Belle Laide Events’ Mark Taylor provides a wrap of creative event trends and observations over the past 12 months.

By Mark Taylor

So yet again we blink, the months pass and we now find ourselves submerged in the festive season far quicker than we ever thought possible. On the creative front, we have seen some incredible efforts, installs and design builds on a national scale, Vivid Festival, Art & About, Good Food Month, The Biennale of Sydney being personal favourites, with some fantastic installations to inspire.

Like many event folk this year we have seen an influx of creative briefs being requested, offered and delivered for and by many. There definitely seems to have been a resurgence of events that require the envelope to be pushed on design and creative delivery. General chit-chat around the industry seems to have shown that the last six months have lifted with creative demand. No surprise that actual event lead times remain short, yet creative requirements continue to be pushed further – not an ideal mixer but a challenging one nevertheless. Time will always be our challenge on a creative front, but it is up to us to make space for personal creative time.

We’ve been talking about creativity in this column throughout the year and I’m still continually fascinated by individuals who see the world through a different lens. Most of us have ideas of what we’d like to change within our creative abilities, but not necessarily the vision or space to make it happen. People who clear the clutter and make time, will always be delivering projects of greater interest and impact.
The success of those I admire inevitably seems to be the result of their ability to see and to imagine how things can be and not distracted by how things are.
Jeremy Garling recently posted a fantastic open letter on his company website (Fourth Wall) titled, “Event management companies are dead”. What a cracking way to get anyone’s attention! Garling states: “The marketplace has evolved and is looking for companies who will work beyond traditional parameters. They want creative solutions that focus on broader business objectives, maximising the experience to achieve much greater outcomes”.

His thought is around bringing collectives of creative individuals together that excel in specific areas of expertise for each project versus assigning a straight out event manager across all platforms of the client’s event requirements.
Garling sums it up pretty well in saying, “Managing an event will always be an important element in any project, however good management does not breathe new life into business; creation and innovation does”.
To me that’s someone who’s actively clearing clutter and being creative on all accounts – on both the progression of the business of events and the creative specifics around project design and management in the future.
Skills in critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and innovation are crucial for achieving success in the events world. Moving forward it will be all about a new type of ROI (Return on Ideas) in events. Creativity is crucial to client projects as we move forward in this industry and we all need to be on top of our game.
As we approach a new year, it’s important to remember it’s never too late to develop your creativity and imagination. Although this said, it is possible that the longer you suppress it the more challenging it can be.

I read about a lesson shared by Gordon McKenzie, a well-known creative force at Hallmark Cards. He would often visit schools to talk about his job and he usually introduced himself as an artist, and then ask the students, “How many of you are artists?” At kindergarten level almost every hand was enthusiastically raised. But as the ages grew across the older classes the hand raising diminished to some points where older children wouldn’t raise their hand as they thought being an artist was “uncool”. This is because we are more often taught to focus on the practical and unfortunately creativity always seems to have to take a back seat.

So if we want to cultivate creativity and imagination, a good place to start is to leave the practical aside and consider giving ourselves some time each week for creative clearance. Allow yourself some space and actually schedule in time to focus on the creative attributes of your work. Like any skill set, you need to work on this to improve so endeavor to clear the practical clutter for a moment to allow your creative to be seen.
With your company or team internationally set aside time to expose them to new innovative ideas. Facilitate discussion during and after this exposure to discover what’s old, what’s new and what can be taken away from these stimuli. As well as benefits to your company you’ll find that this type of dialogue forms stronger friendships, which is said to be another contributor to creativity and innovation.

I’d like to end the year as I started it with my first micenet AUSTRALIA article: No creativity, no innovation… no point. It’s important to dig deeper on a request or a discussion, push boundaries, open up possibilities, entice conversation, add some colour to something that is otherwise a little static. That’s what dipping your toes in the creative pool is about. I sincerely hope 2014 is a creative one for us all. Thanks again to those who emailed with ideas, feedback, and encouragement. m