Professor Phillip McIntyre

Professor Phillip McIntyre


School of Creative Industries (Communication)

Cultivating creativity

How does the creative process work?  How are novel and valued things bought into being?  Can we use evidence-based examinations of creativity to increase our ability to generate unique and valued products, processes, and ideas?

Phillip McIntyre highlight image

Professor Phillip McIntyre is a Communication and Media scholar from the School of Creative Industries looking to answer these questions through his research on the phenomenon of creativity.

His interest in the systems that facilitate or obstruct the creative process and creative enterprise, was sparked in part by the impact of the digital revolution on song writing.

Prof McIntyre is recognised as a ‘founding voice’ of the field of research now called song writing studies. An active APRA registered songwriter, he spent considerable time ensconced in the music industry before coming to academia.

“Just recently I was invited to the UK to help launch the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded Songwriting Studies Research Network”, Dr McIntyre explains.

“This whole area of study is now off and running, and I’m pleased to have been a crucial part of that.

Canary in a coal mine

Exploring the concepts of creativity and innovation in song writing sparked a thirst for a broader scope of investigation.

“Given that the music industry has acted as a canary in the coal mine for all the digital changes the creative industries have been going through, it was not difficult to scale up my investigation from songs to the music industry and from there to the creative industries more generally,” Dr McIntyre explains.

Prof McIntyre now looks at advertising, architecture, film, radio, TV, publishing, visual and performing art, digital media, games, app development and the design sectors of the creative industries.

He argues that creativity, and the systems that facilitate it, extend well beyond the bounds of what is traditionally recognized as art.

Globally, colleagues are using Dr McIntyre’s work not only to inform their study of the Arts but also the investigation of the value of creativity in less obvious fields such as Maths, Engineering, and Science.

How does understanding and quantifying the systems and elements involved in creative enterprise and the ecosystems that spring up around such ventures, aid in the development, maintenance and scaling of creative industries?

Culture hunter

With funding and research partners from industry, government and business, Dr McIntyre and his team have undertaken several years of intensive research concerning Creativity and Cultural Production in the Hunter Region.

“We were recently part of a successful ARC Linkage grant that enabled us to take our innovative approach to creativity and apply it to the mapping of the Creative Industries in the Hunter Region”.

The resultant 546-page report acknowledges the 10,000 workers in the local creativity and cultural production sector, and the $1 billion contribution it makes annually to the regional economy.

The 'Creativity and Cultural Production' report, has been utilised by policymakers and others working in and with these increasingly significant industries - either educationally, politically, economically, or culturally.

The research has had, as a result, a deep impact on the Hunter region, with Dr McIntyre’s team universally lauded for the scope and richness of their work.

Addressing assumptions

Dr McIntyre and team are now working with new partners to transfer and scale their innovative mapping techniques.

“Our current industry partners from five different State Government instrumentalities want to identify regional creative hotspots, find out why they’re successful and then take that information and apply it to a number of struggling regions in their own states", he says.

“That will make a difference”.

From mentoring individuals in his field to influencing local government policy to informing the discourse of national creative bodies, making a difference is what Dr McIntyre is all about.

A dedicated teacher, he believes it is the contemporary and translational nature of his work that resonates within the student body.

“Once our students realize they are being taught the latest cutting edge research by an international expert in this area, and one who has also worked professionally for some time in the creative industries, they respond very well indeed,” Dr McIntyre says.

“Most importantly they take this knowledge into their own future oriented working lives, where they soon come to realize how valuable all that research on creativity is to them”.

“It makes their creative lives so much easier”.

Dr McIntyre explains that the biggest barrier faced by critical thinking, evidence-based researchers in his area face is a very well-entrenched set of cultural assumptions about creativity.

“In research terms at least, creativity is increasingly seen as an emergent property of a creative system in action.  That is exciting for me as a scholar as this is the approach I’ve been using for some time”.

Cultivating creativity

How does the creative process work? How are novel and valued things bought into being? Can we use evidence-based examinations of creativity to increase our ability to generate unique and valued products, processes, and ideas?

Read more

Career Summary


Professor Phillip McIntyre is a Communication and Media scholar from the School of Creative Industries who researches how novel and valued things are created by human beings. He seeks to answer a basic research question: what is the most rational and evidence-based way to explain how novel things are bought into being particularly within the creative industries? In addition to this basic research question, he also seeks to answer an applied question: How can these explanations help to increase humankind’s ability to generate unique and valued products, processes and ideas? In short he researches the phenomenon of creativity and innovation.

Prof McIntyre has been leading the ‘Hunter Creative Industries as an Entrepreneurial System’ project which was primarily funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant. Dr McIntyre was Lead CI on this grant formally entitled 'Creativity and Cultural Production: An Applied Ethnographic Study of New Entrepreneurial Systems in the Creative Industries.' This research project was the subject of a recent media piece written by economic geographer Prof Phillip O'Neill from UWS:

“Researchers at the University of Newcastle have set high standards in their report Creativity and Cultural Production in the Hunter. It's a journey-setting document. [This] encyclopaedic 546-page report is a baseline study of the make-up of the creative and cultural industries in the Hunter. The Creativity and Cultural Production report is refreshingly different from the cash-for-comment economic analyses you see for many sectors. The report carefully explains the rich and diverse composition of the 10,000 workers in the creativity and cultural production sector and the $1 billion contribution it makes annually to the regional economy. At its core are musicians, the media, publishers, advertisers, designers, artists, the theatre, filmmakers, electronic gamers and architects. And for each paid professional there is a thick moleskin pad of amateurs, interns and volunteers, together delivering cultural products and services to a surprisingly vast Hunter audience” (O’Neill 2019, online).

The 'Creativity and Cultural Production' report has been taken up by policymakers and those working in, and dealing with, these increasingly significant industries, either educationally, politically, economically or culturally. At a deeper level this ARC funded industry linked research has helped expose and explain the Hunter's regional creative system in action, what others have described as a dynamic innovation ecosystem. The research has had, as a result, a deep impact on the region so much so that Dr McIntyre and his research colleagues did very well in the recent national Impact and Engagement exercise. At the conclusion of this exercise, FoR 19, Creative Arts & Writing at the University of Newcastle (UON) received a HHH (3) score, the highest rating. Only four other institutions in the country achieved a rating like this for FoR 19. The UON Impact Case Study for FoR 19 was based on the ‘Hunter Creative Industries as an Entrepreneurial System’ project led by A/Prof McIntyre.

In total, Prof McIntyre has been involved in external and internal grants valued at $1,012,147 of which the University of Newcastle is in receipt of $475,245. He was recently awarded, along with a research team from QUT headed by Distinguished Prof Stuart Cunningham, another ARC Linkage Grant focused at identifying and explaining 'creative hotspots', like the Hunter region, but this time more broadly focused at the national level. The industry partners for this grant include Create NSW, Creative Victoria, Arts Qld, Arts SA and Arts WA. Dr McIntyre was also added as CI to an ARC Discovery Grant looking at the history of popular music in WA.

Dr McIntyre is also the Leader of the Future Work Research Group which is located inside the FASTlab Research Centre linked to the School of Creative Industries at UON. Prof McIntyre was a visiting scholar at Leeds Beckett University in the United Kingdom in 2010 working with a research group in sound production in the Faculty of Information and Technology. He was selected by the PVC to be part of the inaugural Emerging Research Leader's program in 2011 and recently received an Excellence in Research Supervision Award.