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Creative Industries Event Sparks Bright Ideas

Last week, Regional Arts NSW visited Albury-Wodonga to attend the creative industries symposium hosted by Murray Arts, Bright Sparks. This is the second year the conference has run, and an audience of 75 were gathered at the Butter Factory, Gateway Island, to listen to speakers Clare Bowditch and Mark Tuckey, as well as attend forums and workshops facilitated by successful local business people.

Celebrated furniture designer, Mark Tuckey, found himself speaking to a very warm crowd of fans and interior design groupies, despite admitting he had, ‘never given a talk like this before.’ He described his journey from humble beginnings, to the success he is today. Tuckey imparted practical advice about handling staffing issues, marketing and small business practicalities (‘find yourself a mate, who’s a lawyer’), along with wisdom of experience from a creative perspective (‘There are going to be people who don’t like what you do… the only consolation, really, is for you to like what you’re doing.’).

Musician and Offspring actor, Bowditch, addressed the audience as the spokeswoman for her business, Big Hearted Business, which trains creative small-business owners in the art of thriving in the modern business landscape. ‘We teach creative people about business, and business people to be creative,’ she said.

During her keynote talk, Bowditch asked the audience to write down three steps they needed to take this year, to begin the process of realising their business dream by 2018. She expressed sympathy with her fellow creatives in the audience, who were hungry for tips on the journey towards a successful creative business.

A forum facilitated by Jon Halpin, which opened up the conversation to the experiences of business people living in the area, provided insight into the working lives of successful regional creatives.  Sisters, Lisa O’Keefe and Stacey Clayton of Koolaman Designs; award winning, Albury-based, filmmaker,Helen Newman; and freelance embroidery designer, Alison Moncrief, all shared their working lives and perspectives on how to ‘make it work’ outside of the capital cities.

Murray Arts plan to continue the event next year; they hope for its reach to grow and to see creative industry people from Wagga Wagga, ACT and Bendigo, travel to attend the conference in 2014.

Read the speakers biographies here for more information.