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Anna Burkey, head of Start Space at the State Library of Victoria. Photo: James Braund Photographer.

Kerrie O’Brien, Startups for artists announced, with $200,000 up for grabs in seed funding, The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 June 2018

Startups traditionally operate in the technological world but a new initiative announced by the state government will provide funding for artists to help them get their businesses off the ground.

Announcing the initiative on Wednesday, the Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley said the program will help emerging creative entrepreneurs, organisations and collectives turn their ideas into successful businesses.

Called Foundry658, it is part of the Victorian Government’s Creative State strategy; the announcement comes ahead of next week’s 2018 Creative State Summit, to be held at the Melbourne Museum.

Artists from any field, including visual arts, theatre, film and television, media, publishing, fashion, digital games and design are eligible for the funding and a total pool of $200,000 will be up for grabs, with $20,000 for 10 individuals or teams. There are no caveats on how that $20,000 can be spent.

Eligible creative ideas don’t need a technology component, just a strong idea to build a sustainable income stream or transform the creative sector more broadly.

Led by the State Library and ACMI, the program takes the techniques of the technology sector – where incubators, labs and accelerator programs help foster new business ideas – and applies them to the creative industries.

The program includes an annual regional roadshow and boot camps to support up to 50 creative entrepreneurs and artists to develop their business idea. The 10 successful applicants for the funding will then participate in an intensive three-month Accelerator program, which involves being assigned a mentor and a business coach.

The program is open to emerging or established artists, says Anna Burkey, the manager of StartSpace at the State Library of Victoria, an entrepreneur hub set to open next year as part of the library’s $88.1 million redevelopment.

Once the artists get into the Accelerator, it can be an intense process. “Effectively we’re putting them through a three month MBA. It helps them figure out really quickly what are their strengths … and how can we help them make the most of those strengths,” says Burkey.

“We’re really interested in supporting artists who want to look at alternative business models, different ways to potentially bring in funding for their work.”

She hopes to see practitioners working together, maybe a fashion designer wanting to move into the tech space, for example.

“The business side of things is often a challenge for artists. You go into the creative industries because you love your work and you want to have as wide an audience as you can, but trying to get that work out to bigger audiences, that’s often not the angle that people come into the industry from.”

Open from July this year, the artists selected will be working from ACMI, with the aim of the second year’s intake working from the State Library. Foundry658 is fully funded for one year with a second year likely.

“It would be fantastic if we found the next best thing – the Uber of the creative industries – but realistically we’re just as interested in emerging artists to firm up their business models and think up different ways of doing things.”

For more information and to apply, see https://www.slv.vic.gov.au/foundry658

Council of Australasian Museum Directors, c/o Ms Daryl Karp, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House PO Box 3934 Manuka, Australian Capital Territory 2603 Australia, © CAMD 2021
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