When Kate Miller-Heidke took to the stage to cap off CreateX, our spectacular inaugural festival to celebrate the multi-million dollar Creative Industries Precinct expansion, she epitomised an industry that has come of age.
In full operatic vocal glory while performing her latest composition, You underestimated me, dude, she left an audience in a collective gasp, in awe of the extensive talents of QUT’s 2016 Alumnus of the Year.
Creative Industries Faculty Executive Dean Professor Mandy Thomas said as the world’s first university to establish a Creative Industries Faculty, QUT was considered an international leader in this sphere.
She said the $88 million precinct expansion, recently opened on the Kelvin Grove campus, provided the university with the most sophisticated and technically advanced creative education and research space in Australia.
Its centrepiece is a six-storey building accommodating dance, drama, music, visual arts, creative writing and animation. The complex, which houses the nation’s only dedicated creative industries R&D lab, pulses with a digital backbone that enables audio, video and data streaming throughout the precinct, to other QUT facilities such as The Cube, and beyond to the world.
Professor Thomas said open and communal design principles were embraced to foster collaboration and spark imaginative works across disciplines.
“While geared towards the future, the complex also pays tribute to Kelvin Grove’s rich Indigenous and military history with four buildings of historical significance, including the Frank Moran Memorial Hall, now a dedicated visual arts gallery, and a 1914 infantry drill hall,” she said.
“The precinct also extends across the heritage-listed Gona Army Barracks site.
“Spaces such as Kulgun Park, named for the Turrbal word meaning path or road, are a mark of respect to the Turrbal people who lived in the area prior to the arrival of Europeans.”
The expansion adds greatly to the university’s original Creative Industries Precinct built in 2004 and ground breaking in its own right.
“QUT’s new complex is fit for the digital revolution now driving creative industries’ growth,” Professor Thomas said.
“This facility provides the impetus for an acceleration of research.”
Two of the Faculty’s research centres, the Digital Research Media Centre at Kelvin Grove and Design Lab at Gardens Point, pursue a transdisciplinary approach to assist society adapt to digital media technologies and address emerging issues facing our cities, including urban planning and environmental sustainability.
The third research centre, the new Creative Lab, reflects the 21st Century need for greater ability to think creatively, particularly in light of the impact automation and machine learning is having on jobs.
Professor Thomas said research within the new centre would be geared towards better understanding the nature of creativity, enabling the university to build the creative thinking capabilities of students across disciplines and courses.
“QUT’s new complex is fit for the digital revolution now driving creative industries’ growth.”
She said new facilities and research emphasis along with teaching excellence would ensure graduates could not merely take advantage of opportunities but forge their own.
Professor Thomas said students could look to Ms Miller-Heidke, whose career embodied versatility, independence and entrepreneurship, for insight.
Graduating with a Master of Music in 2006, and also classically trained at the Queensland Conservatorium, the high-profile singer-songwriter has performed in operas across the world and composed her own opera, The Rabbits, which won four Helpmann Awards including Best Score and Best New Australian work.
With a successful career in alternative pop music and four studio albums released, Ms Miller-Heidke has also achieved multi-platinum status and eight ARIA nominations. Her albums and singles have appeared in the top 10 charts many times over.
“An inspiration to our students as well as current and aspiring artists, Ms Miller-Heidke, is also our Creative Industries Outstanding Alumnus of the Year,” Professor Thomas said.
“She has forged an independent path, breaking crowd-funding records with her latest album O Vertigo! which debuted at number four on the Australian album charts.”
Professor Thomas said whatever discipline a career of tomorrow was based upon, success would call for creative and entrepreneurial thought, digital capability and an independent spirit.
“We believe QUT will be in the best possible position to deliver on this ambition,” she said.