Territory Stories

Creative tropical city : mapping Darwin's creative industries



Creative tropical city : mapping Darwin's creative industries

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Tess Lea ...[et al.]


Lea, Tess; Charles Darwin University. School for Social and Policy Research; Australian Research Council; Darwin (N.T.). Council; Tourism NT


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Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).


"The research project's three stated aims are: 1. to determine the nature, extent and change over time of the creative industries in Darwin; 2. to interrogate the applicability of national and international creative industry policy frameworks to Darwin; 3. to identify opportunities for transformation in the creative industries in Darwin."..tp.




Creative ability in business -- Northern Territory -- Darwin; Entrepreneurship -- Northern Territory --Darwin; Success in business -- Northern Territory -- Darwin

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Charles Darwin University

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46 pages : colour illustrations, maps (chiefly colour), portraits. ; 30 cm.

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11 In the global rush to adopt a creative industries agenda, some cities and their planners make the mistake of uncritically imposing one size fits all approaches onto unwilling communities and unsuitable sites. Our analysis of national and international policy frameworks reveals that these work best when they are organic to their place. Darwin is different in that to date, it does not have a creative industries policy framework. The impositions the sector has experienced come from ad-hoc decision-making that has affected their viability. When a key creative site is knocked down without thought of its role in sustaining embryonic creative activity, the sector has to enter a reboot stage. This happens over and over, creating a sense of short tenure in creative enterprise that is then attributed to the Territorys overall population churn when demography is not necessarily the main culprit. To successfully position itself in the international city brand marketplace, Darwin needs to first understand what makes it truly unique as a creative city. Developing uniqueness around points of local distinction is best done in conjunction with local creatives, who are well placed to advise on local possibilities and strengths. Some cities may well need to dig deep to come up with a local story, but Darwin is blessed by a long and complex history; an embarrassment of riches in terms of its multilayered narrative underpinning its own unique place in the world. At the same time, as the mapping work completed for this research shows, the places that enable creativity and distinction are not only under threat, but because of Darwins size, assume a disproportionate importance in creative industry competitiveness (see Spatial Planning section). In our study, there was great consistency around where Darwins strengths lie as a creative city: its unique geography, which gives rise to two other key strengths: the citys multicultural diversity and the centrality of Indigenous culture to cultural life less hierarchical than other cities with great access to senior members of business and government similarly, low barriers to entry and strong networks strong arts and creative community, given its size; in terms of resident artists the city punches well above its weight the proximity to Asia, for travel and business, gives the city a non-parochial world view give it a go spirit: positive, progressive, risk- taking youthful city with sense of excitement strong encouragement of individualism, sustained by a supportive community a university relative isolation and distance means creative producers are not slaves to the latest trends laid-back lifestyle and less competitive creative culture a local culture of self-reliance and making-do. Darwin is thus extremely well-placed in terms of the key conditions for success as a creative city: an open, diverse community which welcomes newcomers. It is the firm recommendation of this report that in whatever steps it takes to further develop the citys creative economy potential, these unique qualities enabling Darwins creativity are protected, nurtured and placed at the centre of its future story. While it is good practice to look elsewhere for possible solutions to identified problems, looking elsewhere for an off-the-shelf creative city identity is a recipe for ruining whats already present.

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