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Fostering Innovation in the Creative Industries

Fostering Innovation in the Creative Industries

By: Dr Rachel Morley

In the Autumn semester 2024, students in Introduction to Creative Industries, a first-year Bachelor of Creative Industries subject, have engaged in a dynamic curriculum experience. From delving into the fundamental principles of innovation, communication, collaboration, and entrepreneurial thinking, to engaging in hands-on activities like Lego Serious Play challenges, creative ideation tasks, tower builds, and reflective drawing exercises, its definitely been an action-packed couple of months. 

But undoubtedly the most transformative experience has been the inaugural Creative Industries Innovation Challenge, an immersive learning initiative that has seen students rapidly expand the scope of their creativity, resilience, and teamwork skills.  

Developed as a collaboration between the School of Humanities and Communication Arts, Launch Pad, and Powerhouse Parramatta, the Challenge tasked students with the following question: 

‘How can a museum stay relevant in a changing world?’

Working in nine interdisciplinary teams, students were asked to think through the provocation in the context of Powerhouse Parramatta, which opens in Western Sydney in 2025. Powerhouse aims to build a museum that is ‘future-proof’, and which transforms conventional understandings of what museums do and make, and how they connect with communities. 

But how?

How can museums like Powerhouse stay relevant amidst massive social, cultural, economic and technological change? This was the challenge the challenge teams needed to confront. 

Leading up to the Challenge, the students identified a guiding theme for their discovery process. They learnt about ‘blue ocean thinking’, ‘radical creativity’, and how to craft a problem statement that embraces potentialities. Crucially, they also learnt the value of sitting in the ‘problem space’, of learning to welcome uncertainty as an integral part of the creative process. 

When they arrived for the full-day Challenge, the teams were ready to get to work. Guided by Launch Pad entrepreneur-in-residence, Brad Twynham, and a crack team of Powerhouse and Launch Pad mentors, the students threw themselves into the hackathon pressure cooker

They made excellent use of the Launch Pad innovation toolkit, brainstorming ideas and testing problem statements, before diving into the solution space. Then, with only 30 minutes spare, they wrote and designed presentations for the pitching showcase at lightning speed. 

The atmosphere was electric as were their pitches! All students presented innovative and engaged solutions with many focused on accessibility, inclusion, sustainability and meeting the needs of Western Sydney (and beyonds) changing and diverse communities.

Solutions included immersive experiences capable of transforming the way Western Sydney’s diverse stories are told; a digital and physical content platform that collects and distributes user-made content in response to programmed themes; and an AI-generated guide system that uses hologram technology to create personalised experiences of the museum’s collections and exhibitions. While there were no winners, the latter solution – developed by The Future Proofers – took out the coveted People’s Choice Award.  

After the event, students shared their surprise at learning so much in one day.

“I learnt that I am capable of working in an uncomfortable environment of not knowing everything all at once”.

“I learnt to trust my instincts, communicate more confidently, and that focused work can still occur even after some pushing”.

While almost all students wished for more presentation prep time, they were amazed by what they’d achieved in such a short timeframe.

As a teacher it was thrilling to see first-year students step up like this. They grappled with uncertainty and ‘not knowing’, worked intensely and purposefully in teams; challenged assumptions about what it means to ‘be creative’; worked under pressure and with limited resources; and they overcame worries about presenting in public.

A massive thanks to Powerhouse Museum and Launch Pad for bringing such an amazing opportunity to the students. Shout outs to Carla Dias Wadewitz, Brad Twynham, Mabel Joe and Quinn Do from Launch Pad; Kiera Mitchell, Gillian Kayrooz, Nathan Sentance and Keiran McGee from Powerhouse; Margaret Hancock from Western Sydney Creative; and our fantastic industry panel, Dr Leo Robba, Misty McPhail, and Chidiebube Uba.

It’s absolutely been a blast and I can’t wait for the next one!