Arts missing out on innovations

30/07/2008 - 22:00

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Mining engineers, scientists and technology entrepreneurs should collaborate with innovators in the arts sector to produce outcomes that benefit all sectors, the WA Business News boardroom forum was told.

Arts missing out on innovations

Mining engineers, scientists and technology entrepreneurs should collaborate with innovators in the arts sector to produce outcomes that benefit all sectors, the WA Business News boardroom forum was told.

"With the enormous technology and advanced innovation hidden behind the resource sector, imagine if you had hybridised programming, brought that out and moved it across, imagine if you had engineers working with Pica for instance," Form executive director Lynda Dorrington said.

Australian Business Arts Foundation WA manager Henry Boston agrees that innovators in industry and the arts are failing to collaborate.

"Innovation, science, artists and business are in areas where the strength of all these sectors is up against each other," Mr Boston said.

McKenzie Moncrieff partner and Black Swan Theatre board member Rob McKenzie said there was a wealth of technology and science innovation in WA that could feed the arts if the sectors would collaborate.

"We've seen some extraordinary things in robotics and testing of welding and things like that; we've got some of the world's great businesses and there are very interesting areas coming out of that and people with incredible skills at manufacturing very obscure things," Mr McKenzie said.

Pica director Amy Barrett-Lennard believes closer integration between the sectors won't occur naturally.

"You need to put into place mechanisms to support that, it's not just going to happen because the two sectors exist," she said.

WA Art Gallery acting director Gary Dufour said the crossover was starting to happen but was very limited.

"There's a bit of crossover too, with people who take skills and merge them together, between the visualisation of what you need to mine, which will be the exact same technology that you use in film animation," Mr Dufour told the forum.

"But those crossovers aren't being mapped yet as opportunities."

Ms Dorrington said more work was needed at a state government level to systemise collaboration between sectors.

"What it results in from our strong economy is an enormous wealth in a very niche market of the community, and it takes a lot of innovation on behalf of the government of the day to systemise or bring out into different areas, the benefits," she said.

PricewaterhouseCoopers partner Frank Cooper said collaboration between sectors could be beneficial, but he was keen to see more government support for innovation with the arts itself.

"The state government underfunds (the arts) compared to a number of other states, if it were to increase that funding it should go to innovation funds. Innovation gives the chance to artists to take risks, to develop their artistic development locally, and the arts can't do that in the financial frame they are in at the moment," he said.

Ms Dorrington said another issue was that, although WA trained more 'creatives' per capita than any other state - people who generated intellectual property, be they engineers, scientists, or in advertising - the state had a net loss each year.

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