The creative industries: reborn in a digital age
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The creative industries: reborn in a digital age

In the age of technological domination, students from creative disciplines could be forgiven for questioning their choice of industry. While numerous attempts have been made to emphasise the civilising role of arts and culture to society, today’s graduates require more robust evidence; what better confirmation than examples of employment opportunities?

Never has there been a better, more exciting time to pursue a career within the creative industries. In the US, creative industries led by Hollywood have added approximately $504 billion to the country’s GDP, which represents at least 3.2% of US goods and services. Across the Atlantic, the UK’s creative sector, described by the Culture Secretary as an “economic powerhouse”, has expanded by 8.6% since 2011.

A common misconception among prospective students who perceive technology and the arts to be distinct, opposing fields is that employment opportunities are born solely of scientific or technological qualifications. This could not be further from the truth. Digital technology has not killed creativity, but has aided its regeneration.

The internet has proved invaluable to the music industry in recent years. Blame (or praise, depending on one’s perspective) for the discovery of Justin Bieber can be laid definitively at the door of YouTube; internationally acclaimed pianist Valentina Lisitsa rose to fame in a similar way. The advancement of technology is aiding the development of the music industry by providing more advanced means of discovering and kick-starting the careers of budding musicians.

Digital media is also affecting the destruction of boundaries between audience and performer within the musical sphere: the aforementioned Lisitsa, renowned for her progressive approach to her own art, added an intriguingly interactive dimension to her appearance in the 2014 Bristol Proms by encouraging members of the audience to tweet, film, Instagram and even play the piano themselves during her performance. No longer is music the pursuit of the elite who have money to spare for school peripatetic music lessons; today’s industry is entirely more accessible, diverse and, aided by the internet, international.

Ruby Wood, a graduate from Leeds College of Music and singer with the globally acclaimed Submotion Orchestra, has watched and experienced the transformation of the creative industry from within since her graduation in 2008. Wood comments that “opportunities for creativity are developing alongside technology, which is leading to the emergence of a huge number of exciting new jobs. Today, artists from all genres have many more options; they could focus on film, soundtracks, technical production or even advertising.”

Recognition of the creative industries’ breadth is hugely important. With openings in areas ranging from film and digital advertising to fashion design and architecture, graduates are capable of making professional impact on a global scale. A key example of the capacity of creativity to convey meaning to an international audience is evident at Heathrow airport’s new Terminal 2, which became home to ‘Slipstream’, Richard Wilson’s 77-ton, riveted aluminium sculpture based on a model Spitfire, earlier this year. Not only does this piece of creative innovation continue to impress tourists; it also adds lustre to Britain’s creative image overseas.

The prospects for those pursuing careers within the creative industries are not only numerous but also prolific. Prospective students need not fear the prospect of battling for opportunities or employment; the discipline, expansive in itself, continues to enjoy the same rapid growth and transformation as technology. The creative industries have not died, but have been reborn, and offer today’s graduates more fascinating, rewarding options than ever before.

Further information regarding institutions in the UK, US and Australia which offer qualifications in the creative industries can be found below.

An internationally acclaimed institution renowned for its energetic student population, Leeds College of Music (LCoM) is a superb option for those keen to carve their own pathway through the music industry. The College, a member of Conservatoires UK (CUKAS) hosting approximately 1,000 students, is the only UK conservatoire to offer specialist programmes in classical, jazz and popular music in addition to in-depth study of music production at both Further and Higher Education levels. Students are promised a uniquely dynamic, collaborative learning experience. Read the full profile here.

Ranked among the top 4% of the world’s universities in the recent QS World University Rankings, Griffith University is recognised as one of the most innovative tertiary institutions in Australia and among the most influential universities in the Asia-Pacific region. An impressive multi-campus institution with internationally acclaimed teaching and research resources, the university offers more than 300 degrees and is home to over 43,000 students from 131 countries. Since its establishment in 2004, Griffith Film School (GFS) has rapidly gained the status of one the most respected film and screen media production institutions in the country and is recognised for its dedication to preparing the next generation of film-makers, animators and game designers for careers in the international media industry. Read the full profile here.

Defining itself as a laboratory for artistic experiment with matchless commitment to student support, Plymouth College of Art promises its attendees a combination of high quality tuition and myriad opportunities to gain valuable experience within industry. Both traditional and visionary in its approach, the College prides itself on its maintenance of a balance between focus upon established arts such as print or analogue photography and progressive, digital techniques. Despite offering a number of the most highly-respected digital courses and equipment in the UK, Plymouth College of Art continues to adapt and improve its more conventional courses. From Foundation Degrees and Diplomas to postgraduate qualifications, students have access to an extensive range of flexible course options, all of which provide the skills and expertise fundamental to a career within industry. Read the full profile here.

Rated as the number 1 university in Australia and number 34 in the world in the 2013-4 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the University of Melbourne is a public-spirited institution which strives to make a significant contribution to society, particularly in the fields of research, tuition and engagement with wider society. The University’s Faculty of Arts, a stimulating hub of innovation and creativity, comprises five schools which offer course options to cater for all interests. Ranging from the Asia Institute to the School of Culture and Communication, the Faculty of Arts’ innovative Schools offer their students course options as diverse as literary and cultural studies, cinema and performance and Australian indigenous studies.

West Virginia University, consistently ranking among the top 100 Public Universities in the USA, prides itself on its status as a pioneering, tireless and progressive institution. A leader in the fields of innovation and engagement, West Virginia University’s College of the Creative Arts advocates the arts as a medium through which the diversity of human experience can be explored and understood. The College comprises Schools of Art and Design, Theatre and Dance and Music, each of which offers students professionally accredited courses taught by experienced members of staff. The combination of dedicated tutors, one-to-one classes and extensive performance and exhibition opportunities results in a dynamic learning environment in which students are able to excel. Read the full profile here.

An institution recognised for its welcoming atmosphere and supportive environment, Mount Royal is keen to encourage its students to feel at home within the university community. Its achievement of a delicate balance between a thriving, 12,000-strong student body and small class groups ensures that each student receives tuition of a consistently exemplary quality. Mount Royal’s Faculty of Arts provides its students with the opportunity to gain both subject-specific and transferrable skills, thus supporting their progress into industry. Course options range from History and Philosophy to Interior Design, Sociology and Anthropology and Women’s studies, allowing students to lay the foundations for their entry to a discipline of their choice.