Why Creative Geelong?
Jennifer Cromarty, President, Creative Geelong Inc
In recent months, I’ve often been asked 'Why Creative Geelong', with questions on how this unique project came about. For me, it's personal. I love Geelong. I always have, no matter where I've lived across the country or state, Geelong is home.
Around the time of initial announcements of Ford's closure, many were proclaiming the demise of Geelong. Then came announcements about Alcoa shutting down and Target relocating its head office. 'Poor Geelong' became the focus whenever our city was mentioned or discussed, both locally and across the country.
While I sat in meetings, listening to politicians, policy makers and leaders wanting support and assistance for those hard hit, I could see Geelong in a different light, one with creative potential.
Professionally, I was researching the impact of creative industries on economies around the world and found that, here was a new way of explaining the future of work, with technology enabling creativity and collaboration. With social media allowing us to tell our story, when our new, magnificent library grew into its fully-domed glory, I started taking pictures of its construction and of other beautiful, interesting things being made, built and created around the city.
Social media allows us to tell our story, and I wanted to share a story of Geelong's creative potential. From small beginnings, the Creative Geelong Facebook page now has around 6,000 followers. And two years ago, there was concerted interest from a group of locals to start a not for profit - Creative Geelong Inc.
Since then, we have been able to share our ideas. In 2016 we raised over $20,000 with the community via crowdfunding on a project in partnership with Deakin University and the University of Melbourne to make a film documenting Geelong's journey from an industrial era to our creative currency. The 'Hubcaps to Creative Hubs' film will be premiered at the library in March 2018. Watch the trailer here.
In 2017, we launched our first data sets to benchmark the influence of creative industries in the region. In 2018, we will update that data with 2016 Census information in partnership with the Geelong Region Local Learning and Employment Network and Enterprise Geelong to understand the creative industries' economic impact and jobs growth.
Creative Geelong has also received funding from the City of Greater Geelong to develop a Makers Hub in Centrepoint Arcade, Little Malop St. The Makers Hub is an inclusive space for the community to access a Makerspace, coworking, arts studio and workshop programs to bring together Geelong's design, tech, art and science community as a collective. Yes, we even have 3D printers and people to help you understand robotics!
In 2017, the Geelong community also voted on a 'Clever and Creative' long term vision, and the City of Greater Geelong was designated a UNESCO Creative City of Design. And now, others are believing in our creative future.
In 2018, I can see Geelong's story is shifting from "Poor Geelong" to "How amazing is Geelong? I want to move / stay / come back to be a part of it!"
That's the Creative Geelong story for now, but we welcome anyone who wants to join us and help build on our future. It's just the beginning.