The University of Newcastle, Australia

It’s awards season all over again…..

Friday, 31 January 2020

OPINION: With the Golden Globes and the Grammys behind us and the Oscars up next, the celebration of ‘class of 2019’ will soon give way to speculation about likely candidates for next year’s awards.

The Living End filming with students from Creative Industries
The Living End filming with students from The School of Creative Industries

We’ll see films looking for producers, directors, cinematographers and sound recordists. Casting directors auditioning for bit parts and lead actors. Script writers developing screenplays yet to be green lit. Special effects teams storyboarding complex action sequences with state-of-the-art digital technology. Newly signed recording artists looking for producers, sound engineers, tour managers, lighting directors and publicists to take their show on the road. And when they do, graphic designers and illustrators to produce publicity posters, develop mobile applications and websites to promote banging tracks or unmissable movie releases.

Public relations crews will be implementing communication strategies across social media, television, radio and newsprint to maximise publicity. Journalists will vie for exclusive interviews and back-stage access to accompany their reviews of the hottest ticket in town and the movie of the year. Then fashion designers will create red carpet masterpieces as the awards season kicks off once more.

Behind every moving piece of this complex machinery is a creative individual working with hundreds of other equally creative people who write, record, make, produce, direct, design, publicise, perform, screen and critique creative and cultural work that inspires, challenges, informs, entertains and moves us every day of our lives.

There is so much more to the creative industry than meets the eye. Once a year as the red carpets get rolled out, we see the glitz and glamour of the industry, controversial speeches and choices rearing their heads, hosts confronting and critics revelling. But do the awards go far enough in recognising the vast number of individuals behind the scenes without whom the magic wouldn’t happen?

The pieces that make up the ‘creative industries’ are integral to all of our lives, even if we’re not movie buffs or avid concert goers, we all consume the news in some form, online or via traditional media, on occasion we’ve all succumbed to advertising, perhaps binged a series on a streaming platform.

That’s what’s special about leading the School of Creative Industries at the University of Newcastle. My job isn’t just about helping our students get jobs, (though we do that very well - 86% of our Visual Communication Design and 80% of our Bachelor of Communication students land a job within four months of getting their degree), it's about being there when it all begins and helping shape that direction.

It’s about developing and nurturing future creative talent, preparing them for an ever-changing world of work in a growing, dynamic and rapidly evolving creative industries sector – and making sure they still find the space to make the work that infiltrates all parts of our lives.

The rapidly evolving industry is one of the challenges we continually have to address to remain relevant. Social media editors and user experience designers are just two jobs that didn’t exist little over a decade ago – but are now in high demand. And in a future where gamification designers, fusionists, media mixers and virtual reality experience creators are common Creative Industries occupations it’s right that we make sure the next generation of creatives have the practical and intellectual skills to do the jobs we’ve not even thought of yet.

It’s an exciting challenge for us as a new school: making sure we’re helping our students get the jobs industry needs now whilst keeping a clear eye on what skills they might need in future.

I believe that over the coming years as we continue to carve out and shape a creative and cultural presence in Newcastle’s CBD it’s the students studying with us now and in the near future who will help us to do that. They’ll build the creative industries here in Newcastle, creating jobs and contributing to the culture and economic growth of our city in the process. Others will travel and take their skills nationally and internationally, and either way that’s something we as a city should be really proud of.

So, while an Oscar or a Grammy award might not be the end game for everyone, as educators in this industry it’s the start of the journey that’s just as important. As awards season comes around, there’s certainly no harm in having a red carpet dream – or if you’re just in the audience, appreciating all of the people who make the magic happen.

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