The University of Newcastle, Australia

Connecting the humanities with business to build commercial opportunities in Maitland

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

The Centre for 21st Century Humanities, Maitland City Council, and The Business Centre are working together to help build business capability in Maitland.

Vic Thompson and Helen Hopcroft (dressed as Marie Antoinette) met with Jelinda Millgate of The Business Centre.

Following the Humanities Startup Workshop held in Maitland in July by the Centre for 21st Century Humanities in partnership with Maitland City Council, a diverse mix of fledging businesses have been seeking one on one assistance from The Business Centre.

The Business Centre is a not-for-profit organisation, supporting small business and entrepreneurs through business advisory services, mentoring programs, workshops, training and events.

Business Connect Advisor with The Business Centre, Jelinda Millgate said she has assisted the workshop participants with viability and commercialisation of their ideas to make a profit as well as strategic planning for the future.

“It was great to sit down with the workshop participants and help them pinpoint their business purpose and unique values to their customers. Some startups struggle with defining their unique value proposition, and how to translate that into a commercial outcome and viable business model, so we offer assistance to help identify this,” Jelinda said.

Vic Thompson and Helen Hopcroft from Frank’s Fantastic Fairy Tale Theatre, a community puppet theatre based in Maitland, recently had a session with Jelinda and Helen says it was extremely useful.

“We were keen to establish Frank's Fantastic Fairy Tale Theatre properly, so Jelinda gave us some excellent advice on appropriate business models, such as the co-operative structure which reflects Frank's collaborative ethos and community focus. But more than this, Jelinda helped us to articulate the 'why' of our business: what we wanted to do, why we wanted to do it, and where we planned to be in three or five year's time,” Helen said.

The idea for the puppet theatre started when Helen, Frank Oakes and other members of Maitland Repertory Theatre decided to collaborate and start the business.

“Frank’s is about retelling traditional fairy tales in new ways for contemporary audiences. Many people I've spoken to remember encountering puppet theatres with delight during their childhoods, and so we want to give this sense of wonder to Hunter Valley children,” Helen said.

Helen said the session with The Business Centre helped move Frank's from 'in the moment' thinking to a more long-term appreciation of how their current choices would affect their future outcomes.

“It made me realise that businesses need to be cohesive entities in the sense that their philosophy needs to match their actions, and the underlying business structure needs to match this philosophy,” Helen commented.

Director for the Centre for 21st Century Humanities, Professor Hugh Craig is pleased the Centre was able to help facilitate a great outcome for the workshop participants.

“One of the key focuses of the Centre for 21st Century Humanities is to foster industry links and community engagement and the start up workshops we offer do this by bringing together experienced business people with humanities entrepreneurs. We know the arts and humanities have a lot to offer contemporary society so it’s wonderful to see these startups being given the business support they need to succeed,” Professor Craig said.