Creative Disruption: how emerging technologies are driving creative industries prosperity in SA

Technology like the Internet and social media has opened the door for opportunities for sharing creativity – providing fertile ground for invention and entrepreneurship in South Australia.

By Jessica Franze|

When Program Director Dr Carolyn Bilsborow rolled out the University of South Australia’s newest degree, she never expected more than 60 student enrolments. 

By the time those in UniSA’s upper echelons had approved the Bachelor of Creative Industries, it was already March 2019, leaving the university with minimal time to get the word out to prospective students. 

However, this projection proved extremely modest when, in October, the BCI had received well above four times the predicted number of SATAC preferences. 

Not to be mistaken for a simple turn of events, the high number of applicants reflects the rising prominence of the creative industries.

The creative industries are all about story-telling: From film and television; digital and social media; computer animation and web-design; festival and event management; to more traditional forms of artistic expression, such as theatre, writing and photography.

But changes in technology have put media organisations under pressure to reinvent themselves – changing the way they tell their stories. 

Streaming services, mobile technology and artificial intelligence are all changing the ways content is created, published and managed.

However, rather than replacing creative industries professionals, technology has augmented how they work and created new learning and career opportunities.

This is evidenced by the fact that the creative industries now employ 29.5 million people globally.

Technology, such as the Internet and social media, has opened a whole new range of opportunities for sharing creativity – providing fertile ground for invention and entrepreneurship.

Arts audiences are now more diverse and artistic expression a more participatory experience, pushing the boundaries of what is considered art and giving creative professionals greater visibility. 

The shift in the way content is created and delivered also means the various industry specialisations are becoming increasingly intertwined, with creative professionals now required to collaborate across disciplines.

For instance, acting graduates must now be able to work in various technology-based contexts – such as, acting for virtual and augmented reality, game design, and animation – each of which draws on a specific skills-set.

UniSA is just one tertiary institution that has adapted its degree offering in line with industry changes. 

The BCI is designed to prepare students for the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of creative industries practice. 

“The degree has been developed out of growing demand in industry for graduates who are already skilled in various creative and cultural areas,” Dr Bilsborow said.

The 3-year program offers students a greater selection of specialisations and business courses as well as the opportunity to complete an industry placement or creative venture.

This allows students to tailor their studies to their individual career objectives and develop both business and creative skills without having to complete a double-degree.

“Pairing the business side with the creative side is a first for any UniSA program as well as a first for any degree in South Australia,” Dr Bilsborow said. 

The Program Director was also instrumental in engaging Industry Partners to identify desired graduate attributes, both through large-scale and one-on-one consultation.

This involved the establishment of an industry reference group comprised of several key South Australian media organisations.

Dan Thorsland is the General Manager of Mighty Kingdom, one of South Australia’s most experienced production companies and a BCI Industry Partner.  

Mr Thorsland said Mighty Kingdom was just one organisation where disciplines come together and skills are shared.

“The ability to work with your peers is vital,” Mr Thorsland said.

“[Students] must become accustomed to working on a project and with people from different viewpoints, and different creative viewpoints in particular.”

As technology becomes more and more central to the production and consumption of culture, it is likely to continue being central to creative industries practice, both now and in the future. 

In South Australia, job opportunities for creative industries graduates are growing at a rate and scale that was previously unimagined.

Mighty Kingdom employs 270 people in its video games division alone, which Mr Thorsland said demonstrated the rapid growth of the industry. 

 “We hire five people per month… We trained 16 graduates in our graduate program over the last couple of years,” Mr Thorsland said.

“Mighty Kingdom has 10 per cent of a pool of 1300 employees in the video game industry… That’s extraordinary growth.”

Applications to study the Bachelor of Creative Industries in 2020 are now open. Visit the UniSA website to learn more.

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