YER­ING STA­TION

Cre­at­ing a plat­form for cre­ative ex­change.

Neue Luxury - - Front Page - By Neue Lux­ury

In many ways cre­ative col­lab­o­ra­tion has be­come the key to mar­ket­ing and busi­ness expansion in the 21st cen­tury. The trou­ble is, not enough of our big­gest and most ca­pa­ble busi­nesses know it yet. Cham­pi­oned his­tor­i­cally by those clos­est to the epi­cen­tre of cul­tural and cre­ative prac­tice, there have been nu­mer­ous con­tem­po­rary ex­am­ples to in­spire and com­fort even the most scep­ti­cal CFO’S. Tech­nol­ogy gi­ant IBM used rad­i­cal col­lab­o­ra­tion to save their lead­ing edge chip tech­nol­ogy busi­ness by open­ing their doors to com­peti­tors in or­der to share re­search. HUB, a col­lab­o­ra­tive plat­form, es­tab­lished a unique global ecosys­tem of peo­ple, places and ideas ded­i­cated to cre­at­ing in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions for a more sus­tain­able world. While Mi­crosoft col­lab­o­rated on their Xbox Kinect plat­form to de­velop a hands free tech­nol­ogy as­sist­ing sur­geons in the op­er­at­ing room.

So why do those ca­pa­ble of re­al­is­ing the rich­est tapestry of col­lab­o­ra­tion of­ten favour the most vanilla form of its ex­pres­sion, the all per­sua­sive and rudi­men­tary nomen­cla­ture of brands? Karl Lager­feld for H&M, Jean Paul Gaultier for Piper-hei­d­sieck Cham­pagne, Stella Mccart­ney for Tar­get. What hap­pened to the sub­stance? What hap­pened to our ex­pec­ta­tions as par­tic­i­pants?

Mr Mark Cun­liffe, Brand Man­ager of Yer­ing Sta­tion, a win­ery sit­u­ated in one of Aus­tralia’s old­est wine re­gions, ad­mits he wasn’t quick to see the po­ten­tial in a new plat­form for cre­ative col­lab­o­ra­tion – he was think­ing more about the nu­ances of wine. But in Jan­uary 2013 he was cer­tainly re­spon­si­ble for bring­ing one to life. Pas­sion­ate about es­tab­lish­ing an on­go­ing plat­form where new pos­si­bil­i­ties could flour­ish from the fer­tile ter­roir of col­lab­o­ra­tive ideation, knowl­edge shar­ing, re­source pool­ing and in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary think­ing, Mr Cun­liffe and the Yer­ing Sta­tion team as­sem­bled a list of Aus­tralia’s most for­mi­da­ble and in­flu­en­tial cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions to dis­cuss the fu­ture of com­mer­cial and cre­ative prac­tice. As a re­sult, the Yer­ing Sta­tion Cre­ative Work­shop 1.01 was born.

The event com­menced with a cof­fee in Yer­ing’s spa­cious and wellap­pointed restau­rant. Over­look­ing the an­cient ter­rain of the Yarra Val­ley, the his­tory of the site was am­pli­fied by Yer­ing’s large con­tem­po­rary ar­chi­tec­tural foot­print. In many ways it was a fit­ting metaphor for the ven­ture – con­tem­po­rary frame­work / ar­chae­o­log­i­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The work­shop it­self was held in one of Yer­ing’s her­itage listed barns and be­gan with the in­tro­duc­tion to the in­ner work­ings of our most re­spected in­sti­tu­tions. The Melbourne Writer’s Fes­ti­val, Heide Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art, Bal­letlab, Melbourne Spring Fash­ion Week, Spirit of the Black Dress, Bi­en­nale of Syd­ney, Ma­te­ri­al­byprod­uct, Queens­land Art Gallery – Gallery Of Mod­ern Art (QAGOMA), 3 Deep, Chunky Move, Melbourne Fes­ti­val, Melbourne Arts Cen­tre and artist Amelia Lack­mann all in­tro­duced their com­mer­cial ob­jec­tives, idio­syn­cratic chal­lenges, cur­rent af­fil­i­a­tions and fu­ture as­pi­ra­tions. Mr Cun­liffe, a gra­cious and pas­sion­ate host, fa­cil­i­tated the dis­cus­sion and del­i­cately formed con­nec­tions be­tween each of the cre­ative gi­ants. It was im­pres­sive and sub­tle in equal mea­sure.

Mr Cun­liffe en­thu­si­as­ti­cally af­firmed that “the op­por­tu­nity we have to en­gage and in­ter­act with such an in­flu­en­tial and in­spir­ing group is be­yond mea­sure.” At all times through­out the morn­ing he ad­vo­cated for the no­tion

that al­liances are crit­i­cal to the longevity of Yer­ing’s busi­ness and that when man­aged with care and thought each can be im­mensely re­ward­ing. Not only for the or­gan­i­sa­tions, but for their cus­tomers, their pa­trons and their sup­port­ers. “Tak­ing on the chal­lenge of ad­dress­ing and nur­tur­ing our part­ners was the ob­vi­ous next step.”

Mr Cun­liffe recog­nises that in Yer­ing’s case, al­liances in the arts sec­tor are of­ten shared. “Col­lec­tively I’m in­ter­ested in ex­plor­ing so­lu­tions to all of our shared chal­lenges, whether that be around rais­ing aware­ness, driv­ing vis­i­ta­tion, un­der­stand­ing con­sumer de­sires or cri­tiquing the fun­da­men­tal struc­ture and fab­ric of our cul­tural land­scape.”

Ms Zoe Gra­ham, Se­nior Spon­sor­ship and Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment Of­fi­cer from Queens­land Art Gallery and the Gallery of Mod­ern Art (QAGOMA), said, “The real high-light for me was that they (Yer­ing) re­ally mean what they say in terms of they want to sup­port the arts and cul­tural cre­ativ­i­ties, with­out hid­ing the fact that they are us­ing it as a plat­form for their beau­ti­ful wines. It’s just ex­cit­ing to be a part of that and to be a part of such a priv­i­leged group and be re­ally in­volved with them.”

Through­out the work­shop it be­came ap­par­ent that there were com­mon chal­lenges for each or­gan­i­sa­tion that were un­der­pinned by re­sourc­ing, dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion, the need for more sub­stan­tial part­ner­ships, fund­ing, re-en­gag­ing cur­rent au­di­ences and es­tab­lish­ing a greater na­tional and in­ter­na­tional foot­print.

Mr Luke Mckin­non, Mar­ket­ing and De­vel­op­ment Man­ager from Chunky Move and Ms Fiona Kelly, Head of Mar­ket­ing and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions from Melbourne Fes­ti­val, both re­it­er­ated the need to re­po­si­tion their brands in a fluid and dy­namic land­scape. Ms Kelly in­tro­duced plans for a new brand roll­out in 2013, which she said was ig­nited by the need to re­de­fine the fes­ti­val brand to ne­ces­si­tate the chang­ing sen­si­bil­i­ties of the city. Ms Kelly also dis­cussed the suc­cess of the Fes­ti­val Hub erected on the bank of the Yarra River. The Hub re­sponded to the young and vi­brant na­ture of Melbourne city and es­tab­lished a broader spec­trum of au­di­ence through gen­er­at­ing a new mode of en­gage­ment with the com­mu­nity.

Mr Mckin­non specif­i­cally high­lighted the need for Chunky Move to “Change pre-con­ceived no­tions of what con­tem­po­rary dance is” in or­der to es­tab­lish a po­si­tion of longevity for the brand while si­mul­ta­ne­ously hav­ing a greater in­flu­ence on cul­ture. He was also ex­cited by the prospects of the Yer­ing Sta­tion Cre­ative Work­shop 1.01, “We have a whole bunch of au­di­ences that we can tap into in dif­fer­ent states, at its base level it’s fan­tas­tic for all of the or­gan­i­sa­tions. I hope it’s the start of some­thing new and dif­fer­ent that we can do as part­ners.”

As the nu­mer­i­cal ti­tle of the work­shop sug­gests, Mr Cun­liffe be­lieves that the ini­tia­tive was one of in­tro­duc­tion and that “Now is the time where peo­ple can go away and think about ideas, the new ways of work­ing and how each or­ga­ni­za­tion can con­trib­ute. In 6 months time we will re­con­vene and start to bring spe­cific ini­tia­tives to life. The con­sis­tent feed­back we keep hear­ing is that this process is evo­lu­tion­ary and out­comes will man­i­fest them­selves over time.”

In­ter­est­ingly, the work­shop re­vealed no­tions of com­bin­ing mul­ti­ple plat­forms to di­ver­sify top­ics and ex­pe­ri­ences at cul­tural events. Ms Col­lette Ste­wart, Mar­ket­ing and De­vel­op­ment Man­ager for The Melbourne Writer’s Fes­ti­val, was in­ter­ested in a po­ten­tial col­lab­o­ra­tion with Bal­letlab on Bud­dhism. Ste­wart was ex­cited by the idea of an aca­demic dis­cussing no­tions of Bud­dhism and how this could be en­hanced by a cu­rated per­for­mance to cre­ate a more im­mer­sive plat­form of cul­tural ex­change.

Ms Gra­ham also wel­comes the po­ten­tial for col­lab­o­ra­tion. “I think there is a lot of ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity around cre­ative col­lab­o­ra­tion and I think as some of the peo­ple talked like Bal­letlab, Chunky Move, The Writ­ers Fes­ti­val, Melbourne Fes­ti­val and Bi­en­nale of Syd­ney about the cross col­lab­o­ra­tion and that di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion of art forms and prac­tice.” “Phillip Adams,” she said, “was talk­ing about tak­ing con­tem­po­rary dance into gal­leries and mu­se­ums and I know he isn’t just talk­ing about putting them on a lit­tle stage in a gallery, but re­ally in­hab­it­ing the space and chang­ing the per­cep­tions and un­der­stand­ing of what dance could be.”

Ms Su­san Di­masi, from lux­ury fash­ion house Ma­te­ri­al­byprod­uct (MBP), af­firmed the sig­nif­i­cance of Aus­tralia’s cul­tural fab­ric through her view on the po­ten­tial be­hind col­lab­o­ra­tion. “It’s less about cre­at­ing things and more about cre­at­ing cul­ture.” Ms Di­masi went on to dis­cuss her re­cent col­lab­o­ra­tion with Bal­letlab where the pair en­vis­aged ‘fash­ion for per­for­mance’. Her in­tu­itive ap­proach to gar­ment con­struc­tion and ma­te­rial helped to gen­er­ate a cu­ri­ous as­sort­ment of out­comes that re­sponded to the body over­time, chang­ing through­out and dur­ing a per­for­mance.

As a Lux­ury Fash­ion House that de­fines the 21st cen­tury, Ms Di­masi’s con­ta­gious view on Melbourne’s cre­ative land­scape was ex­pressed when ar­tic­u­lat­ing MBP’S role within it, “Of­ten when I try to po­si­tion MBP in peo­ples minds I say, ‘for me now, Melbourne is what 1930s Paris was.’ I have amaz­ing col­lab­o­ra­tions with Bal­letlab, Shel­ley La­sica, 3 Deep and Ju­lia deville. I don’t need to go any­where else in the world to get this sort of net­work. I have these sorts of re­la­tion­ships and col­lab­o­ra­tions on board right here, right now. Of­ten the way I try to con­tex­tu­al­ize that in peo­ple minds is that you don’t need to go over­seas to ac­cess this and you don’t need to travel back in time. I think Woody Al­lan’s movie ‘Mid­night in Paris’ summed it up beau­ti­fully, it’s hap­pen­ing right here, right now, em­brace it.”

Mr. Mckin­non from Chunky Move agrees - “The best art is of its time and you know it’s cer­tainly lodged to the past and its re­spect for the past but the best art is be­ing touched on by a lot of peo­ple to­day.” He be­lieves that those on the van­guard are merg­ing new gen­res from all spheres of the Arts. “Some­thing that chunky move has al­ways done is bro­ken the mould in terms of what con­tem­po­rary dance can be, by bring­ing in a sculp­ture artist or work­ing with mul­ti­me­dia artists and chal­leng­ing what con­tem­po­rary dance can be. The best art is al­ways chal­leng­ing the sta­tus quo to an ex­tent, or at least build­ing from it so I think that the fu­ture is bright. You just have to look at the amount of or­ga­ni­za­tions that are here to­day sup­port­ing young artists, as well their reg­u­lar pro­gram. It’s an ex­cit­ing prospect and one that I hope to be in­volved with for a long time to come.”

Artist Amelia Lack­mann gained great in­sight and built a new net­work through pre­sent­ing her work to the group. “I found it in­cred­i­bly in­spi­ra­tional for some­one who is an artist. It pro­vided a win­dow into the world of mar­ket­ing and brand­ing and how al­liance works and how that might flow into my own prac­tice in terms of ex­pand­ing. It was just great to have in­sight into what the op­tions are.”

The in­au­gu­ral Yer­ing Sta­tion Cre­ative Work­shop 1.01 was very much about new begin­nings, new part­ner­ships and new think­ing. Mr Cun­liffe and the Yer­ing Sta­tion team aim to hold the work­shops bian­nu­ally in or­der to stim­u­late con­ver­sa­tion and keep the net­works and op­por­tu­ni­ties ex­pand­ing. “There are some in­cred­i­ble thinkers in that room and I see that part of our role was to con­nect them with each other and pro­vide a cu­rated fo­rum to dis­cuss, talk and act. That was our main ob­jec­tive to be hon­est and I look for­ward to ac­tively nur­tur­ing the dis­cus­sions mov­ing for­ward. Some may not nec­es­sar­ily in­volve us, but ei­ther way we feel like we con­trib­uted to the dis­cus­sion and that’s im­por­tant for us. I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to pur­su­ing a group project to­gether, where the strength of our col­lec­tive group in­sti­gates some­thing spe­cial, some­thing last­ing. Be it an aes­thetic out­come, a new plat­form, a new work or a so­lu­tion to an ex­ist­ing so­cial prob­lem.”

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