Ballarat sits on Wathaurong land and is located at the crossroads of four main Victorian highways. A number of State agencies are located here to support and build entrepreneurial activity in the region. The Ballarat Technology Park, located some way out of the heart of the city at the Mount Helen campus of Federation University, is an attempt to expand and diversify the technology and innovation sector in the region. This university also has a high profile presence in the city occupying part of a historically endowed precinct in the city centre. Because of the wise preservation and maintenance of its heritage listed buildings by the local council, Ballarat has been used as the location for a significant set of feature films, documentaries and television series bringing work to local crews and suppliers. With numerous festivals playing to the cities strengths many creative embeddeds and performing artists take advantage of employment in facilities such as the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka. The city has its share of start-ups, as well as advertising, design and architectural firms. The city is noted for its museums, its many theatres and art galleries. All major national networks service the TV and radio sector here while community radio is strong and growing.
Bendigo, where the traditional owners are the Dja Dja Wurrung people, has capitalised on its European historical roots. Its striking architecture owes much to its Gold Rush past which has also given it a diverse cultural heritage. The creative industries, while not well recognised as such, contribute well to the local economy. The many festivals, museums and library exhibitions attract visitors from the metropolitan centre of Victoria especially. The Bendigo Creative Industries Hub was a local council initiative while the Ulumbarra Theatre is located within the City’s 1860’s Sandhurst Gaol. Many festivals keep the city culturally active and are supported by organisations such as Bendigo Bank. The Bendigo Writers Festival, the Bendigo Queer Film Festival, The Bendigo Invention & Innovation Festival, Groovin the Moo and the Bendigo Blues and Roots Music Festival are well established within the community. A regional accelerator and Tech School at La Trobe University are touted as models for other regional Victorian cities. The city has a range of high quality design agencies, while the software and digital content sector is growing with embeddeds working in agriculture and information management systems. Employment in Film, TV and Radio and Visual Arts has remained steady in Bendigo for a decade while the Music and Performing Arts sector grew quite well over the same period.
Geelong and the Surf Coast are treated here as one entity although there are marked differences between the two communities. Sitting on the home of the Wathaurong Aboriginal group, this G21 region is geographically diverse. Geelong serviced a wool industry on its western plains, while manufacturing and its seaport past has left it as a post-industrial city. The Surf Coast has benefitted from the sea change phenomenon. Both communities have fast growing populations and have benefitted from their proximity to Melbourne. They are deeply integrated with this major urban centre. The early establishment of digital infrastructure proved an advantage to certain sectors. All creative industries are represented well in Geelong while many creatives in Torquay are embedded in the high profile and economically dominant surfing industry. The Geelong community is serviced well by its own creative industries with well-established advertising firms, architects, bookshops, gaming arcades, movie houses, music venues, newspaper headquarters, brand new and iconic performing and visual arts centres, libraries and museums, television and radio all accessible in its refurbished downtown area. Co-working spaces, collective practices and entrepreneurial activity are evident throughout the region.
Albury-Wodonga, situated in Wiradjuri country, sits astride the Murray River and has benefitted in many ways from its almost equidistance from Sydney and Melbourne. It has found strength in the earlier push for decentralisation begun in early 1970s. A number of State and Federal agencies have ensured middle class professionals now call this region home. Light industry is a feature of Wodonga while Albury maintains the traditions and culture of its former life as part of the agricultural squattocracy. Both Local Councils are keen to work cooperatively to ensure the region is an attractive place to live signing an historical partnership agreement. The region’s road, rail, increasing air links and now digital infrastructure, keep it closely connected to events elsewhere. At the same time its distance from the metropolitan centres has meant it has had to ensure that its creative and cultural life has been taken into its own hands. The establishment of the sophisticated Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA) as well as the presence of the LibraryMuseum, Hothouse Theatre, Fruit Fly Circus, The Cube, Arts Space and the development of Gateway Island on the Murray River as a cultural hub, as well as the high profile activities of its energetic, entrepreneurial and internationally savvy locals running many small businesses, events and festivals, ensures Albury Wodonga has a creative heart to add to its rural and regional activities.