Once driven by the pillars of the carbon economy - mining, power and manufacturing - the Lithgow region is diversifying and looking towards the creative industries to take the local economy forward.
Lithgow Councils’ Economic Development Officer Matthew Brewster said Lithgow has always been a place where people make things.
“Lithgow still provides the perfect location for practitioners in the creative industries,” he said.
“Many creative people including renowned artists, sculptors, designers and film makers live and work in the Lithgow area. The presence of creative industries are valued as indicators of a revitalising community and are recognised as powerful drivers of economic growth.”
As part of their drive to support this sector, Lithgow City Council has set up a website to help promote, network and resource local creative practitioners.
Developed in conjunction with the NSW Department of Trade and Industry, the “Lithgow Creatives” website came out of talks in 2011 with local practitioners on how to best promote and support their industries.
The creative industries includes visual arts and performers but also architecture, textiles, design, digital media, publishing and media, software and interactive game development, heritage, artisans, cultural tourism, advertising and marketing and film and TV.
Mr Brewster thinks Lithgow has a number of competitive advantages that makes it particularly attractive place to set up a creative business.
Businesses are well placed to take advantage of Lithgow’s location (especially its close access to Sydney), its links to transport, affordable housing and industrial premises, a relaxed lifestyle and an existing creative community.
These factors make it possible for people to live and work in the Lithgow area while having easy access to national and international markets.
Council support is also a key part of this mix, says Matthew Brewster.
“Lithgow Council has adopted a proactive ‘open for business’ attitude that welcomes and assists new businesses or practitioners coming into our region,” he said.
The new “Lithgow Creatives” website will be a free service for practitioners who are operating in the Lithgow Local Government Area and generating commercial returns from a creative industry. The site will showcase creative businesses with a service description and multiple images. A virtual gallery will feature temporary exhibitions from member practitioners. News, events and resources for the creative industry sector will be bill-boarded and practitioners and clients will be able to network through social media.
Greater visibility of the creative industries, Matthew Brewster said, could ultimately also change the very look of Lithgow’s main streets.
This is his vision of the future: “Our Main St Cultural Precinct would be filled with a cluster of creative industry practitioners with niche artisan shopfronts and gallery spaces. Students at the new and adjacent University of Western Sydney campus would have the opportunity to learn creative industry skills, creating an edgy and imaginative new cultural environment. New residents would be drawn to these lifestyle opportunities which in turn would create a population critical mass that would further attract new business investment and services into the Lithgow community.”
To list your business or practice on the new website, fill out an online Expression of Interest form at www.business.lithgow.com, or pick up a brochure and form from Lithgow City Council’s customer service counter.