At leading documentary maker Richard Todd’s retreat Riverzedge a casual lunch was arranged with facilitation by the SWDC (South West Development Commission) and what is now Ausindustry. Consisting of legendary glass blower Gerry Reilly, visual effects creator Mike Dunn, music producer (originally from Canada) Noah Shilki, and well-known film sector personalities Alan Lindsay and Jennifer Gheradi a conversation began to blossom.
What was clear to the group assembled was that the South West had horsepower and was increasingly growing into a melting pot of ideas, a rich creative centre that could be a pivotal part of the regional community to help creative industries thrive alongside the environment’s biodiversity, rugged coastline and surf and prolific wine region reputation.
It was agreed there was something unique about the ecosystem, and this band of diverse creatives and the round table agreed to develop a “networking group” to start to leverage and build on this collective energy, and thus the Creative Corner was born, the name depicting the South West Corner of WA.
Within a few weeks the first networking event was staged at Caves House with a few special guests – the CEO of the WA Music Association Paul Bodolovich, along with Australian rep of the infamous South by South West Music festival and a micro documentary of the festival over 20 years was screened . Mat Lewis (founding member) had an idea for a Global Marketing Conference for the region based off the diversity he saw in this early event. Looking around the room, the group realised marketing was too narrow a term, and a lateral approach to creativity to honour the characters present kicked off a conversation around what a festival would look like – and landed on the Emergence Creative Festival, which launched in 2013 with an industry conference and satellite events showcasing the talent and the region. The festival ran between 2013 – 2019 and in 2016 the Creative was part of the development of the Cabin Fever festival, which is now managed by Ahoy Management.
With Mat the Austrade representative the South West Development Commission had seen the Creative sector becoming an international priority and the music, film and art of the South West and drove an economic study that validated the cultural and economic value to the regional economy, reinforcing the ideas that the group had already put into motion.
The informal networking group had quickly become a semi-formal organisation, with a small festival kicking off and a number of further networking events (fondly referred to as Creative Cleansers) in the pipeline, and it needed a logo.
Along came Scott Robinson from HayShed Hill to the next meeting, and being a designer created the unique logo of the round circled Creative Corner (without a corner). This was kind of symbolic of the Creative Corner, with an unorthodox approach to driving an organisation let alone a creative movement.
With some seed funding from Regional Development Australia and the South West Development Commission the Creative Corner was able to engage former legendary ABC presenter and producer Niomi O’hara as the General manager who initiated the current Hub Manager role for Regional Arts WA, with the energetic Natasha Birch between 2018-2020 and Emergence stalwart Stuart McMillan 2020-2022 taking on the role as we entered the pandemic.
Kali Norman has recently become the Hub Manager after spending a year on the board and loving all things creative. With newly pumped up board members and rock star treasurer Ian Smith keeping the organisation afloat, seeing bright times ahead.
Going forward, the Creative Corner’s new art gallery is coming online, more festivals are being brought to life, and an increased number of workshops are being developed and delivered to further support and grow the South West Creative ecosystem that so many of the State’s great thinkers and ideators have helped to develop and promote.