Newcastle grows as high-tech creative hub

THE Hunter’s creative industries sector, including digital media and internet services, is the fastest growing in the state outside of Sydney, and should be given greater encouragement to develop into an ‘‘innovation hub’’, a new report says.

The creative industries 10-year action plan includes recommendations that senior ministers should recognise the significance of the sector the state’s economy and help promote 

In the Hunter, creative industries have emerged as a significant sector, with about five thousand people employed in media production, the performing arts, advertising and internet services.

Between 2006 and 2011, the sector grew by 11.7 per cent, putting its growth rate behind only Sydney with 20.5 per cent.

More people worked directly in the state’s creative industries than within its agricultural and mining industries combined, the report said.

The sector’s exports are worth about $1.4 billion to the state’s economy each year.

Regional Development Australia Hunter hosted stakeholder meetings in the region before providing a submission to the government taskforce that produced the report.

Regional Development Australia Hunter chief executive Todd Williams said he was surprised at the ingenuity of creative industry companies in the region and the success they were experiencing, particularly those based on internet services who had clients overseas

The University of Newcastle was also working on a creative arts centre proposal and, along with the presence of Hunter TAFE, were helping to fuel the development of creative industries in the region through 

‘‘Newcastle is recognised in the [report] as an area that is expected to see with the rollout of high speed broadband, so that’s something we can use to pursue funding support,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s really a successful industry that is important to the economy and is not getting the attention it deserves.’’

The government has said it would consider the report, which says hubs be encouraged in regions such as Newcastle, but has already adopted some recommendations such as using the Vivid Sydney festival to promote Sydney internationally.

Greens MP Jan Barham said the government had supported some important big-ticket intiatives with a Sydney focus, but had overlooked opportunities in regional areas.

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