Scholarship to boost growth of creative industries in Blue Mountains and beyond

Creative industries cluster manager for Blue Mountains Economic Enterprise (BMEE) Ann Niddrie has been awarded a scholarship from Economic Development Australia (EDA) – Australia’s peak national body for economic development – for creative industries cluster research.

The study tour scholarship program will see Ms Niddrie travel to the US and Europe in May 2019 to research other successful economic development initiatives. She will then apply her findings to developing the Blue Mountains creative industries, as well as support future developments in cluster research by sharing her learnings at the 2019 National EDA conference.

The $5000 scholarship, which was awarded to Ms Niddrie at the EDA annual conference in Rockhampton last week, is the first and only of its kind aimed at emerging economic development practitioners. Chief executive officer of EDA, Jacqueline Brinkman, said Ms Niddrie’s success in “a very competitive field” is reflective of her achievements in developing the local creative industries economy to date.

“This is a great opportunity to build on the momentum and work BMEE has already done with initiatives such as MTNS MADE, and share those findings with the rest of the country,” said Ms Brinkman. “It will help the region to build its own competitiveness in the creative industries and to use this as a lever for economic development.”

Ann Niddrie

Ann Niddrie

Niddrie herself is excited by what the scholarship will mean for the Blue Mountains.

“I’ll be researching how other cities got their commercialised makers communities up and running, and how they continued them, which is something the Blue Mountains community has been constantly crying out for.”

Ms Niddrie’s travels will take her to Portland, Oregon, to observe its ‘makerspace’ community of artists and entrepreneurs; as well as Jutland in Denmark, which has a burgeoning local film scene.

“Jutland’s film industry is unique in that the government, tertiary education institutions and filmmakers all work together, helping to drive economic development,” she said.

Blue Mountains film producer Ramana Dienes-Browning is thrilled Ann Niddrie will be bringing knowledge of Jutland’s collaborative approach back home.

“We have an incredible amount of creative and talented people in the Blue Mountains film industry, but it’s a bit disjointed. Ann’s research into other strong-functioning film communities will help make ours more cohesive and supported.”

The benefits of the scholarship will not only be felt in the Blue Mountains.

“That’s very much part of what we were judged on,” said Ms Niddrie, “how the project is going to have an impact locally and how it will help other people and communities around the country.”