlett and Mo Gawdat, former GoogleX Chief Business Officer and author of the book Scary Smart. 

Gawdat claims that the AI emergency is more critical than climate change and advocates taxing AI developers up to 98% as a strategy for governments to slow down the growth of AI and compensate the huge numbers of people who will potentially lose their jobs. He says, ‚Äúwe can regulate AI until it gets to the point where it is smarter than us‚ÄĚ, but suggests this point is closer than we imagine, within the next few years. ¬†It‚Äôs a provocative and sometimes uncomfortable two hours but well worth the investment of your time.

Copyright pain for authors

While on the topic of AI, and it is hard to get away from it at the moment, authors are taking up the fight for copyright against generative AI. According to¬†this article in Smart Company, Three American authors are suing Open AI and Meta, claiming that Open AI‚Äôs ChatGPT and Meta‚Äôs LLaMA were fed datasets that included illegal copies of the authors‚Äô works that were scraped from shadow libraries such as Z-Library and Bibliotik. Artists and photographers in the US are also challenging how generative AI platforms use their works to ‚Äútrain‚ÄĚ AI.

Australian authors are concerned that their already meagre incomes could be further eroded with a survey by the Australian Society of Authors (ASA)¬†finding that 74% expressed ‚Äúsignificant concern‚ÄĚ that generative AI tools were a threat to writing and illustrating¬†professionals and 51% also thought that AI would have a negative impact on their future income.

Listening to communities to build entrepreneurship

But enough technophobia for one newsletter. Here’s an antidote – a friend recently pointed me towards¬†this TED talk¬†by Dr. Ernesto Sirolli.¬†With a magnetic storytelling style, Sirolli draws from his experience working in developing countries and international aid programs, and with engaging with aspiring entrepreneurs worldwide. He emphasizes the importance of listening and empowering local talent, debunking the myth of the “heroic entrepreneur” and instead advocating for a more collaborative approach. Sirolli’s anecdotes highlight the impact that can be achieved when communities are supported to identify and harness their own passions and skills, fostering sustainable economic growth within local ecosystems.

A bit old now (it dates from 2012) but I came away from it with a determination to listen more and build consensus where possible. Well worth 17 minutes of your time.

New Australian Films

Screen Australia has put out a powerful trailer to promote five new Australian Films “opening in cinemas this July and August. The campaign is a collaboration between Screen Australia and distributors Roadshow Films, Madman Entertainment, Maslow Entertainment and Mushroom Pictures who are hoping this campaign will be as successful as the Summer of Cinema campaign which saw Australian Films take the top three box office spots in 2021.

An independent film that took ten years to make captured my attention. The Message of the Lyrebird explores scientific and cultural perspectives on the lyrebird’s amazing song and dance and the extent to which they learn sounds from each other and from humans. Director and producer Mark Pearce has also used an unusual business model-  you can pay to view via their website, and the funds raised will be used to make the film available for public on-demand streaming content for Australian and New Zealand schools, libraries, educational institutions, and individuals, with an accompanying study guide.


  • Business coaching for City of Sydney creatives

Are you a creative professional living, working or presenting or running a creative organisation in the City of Sydney? Sharpe Advisory, in partnership with¬†Brand X, is offering free business coaching sessions (thanks to funding from the City of Sydney) which are tailored to each attendee and can cover topics such as adapting to new business conditions, improving income generation, considering different business models and new technologies to increase productivity and overcoming challenges. You can¬†book here¬†for our August and September sessions – and look out for our 4 roundtable discussions coming up later in FY24. There’s a small booking fee to pay, refundable after attendance at each session.

  • Apply for fundraising programs

Applications are now open for¬†MATCH Lab¬†and¬†Plus1¬†funding from Creative Australia to build fundraising skills by providing dollar-for-dollar matched funding for fundraising campaigns. MATCH Lab is designed for independent artists and collectives with matched funding of up to $10,000 and includes a place at a two-day Raising Money for Your Art Professional Development clinic. Recipients of Plus1 will receive matched funding of up to $25,000 or up to $50,000 depending on the size of the organisation. I’ve got a long history with MATCH Lab having facilitated the clinic that goes along with it for the last 7 years (with my colleague Caroline Sharpen) and am looking forward to it again in October. Applications close August 1.

  • Free online course on how to win new business

The NSW Small Business Commissioner has produced a¬†free online course¬†that can help you to win new business through¬†explaining the contract pitching process, sharing tips and insights. It’s available any time and only takes 20-40 minutes. Nothing ground breaking but a good reminder of the basics.

Things to do this month

Three timely steps to take this month to help grow your business.

  1. New financial year! Put in place a good plan for winning business in the first quarter. Explore funding opportunities and get your year off to a good start. 
  2. Performance review time? Do a check of what market salary benchmarks are. This gives you a firm basis for pay rise conversations.
  3. With staff shortages still impacting many businesses, consider how existing staff can upskill. What skills do you want to embed? Put together a training schedule in consultation with your staff.

Out-horse your email – only available in Iceland

Are you guilty of checking your emails when you are on holidays? I just had to share this clever ad for Visit Iceland which explains how you can get an Icelandic horse to write your out of office messages.

Forget AI, let’s go with the horse drawn solution!