How to play the lead in Australia's creative future
It's tough to make a career out of creativity. Getting your break in creative industries takes talent. Staying there takes business skills and an entrepreneurial spirit, which was largely left to chance until UWSCollege introduced an innovative program to give creative minds the business savvy to reach their full career potential.
The two year, nationally recognised Associate Degree in Creative Industries has been developed by UWSCollege, in association with the University of Western Sydney, to give creative entrepreneurs and artists the essential business skills and knowledge to establish full time careers or take on more senior management roles.
The Australian creative industry is estimated to be worth over $30 billion dollars and in the 21st century is emerging as a major driver in the economy with almost 300,000 people directly employed. But there is need for a more coordinated approach to increase the business skills of those joining and already in creative enterprises to help the industry achieve maximum growth.
Dr Kerry Hudson, CEO of UWSCollege and Director, Education Partnerships at UWS, says the Associate Degree in Creative Industries has been built with both artist and industry in mind.
"There are many business courses available but none are tailored for the Australian creative industry. So, we went directly to leading creative industry organisations and professionals in Sydney and beyond to ask them what skills they valued and what they believed was essential for success," says Dr Hudson.
"The Associate Degree in Creative Industries provides tuition which is directly relevant to students' working lives providing them with strong management, project planning accounting and business skills."
Dr Hudson says the principles for conducting business may be similar across all industries, but those working in creative industries are often freelancers who must go it alone when negotiating rights and licensing agreements, navigating tax rules and OH&S laws and other employer responsibilities.
"Those working in creative industries need to have relevant skills across broad areas but they don't necessarily need to have in-depth knowledge across different industry settings," she says.
Ms Peta Downes, Executive Coordinator for the Associate Degree in Creative Industries says the undergraduate program - taking its first cohort of students in 2012 - is unique in New South Wales.
"The program, which is only offered to 30 students each year, is designed to hone students' business and entrepreneurial skills in a collaborative environment akin to the small to medium enterprises that are the backbone of Australia's creative industries," says Ms Downes.
"The real life industry environment extends to the final year project which involves the students applying the knowledge they have learnt to design, manage and deliver a series of community-based creative outcomes such as an exhibition, performance or event.
"It's a unique opportunity for the students to practice their newly acquired entrepreneurial skills in the supportive environment of our creative industry partners but also to experience the pressures and challenges of delivering an engaging project on time and on budget," says Ms Downes.
The Associate Degree in Creative Industries program includes units in entrepreneurial, innovation and management strategies, marketing and communication techniques and project planning and delivery methods, presentations from industry leaders and a series of real-world creative industries case studies.
The program is full time but will be delivered in a flexible mode to accommodate the professional work commitments of students.
The Associate Degree in Creative Industries is a Commonwealth Government Supported (CGS) program and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. HECS-HELP and Austudy/Abstudy is available.
15 December 2011