Creative Business Wrap – May 2022

Might a new government address employment precarity in creative industries?

Change is the only constant, as the old paradox goes. And so with a new federal Government gingerly taking office, expectations are high about changes to arts and cultural policy. On The Conversation, Kim Goodwin and Caitlin Vincent take the topic further than the familiar cry for more funding for the arts, to highlight the need to address the precarious employment conditions faced by many in the sector. They point out that Tony Burke, expected to hold dual portfolios of industrial relations and the arts, is well placed to tackle the problem. But why stop at just the arts? It’s a problem which spans all the creative industries – particularly screen, fashion and design – and well worth considering more broadly.

Paying authors across all formats

I’ve noticed a few authors tweeting recently that they’re looking forward to their annual return from Public Lending Rights and Educational Lending Rights, which arrives in their bank accounts about now and helps smooth over their often uneven cash flows. Authors receive credit for each copy of their book held by a library or educational organisation. What I didn’t know is that the scheme doesn’t cover e-books and audiobooks which during the pandemic have grown in popularity, with some libraries citing an 80% increase in e-borrowing. Nick Miller in the SMH quoted authors Marcus Zusak and Nick Earls on the impact of this annual income boost which allows them to invest time in their own writing. The Australian Society of Authors is continuing to lobby for the scheme to be extended to e-books and audiobooks which seems to me to be a fair way for the government to support Australian writers to continue producing work in the future.

New books from friends of ours!

I’m very excited about two new books recently released by long standing Sharpe Advisory friends and collaborators, Nigel Featherstone and Jackie Bailey. Nigel’s new book is The Heart is a Little Wild Thing and is a captivating story about taking on familial responsibility, personal discovery and new love all at the same time. You can read more about Nigel and his work in this Canberra Times article where – for better or worse – he let them photograph him wearing a lizard. I kid you not!

Jackie’s debut novel – an exercise in autofiction – is The Eulogy. I can’t wait to read it, it looks like a very personal and moving story. Jackie has been out and about, talking about it at The Sydney Writers’ Festival and shortly at the South Coast Writers Festival. Two great books to curl up with as the weather gets colder.

Designing virtual buildings on virtual land

Are there opportunities for architects in the Metaverse? This article says, oh yes.

In the virtual world of Decentraland, 16m2 plots of “land” can be bought and sold for NFTs. Only 90,000 plots are available and are being bought by businesses like JP Morgan and Sotheby’s who want digital versions of their bricks and mortar. Specialists in virtual architecture like Voxel are taking advantage of the creative freedoms in this realm where there are no planning authorities, no need for engineers because the buildings don’t have to actually stand up and no need to allocate space for beds or toilets. Voxel employs three traditional architects among its team of 21 modellers, using skills honed in coding and gaming. $12,000 for a virtual plot and $50,000 for a virtual building design might seem expensive now but, just like Sydney property prices, I’ll bet on them appreciating.

Making money. Literally.

This story about a community movement in regional Victoria was refreshing amid the negative noise of election campaigning.  A group of artists in Castlemaine, Victoria launched its own clay currency, partly an economic experiment in bartering and partly a community art project. Named the “silver wattle”, about $10,000 worth of the currency was created in two denominations from locally sourced clay, with eight businesses including a café and bakery accepting the coins. Artists Ann Ferguson, Dale Cox, and Jodi Newcombe came up with the concept inspired by the 300 or so local currencies operating throughout the world. The artists also collaborated on an exhibition and from the pictures and stories on their Facebook page, I get a sense that the project inspired a lot of conversation about the meaning of money and using art to build resilience in the community.

As it happens, I’ll be driving through Castlemaine next month, on my way to Bendigo, visiting the Emporium Creative Hub which we’ve done some business modelling for, and taking a look at this exhibition at Bendigo Art Gallery all about the King. But I’ll pay for everything with legal tender. Promise.

Stop working and book your next getaway. 

Hope that headline inspired you, but besides that… who else enjoys browsing accommodation websites, day-dreaming at the luxurious end of the market? I recently discovered that AirBnB has a “design” category that allows you to search for properties designed by prize-winning architects, have original artworks on display, or have been featured in arts or design magazines. For example, you can stay at Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Still Bend” house located on the East Twin River about a mile from Lake Michigan. The minimum two-night stay will set you back about $3,000 and it’s booked out until December. I’m putting it on the bucket list now.

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