​Full STEAM ahead in the digital economy

AMPAG has called on the Federal Government to incorporate the arts and creative industries in its drive to push forward with the digital economy.


​Full STEAM ahead in the digital economy

In its submission responding to the government’s consultation paper, The Digital Economy: opening up the conversation, AMPAG* reiterated that without including the arts in its innovation agenda, the country is not realising the full potential of a creative and inventive workforce.

‘It’s a mistake to think that the digital economy is solely about technology,’ Bethwyn Serow, Executive Director of AMPAG, said.

‘Digital engagement is about people—and the challenges identified in the government’s paper are as much about human capacity as they are about hardware and software.’

AMPAG has used its response to the paper to again propose that the government adopt a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, maths) approach to the national Digital Economic Strategy including its approach to education, rather than simply STEM.

Professor Genevieve Bell, former Intel vice-president and now head of the ANU–CSIRO’s Autonomy, Agency and Assurance Institute, known as the 3A Institute, agrees.

‘You need the arts and the humanities as much as the sciences because that's how you build a nation ... We sometimes get so focused on the tyranny of STEM we forget there are all these other ways of making sense of the world that are valuable and useful’, she said.

The Arts sector’s potential to engage in digital innovation can be seen in the application of digital technology in a variety of ways both onstage behind the scenes in design, administration and engagement with their followers.

‘The importance of taking creative risks and seeding innovation is well recognised across the MPAs, but there is a tension in balancing risk with financial stability. For many companies, philanthropy is increasingly relied upon to top up core operation funding. This contributes to the scarcity of R&D funding for ambitious new works and ways of working.

The Department of Employment’s Industry Employment Projections 2017 expects jobs in the Arts and Recreational Services sector to grow by 13.8% 2017–2022, the sixth highest growth sector, with the total number of new positions greater than the IT sector and just behind Financial Services sector. Within this, the performing arts are expected to generate 5.9% jobs growth.[1]

Successfully transitioning to an innovative digital economy requires a shift in Australia’s policy settings to encompass the role of the arts and creative industries in developing creative, innovative and connected individuals, as well as jobs that rely on human creative and emotional intelligence.

To read AMPAG's full submission see attached

*In 2016, the MPAs estimated that 17.5 million people watched or listened to a broadcast or screening of an MPA company performance, up from 13 million in 2015.

In 2016, the MPAs had over 63 million social media visits and over 12 million website visits.

[1]Department of Employment report: Industry/Occupations projections 2017–2022,http://lmip.gov.au/default.aspx?LMIP/GainInsights/EmploymentProjections