Townsville’s creative industries need a boost
James Cook University researchers have found Townsville is suffering a creative industries ‘brain drain’ and the sector needs a kickstart to stop hundreds of millions of dollars from leaving the city.
JCU economist Associate Professor Riccardo Welters says Townsville’s creative industries are struggling and don’t show any sign of improving soon.
“We found that instead of growing in recent years, Townsville’s creative industries workforce in 2017 was 2.8% of employees, down from 2.9% in 2011 and 3.0% in 2006.”
He said the definition of a creative industry is slippery but is generally thought to include things like advertising and marketing, performance, entertainment, and design of all kinds, as well as publishing and crafts.
“We estimate that a quarter of all creative industries services sold in Townsville are imported from outside the city. This means around $200 million per year is leaving the city to pay for it.”
Dr Welters says there are a number of reasons for the industries’ shortcomings.
“We found that businesses in the market for creative services often import them because the projects are large-scale and can’t be handled by small local sellers operating in a small Townsville market.”
He said the researchers also found that many customers were simply not aware of local creative industry providers or had a view that they were of inferior quality.
Dr Welters says the solution is for Townsville’s creative businesses to band together so they could take on larger projects – something that local government could facilitate.
“Hand-in-hand with that, showcasing the quality of completed projects by local creative industries could do much to both raise awareness of their existence and dispel perceptions that they are of lower quality,” he said.
Associate Professor Riccardo Welters
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