Imagine a world without art, music, and books. A world where the imagination of a playwright didn’t lead to brilliant new stage productions and the skills of a clothing designer didn’t inspire new fashion trends.
This is a world that Stir is trying to prevent, with an online platform and grant programs designed to help young creatives develop entrepreneurial skills and obtain funding so they can keep working on their projects.
Stir is an initiative of the Canberra Innovation Network that began in 2015. Anyone directly involved in a project in the arts, crafts, design, humanities or science space can use the platform at any time to upload a project and seek feedback or support. They can also access a range of tools to help them create a plan, improve their confidence, and much more.
The Stir crew run a number of grant seasons throughout the year. Their next season, Summer of Stir, launched on December 6, 2017.
Camilo Potocnjak-Oxman, Stir Program Designer and Associate Lecturer on Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the ANU, says “Canberra has the fastest growing innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in the country, and although many programs exist to support entrepreneurs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and other related disciplines, there are very few that offer the same support for creative fields.
“Creatives, by nature and without generalising, often find it hard to consider their work from a commercial perspective without compromising its integrity. They may also have difficulty approaching individuals or companies who would pay for their services and can lack the confidence needed to pitch their ideas.
“This is where Stir comes in. Stir offers a special set of tools to aid them in taking those initial steps, and developing a business mindset so they can support themselves doing the work they love. Through valuable sponsors such as Canberra Community Bank Group, we’re also able to run seasonal programs that provide grants for a number of projects.”
Creatives keen to get involved in Summer of Stir have from December 6 to mid-February to upload their project to the Stir platform. Grant recipients are chosen via public voting, commencing in early January, so it’s up to the project creator to encourage as many people as they can to vote for their project.
The Canberra public can also jump on the Stir website and show their support for a project through votes and comments.
“This summer we’ll be providing three $500 grants, sponsored by Canberra Community Bank Group,” says Camilo. “We’re so grateful to have their support because without them and other sponsors, the grant program would not exist. We’re also collaborating to develop new knowledge content and tools that teach financial management. There are now 14 emerging creatives that Canberra Community Bank Group have supported to pursue a creative career and that’s really meaningful. They’ve empowered the next generation of creative entrepreneurs.”
Of Stir’s vision, Camilo says “Many global startups which are now considered highly successful and influential had people from creative disciplines as part of their founding team. That empowerment of creativity needs to be embraced in Canberra.
“Every time someone has to take a shift washing dishes instead of making a piece of music, or is too hungry to make beautiful art, Australia is losing the opportunity to build cultural capital. And that’s where we want to make a difference.”
To submit your project, or to offer financial or in-kind support, visit Stir.
If you’re part of a creative community in Canberra and wish to get involved in the Summer of Stir, please email the crew.
To learn more about Canberra Community Bank Group and their grant support for local initiatives, pop into any one of the Bendigo Community Bank® branches in Curtin, Wanniassa, Calwell or Jerrabomberra.