How does the Brisbane City Council support the graphic design industry?

This response is to the Brisbane City Council (BCC) of their strategy to make Brisbane one of the world’s leading creative cities.

“The Creative Brisbane Creative Economy 2013-22 strategy aims to strengthen the city’s liveability as a vibrant creative hub and to ensure Brisbane will be the premier location for talented people to live, work and play; a city to raise families, and develop careers and economic potential.” Message from Graham Quirk, Lord Mayor of Brisbane (B.C.C, 2013, Pg. i)

There are many potential modifications that could be implemented to the Creative Brisbane. Creative Economy. 2013-2022 (2013) report. Such as how the government supports the design industry. The venues/outlets that are available for graphic designers. The exposure and publicity the council provides graphic designers, to bring about greater awareness of the industry to the public/ local community. The need of less focus on other creative industries like film, audio and game design as well as administering specific goals that are required to be put in place to improve the city’s shortcomings. We can look at how  Brisbane City Council  could/can do better compared to other cities in Australia. These topics will be discussed as separate entities with many aspects and ideas crossing over providing a clearer picture of the final outcome that needs to be achieved for the graphic design industry. This crossover of ideas is largely indicative of the creative industry considering it takes many designers from all genres to produce projects/art works as a team together. With all this in mind as a creative team we need to look at how better BCC can support graphic designers which will inevitably contribute to the improvement of the overall economy in Brisbane.

At present there are limited actions set in place by the BCC for creative industries.

Some of the Current Policies & Grants.
  • City Entertainment, Parks and Gardens Events
  • Sponsorship for Events

(B.C.C, 2013, Pg. 18)

Policies & Grants in Place for Artists.
  • Art in Public Places
  • Artforce – Urban Smart Projects
  • Vibrant Laneways program

(B.C.C, 2013, Pg. 19).

Future Policies & Grants the BCC would like to apply to improve the city.
  • Promote projects/events that highlight local creative enterprise, e.g. music, digital start-ups and film to attract new audiences and investment. (B.C.C, 2013, Pg. 18)
  • Develop distinct creative identity for CBD, South Brisbane, Fortitude Valley and Spring Hill. (B.C.C, 2013, Pg. 18)
  • Develop creative enterprise focus in Council to partner, support and facilitate the development of emerging creative enterprises
  • Engage in select support in Brisbane’s signature small companies and events, focussed on supporting them to achieve the next level of development, and their presentation to interstate and international audiences.(B.C.C, 2013, Pg.  21)

These current and future policies assist and focus mainly on the most obvious creative industries for instance;  the local artists, producers, musicians and game designers/developers from around the community, rather than the local graphic designers and businesses within the city.This lack of council support by the government is minimal for graphic designers compared to other cities like Melbourne. Designers based in Brisbane have one major funding opportunity called Generate Design Program. This program allows graphic designers to apply for a grant that will assist them in building and starting up their own business. If they are one of the ten successful applicants they then secure a share of  $10,000 from the total amount of $100,000 that the BCC grant offers. (C.P.A, 2014). The only downside to this appropriation is that only 10 designers get to put their ideas forward. When in reality there may be other projects ideas from  designers who missed out on this grant that could have a bigger impact on our community and/or tourism in the city. Who decides which designers are successful in the process and do their ideas really help the economy?  Brisbane based designers also have a second grant to choose from called Creative Sparks Program. This grant aims to invest in projects within a community context that is aimed at a social, economic and cultural return to the city. It supports artists and producers in the creation of new work to present to the community. As well as  broadening  designers skills in their creative practice, it invests into any new partnerships between the arts, community and businesses in Brisbane. But again this grant is limited to supporting a maximum of two applications per round which does not allow many designers to again grow this business for the local economy.  Although these grants in Brisbane for designers have helped many start up companies the BCC is still behind other cities. Comparing Brisbane’s funding for the arts to Melbourne’s concept  shows us how restricting Brisbane really is.  Melbourne has three funding alternatives for creative individuals/businesses again not just graphic designers, to apply for called Creators Funding, VicArts Grant and Creative Learning Partnerships. The Victorian government is giving and investing substantially more money in grants for the creative industry allowing individual and small business anywhere from $5000 to $50,000 to get a projects off the ground. With having more funding  this allows creative practitioners to have more options when applying for grants as well as the higher chances of getting approved. But again there is still only a certain number of designers that get approved for each grant.

Venue/outlets in Brisbane city are extremely  limited for graphic design events. Most venues/outlets in Brisbane only cater for film, audio and games design industries not local graphic designers and/or university students to showcase any of their work for potential employers/clients. Let alone the public to view any of the great work they do that is not a form of advertising for a product or another event. The awareness about the importance of the graphic design industry does not seem to resonate with the BCC, even though it is one of the most important aspects and underpins the visual aspects Brisbane uses to advertise other creative industry events. Brisbane has put other industries e.g. film, audio and games before graphic design. Many of these areas of the creative workforce here in Brisbane have events e.g Queensland Film Festival, Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF), Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival, Future Shorts Film Festival, Bigsound, Queensland Music Festival, Goodlife Festival, EB Games Expo, Oz Comic-Con, Supernova just to name a few. There are not many events for design that are supported by the BCC this is due to all the advertising that Brisbane has around for other things happening. Graphic designers are like the quiet achievers of the design industry. Their visual projects are seen everywhere but never heard of.  There is an event called The Design Conference Brisbane which is privately run at Brisbane Powerhouse and Fortitude Valley. This event was created to help students and professionals to learn from leading professionals in the graphic design industry from around the world to improve skills and network. But when an event like this does come to Brisbane for designers there is little to no advertisement compared to massively advertised events for film, audio and games due to it being privately funded and not funded by the BCC.

Improvements need to be made by Brisbane City Council to bring awareness about the versatility and expanse of work that local graphic designers can produced, to the public and other creative industries. Some things that could be implemented within the next 2 years are:

  • Exhibitions at the Gallery Of Modern Art (GOMA)
  • Recognition at other creative industry’s festivals
  • More funding by the government so that community creative projects can be implemented.
  • High schools teaching students about the industry in Media Classes
  • Graphic Designers getting involved in career development for students in junior and high schools as well as universities.

Holding an exhibition for local designers at the GOMA would have a huge impact as the number of tourists and residents of Brisbane city visiting galleries and museums is more than 2 million people each year  compared to the cinemas which only gets 1.5 million (B.C.C, 2013, Pg. 9). This also showcases the support that Brisbane has for all creative industries to countries around the world. Another means to support local designers is given recognition at film, audio and game events for the advertisement/art that was completed to show to the public. This means when a director is speaking to the audience about his/hers film they can mention the designer who produced the poster that captured the audience’s attention to come to see the film and attend the event. Same thing can happen with audio festivals and game events. The funding here in Brisbane is underprivileged compared to Melbourne which has three options and more money allocated and invested for graphic designers to receive funding for community projects. This means that the BCC needs to execute and match Melbourne’s outlook on supporting the creative industry by the means of another grant or even two for graphic designers/businesses to obtain help to complete community  projects and to build  companies that in turn grow the economy by creating more jobs for the Brisbane workforce. Graphic designers having input into careers in high schools and having the curriculum  teach students about what the design industry does and how graphic designers complete their artwork/advertisements for public’s’ viewing,  would bring about an new fresh outlook on the design world and create a greater understanding of how important our visual learning is in the community. It is also important for the next generation to have background knowledge of the industry so the earlier the input about the importance of the creative industry the better for our community.

As stated, the Creative Brisbane Strategy does recognise what the needs are for most of  the creative sector in Brisbane and has substantially discussed them with convenient plans and arrangements of action. But is this enough? When they want Brisbane to be one of the forward thinking leaders in the design world. I say no! The overall issue is that the graphic design industry needs a drastic change in the amount of attention the BCC is giving them/us.  If the BCC want to lead this creative industry in the eyes of the world and nation, the growth of the industry needs wider exposure to the community and needs to be more greatly defined and highlighted.This change would then  have a huge return on the economy, social and cultural aspects of the city; which would in the long term pay off and bring in revenue due to the local unseen silent talent that Brisbane has to offer to the world. Graphic design needs to be showcased dramatically more than it is now. Who ever knows who designed that bill board or film poster on the side of the bus? No one as the designer’s name is never stated on the piece like in drawings/ paintings. The graphic designer is inadvertently the silent hero of this city.

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