Disruption in the arts and cultural sector

Profound changes in the creative landscape are being led by new technologies and creative entrepreneurs using different forms of financing and resources.

Last week ArtsHub Australia and Creative Victoria kicked off their current joint project under the Creative Exchange umbrella with the webinar, Thinking outside the box: what the creative industries can learn from innovators in other fields. And the upshot is that disruption is on the way…

The two presenters were Peter Tullin, a leading futurist in the creative industries and Co-Founder of the international event, REMIX Summits, and Lara Thoms, an arts practitioner working with the experimental arts organisation APHIDS, but also a tech entrepreneur – one of the three co-founders of ArtsPay.

As a creative strategist, Tullin works with organisations across the globe developing programs and innovative solutions for 21st century projects.

In the webinar he points to the disruption he believes is due to shake up the arts and cultural sector and shares a range of cutting edge projects from the UK, here in Australia and elsewhere that may give us an idea of where our industries are heading. Tullin explains how these ideas have evolved and what kinds of responses they’re getting from the audiences and participants involved. 

You’d have to have been living under a rock not to notice the exponential growth of immersive experiences over the last few years and Tullin highlights a few of the more successful, explaining how the ‘broad church’ that is immersive experiences can be linked to new business models, creative entrepreneurs and, particularly, emergent technologies. 

He points to the impressive visitor numbers received by the Melbourne-based LUME at the city’s Convention Centre, but notes that these pale in comparison to the much bigger scale of similar experiences overseas.

London alone had over 30 immersive shows last year – all borrowing ideas and innovations from the gaming industry, virtual reality and other pioneering sectors. From Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds to a Gunpowder Plot exhibition near the Tower of London, ABBA Voyage and a Cold War era bunker in South Korea, the world is experiencing new and exciting ways of telling stories and presenting art in all its many forms.

And to give a local taste of entrepreneurial thinking in this space, there’s Lara Thoms – a creative who used her downtime in the pandemic to do some truly original thinking. Just a few months into the pandemic Thoms and her partners Marc Goldenfein and Alistair Webster co-founded ArtsPay, using ideas and solutions gleaned from FinTech to create a payment processing company that supports the arts. 

As a practitioner herself, Thoms knows all about the precarity of existence for solo artists and small arts organisations, and the three ArtsPay founders have hit on a great way to both help the arts industry and provide their own ripples of disruption in the payment processing industry at the same time. As their website says, ‘We are committed to providing funding that is accessible, sustainable and meaningful. This is our way of giving back.’

The profits generated from this bold and brilliant initiative are funding the ArtsPay Foundation, which aims to ‘fill the gaps with a permanent, new source of support for artists and small arts organisations’. 

You can watch the webinar in its entirety below.

Keep this page bookmarked, so that you don’t miss the next webinar in the Creative Exchange series, ‘How leadership can be more inclusive and representative of the sector‘, which will take place in May.

Madeleine Swain is ArtsHub’s managing editor. Originally from England where she trained as an actor, she has over 25 years’ experience as a writer, editor and film reviewer in print, television, radio and online. She is also currently Vice Chair of JOY Media.