Creative Victoria is a government body dedicated to supporting, championing and growing the state's creative industries, spanning arts, culture, screen and design.
We are part of the Victorian Government's Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR) and report to the Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley MP.
Martin Foley is Victoria's Minister for Creative Industries, appointed in December 2014. He brings to the portfolio a strong connection to Victoria's creative scene and a passion for what arts, culture and creativity can contribute to the future of the state. He is the State Member of Albert Park, an electorate with a rich cultural heritage and one that is home to a wide range of creative organisations, venues, businesses and practitioners – across arts, screen, digital games and design.
He is also the Minister for Mental Health and Minister for Equality.
Below, Minister Foley tells us what it means to be Victoria's first Creative Industries Minister, why creativity matters, and reveals his hidden creative talent.
- What is your earliest arts memory?
I remember finger-painting at the Mornington South Kindergarten. Red and green handprints. I remember I took pleasure in doing it.
- What is your favourite work of art, and why?
When I was 17 I left school and I bought the book Don Quixote, this great big 17th-century piece of work. It was to keep me company on a job droving sheep on the stock routes the other side of Hay in the summer of 1980. There I was on a hot, dry plain, miles from anywhere, stuck with a grumpy old drover who was 10 miles ahead. I had a lot of reading time. I read that book cover to cover four times.
So my favourite piece of art is a Picasso lithograph, Don Quixote. Because I know how the Don feels, tilting at windmills and all that sort of thing. The power of the noble goal and a man who pursued justice and never lost hope despite the odds, even though that sometimes meant a denial of reality. And he had to endure the wicked doings of the Sancho Panzas of the world and their false affections. It resonates. I know how the Don feels.
My other favourite piece of art is The Cricketers, by Drysdale. It's so Australian. Its colours are all about the raw light that sets Australian art apart. And it speaks to me about the way that taking a bat and ball and having a swing at any time works in our culture. The fact that Drysdale would pick that up, with two blokes picking up a bat and a ball behind a pub, appeals to my frustrated longing to captain an Ashes test.
- Why does creativity matter?
It matters because it's the space in which cultural and civic development happens. It drives our lives, our institutions, our schools - our society.
Wherever there is culture, in the wider sense of what we value, creativity is the engine of it. Not just in the arts but in all sorts of different mediums: science, sport, innovation. It's about new ways thinking and seeing the world.
And in modern Australia, all those many things that speak of creativity must also be at the heart of our future economic story and our social inclusion story. That whole notion of creativity being part of the solution for a whole range of challenges to civic issues, whether it's education, or therapeutic health and well-being, or aged care or disability – you name it.
All of those things have a creative element to them which is common to creative industries and the cultural economy. So creativity matters.
- You're Victoria's first Minister for Creative Industries. What does this mean, and why is it important?
It means a new opportunity to recast what the cultural sectors in Victoria, both government and community, do, so as to broaden out their relevance and their opportunities. It means a wider cultural, economic and social framework that will allow us to set the course for a new approach to different cultural mediums and their possibilities.
- What makes you most excited about this new portfolio?
I think it's the chance to broaden out the relevance of creative activities and ensure access and participation for all Victorians as part of that cultural economy. It is also a chance – after a period in which there has been no policy framework for how government operates in this space – to set up a new institutional framework.
- What makes Victoria's arts scene special?
For over 150 years, the cultural life of Victoria has been at the centre of different schools and different expressions of art. We've had everything from the Heidelberg School, Heide, the Pram Factory and other theatre of the 70s and 80s, to today's circus boom. Our small, medium and independent cultural offerings - all intensely participatory and democratic - have been our strengths.
Wave after wave of innovation has emanated from Victoria out to the rest of Australia and to the world.
That's also been supported by our great institutions, like the State Library and the National Gallery of Victoria, over 150 years old and driving Victorian notions of identity.
Victoria was always different to the other colonies. Our cultural story has always been at the heart of where we were for a range of reasons. Our views have always been progressive, by the measure of the day, and cultural and art practice has always reflected that difference.
- Do you have any hidden creative talents?
I play a mean kazoo. Beyond that, my hidden creativity is well hidden.
Andrew Abbott has been the head of Creative Victoria since its formation in January 2015.
Andrew has held executive positions across the Victorian Public Sector, including roles in the Department of Premier and Cabinet, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, and the Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development.
In August 2013 Andrew was appointed Director of Arts Victoria – the State Government's former arts and cultural body – and in 2014-15 led its transition to Creative Victoria, with a remit to strengthen and grow a broader array of creative industries in Victoria.
In addition to being Chief Executive of Creative Victoria, Andrew is Deputy Secretary, Creative, Sport and Visitor Economy in the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions. He is responsible for the creative industries, sport, racing, tourism and major events portfolios.
Andrew is a Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (Victoria) and has an MBA from the Melbourne Business School.
Executive Director, Governance Infrastructure
Max Coffman leads a team that is responsible for overseeing Victoria's seven major arts organisations, as well as infrastructure projects across the arts portfolio. His team also has responsibility for Creative Victoria's corporate operations.
Since migrating to Australia from the United States in 2009, Max has held leadership roles in the planning and infrastructure portfolios in the Department of Premier and Cabinet, and with the Office of the Coordinator-General, which delivers the Metro Tunnel and level crossing removal projects, among many others.
Max holds an undergraduate degree in international affairs from Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and a Master’s Degree in urban and regional planning from Portland State University in Oregon.
Executive Director, Arts Investment
Jane Crawley leads a team of arts sector specialists with responsibility for the design and management of funding programs, strategic partnerships and special initiatives that support Victoria's arts and cultural sector.
Jane is an innovative and creative public sector leader with a track record in guiding large and complex arts departments and portfolios as an executive manager. Prior to joining Creative Victoria in September 2016, she was Manager of Arts Melbourne with Melbourne City Council (2010 - 2016) where she led a range of significant initiatives including Australia's first local government Arts Infrastructure Framework; strategic partnerships with key arts agencies; and the revitalisation of Arts House as Melbourne's centre for contemporary and experimental performance.
Director, Strategy, Screen and Design
Michael Hudson leads a team of industry specialists in design, fashion and screen to deliver programs and initiatives that drive innovation and economic growth, develop Victorian talent and extend Victoria's international reach and policy and program experts with responsibility for international engagement; sector-wide and corporate strategy; and sector research.
Before moving to Creative Victoria in 2014, Michael worked for 15 years at the forefront of innovation and information technology policy, and delivered programs to assist Victorian businesses, communities and government. He is a former academic and intellectual property lawyer.
Director, Strategic Marketing and Communications
Linda Fleet leads a team that promotes Creative Victoria's programs and initiatives and raises awareness and appreciation of the range, quality and value of Victoria's creative industries.
Prior to joining Creative Victoria, Linda worked in marketing and communications in both the private and public sectors. She spent a number of years in international advertising agencies, working on global brands in Sydney, Asia and Europe. including Garuda Airlines, American Express and Microsoft. She has also worked for the New Zealand Government's tourism board in Sydney and London. Linda holds an Masters in Communications and has a special interest in the application and power of brands within the digital environment.