The overall top five regional hotspots, based on the percentage of professionals employed in creative industries in 2016 were: the Byron Shire in far northern New South Wales, Hobart in Tasmania, Anangu Pitjantjatjara in South Australia, Victoria’s Surf Coast and Queensland’s Gold Coast.
RAI policy and research manager Kim Houghton said he hoped the research would inspire policy to promote growth in towns that may be struggling economically.
“A lot of smaller communities are a bit stuck around attracting and retaining residents and we know that one of the drivers of that is cultural vibrancy and a sense of vitality,” he said.
“We’re trying to figure out a tipping point where a place might shift from a country town to a vibrant regional centre — and is the relative activity in the creative sector one of the measures of that tipping point?”
The institute also rated creative hubs in six subcategories:
- Advertising and marketing
- Architecture, design and visual arts
- Film, TV and radio
- Music and performing arts
- Software and digital content
The top five areas in the music and performing arts category were: the Byron Shire (pictured), Queensland’s Mareeba, Hobart and New South Wales towns Wingecarribee and Kiama.
Musician Toni Watson moved from Melbourne to Byron Bay because busking was so lucrative in the tourist town.
Performing under the stage name Tones and I, she regularly attracts crowds of hundreds on the weekends.
“I used to sing in the shower all the time when I was little and I watched way too much Video Hits, so when someone asked me to sing I was pretty much bang-on like Christine Aguilera,” she said.
“We bring in about $1,000 every four hours, so regardless of whether this takes off or not, busking is fine for now for me.” Busker – Byron Bay.
“When I leave Byron, it’s like leaving a bubble.”
Western Australia’s Gnowangerup topped the advertising and marketing category followed by: the Byron Shire, Gold Cost, Queensland’s Richmond, and Victoria’s Surf Coast.
Coomalie in the Northern Territory was the leader in the publishing category, followed by: Queensland’s Paroo, Armidale in New South Wales, Kingborough in Tasmania and Narrogin in Western Australia.
Hobart topped the software and digital content category, followed by: Wollongong in New South Wales, MacDonnell in the Northern Territory, Newcastle in New South Wales and Ballarat in Victoria.
In the film, TV and radio category the most creative community was the Central Desert in the Northern Territory followed by: the Byron Shire, Hobart, Darwin and the Gold Coast.
The top five areas in the architecture, design and visual arts category were: South Australia’s Anangu Pitjantjatjara, the Byron Shire, Victoria’s Surf Coast, Western Australia’s Ashburton and Bellingen on the New South Wales mid north coast.
Set designer, illustrator and architect Paula Whiteway is based in the Bellingen Shire and has worked on films including Pirates of the Caribbean and Thor.
“On smaller projects it will be a 10-week stint,” she said.
“On Pirates I was away for 10 months and I was travelling backwards and forwards, so I racked up a lot of kilometres on my car.
“I think I worked out I did over 100,000 kilometres that year and went through a car — rest in peace the old Volvo.
“It is hard, but I chose to live in Bellingen because it was halfway between two film hubs — Sydney and Brisbane.”
Ms Whiteway said the natural beauty of the Bellingen (pictured above) region and the family-friendly atmosphere made it more attractive than the city.
“With the housing price rise, it can be one of the most daunting prospects for low-income earners,” she said.
“When I’m not working on films, I live below the poverty line and it has meant you have to move further afield from the centre of town, but development of the internet and online sales and being able to outsource design activities and stuff you are able to live in and work for anyone anywhere.”
First published at ABC MNC – 18 May 2018.