Can Adelaide become a creative hub?
If you were asked to pick the most ‘creative’ cities in the world, where would you name? San Francisco? New York? Paris? Maybe Sydney? Chances are you wouldn’t pick the mid-west American town of Omaha, Nebraska. Omaha has always been a bit of a tired town. Its livelihood has been centred on business, with fur trading, stockyards and railroads. For decades young people have picked up left in search of bigger, more ‘creative’ cities. It’s a story that’s close to home.
Adelaide has long suffered from a ‘brain drain’, particularly in the creative industries. If you quiz any young creative person in Adelaide you’ll probably hear about their eventual plans to head east. We’ve resigned to the fact that the most creative among us will probably leave in search of the flashing lights of Australia’s bigger cities. We don’t even think about coaxing outsiders here.
Back in Omaha things have changed dramatically. It all started eight years ago when a couple of young, ambitious entrepreneurs chose to stick around, bucking the trend set by their peers. They saw something in Omaha that others didn’t and set out to uncover the creative potential of their city. They were a part of a remarkable wave that swept the town at the turn of the centaury. Omaha began to be known for its creativity. Talented artists started emerging, the work of photographers began to be showcased across the US, and local bands hit the big time. Creative people started moving back from San Francisco and New York. Today, countless young architects, web designers, photographers and advertising people now call Omaha home.
This small city in Nebraska is one of many examples from all around the world where creativity has been embraced to eventually become their lifeblood. Our New Zealand cousins have experienced this first hand. Last week Peter Fields, the international researcher and author, said that New Zealand advertising creatives are among the best in the world, declaring that ”New Zealand advertising and marketing agencies are particularly good at seizing new opportunities in communications and producing the kind of rich, integrated campaigns that work so much harder.”
It’s interesting to see what these cities have in common. Auckland has a population of 1.2 million people. Omaha has about 900,000. Other cities known for their creativity like Portland, Edinburgh, Montreal and Antwerp also have small populations. It seems there’s a certain magic in cities of this size.
I was recently interviewed by Encore journalist Georgina Pearson, who’s based in Sydney. She asked me why I haven’t packed up and moved interstate. I explained how I believe Adelaide has all the ingredients to become another one of these creative cities. We’re a city that excels at the arts as demonstrated by our world-class festivals. We’re a city with beautiful architecture. We’re a city uniquely surrounded by hills, vineyards and beaches. And we’re just the right size.
Like Omaha, Adelaide has the opportunity to build its creative industries. To create world class work. To excite people outside of the State. To become the creative hub we deserve to be.
Jeremy Ervine is the general manager of Adelaide ad agency Fnucky
- This article first appeared in the relaunched print edition of Encore magazine. To subscribe, click here