Together with an international project team, we develop measures and formats for industrial regions in which the creative industries and their players are to be increasingly brought before the curtain as drivers of innovation. Julia Pohn (project manager Creative Region Linz & Upper Austria) talks about initiatives and potential.

For a year now, you have been working in an international team to promote the creative industries as drivers for industrial regions. What opportunities are opening up here?

Julia Pohn: First of all: The lively exchange with project partners from all over Europe provides exciting insights into other regions and their best practice examples. Everywhere, industry is facing many changes - these will not only affect production methods but also our working environment and our society; keywords here include digitization, recycling management, renewable energies and artificial intelligence. Traditional industrial regions can benefit in particular from innovative approaches from the cultural and creative industries - the lateral thinking of their actors is rightly considered to be particularly pioneering. At the same time, it is our goal to further strengthen the creative industries in the regions and to offer a stage for their services.

What is the situation in Linz and Upper Austria?

Julia Pohn: In an international comparison, Linz is de facto a best practice example when it comes to the development and promotion of the creative industries and creativity; this is due on the one hand to the educational institutions such as the JKU, the University of Art and Design Linz or the FH Hagenberg. The Tobacco Factory Linz, which is also home to the CREATIVE REGION, is a good example of a successful metamorphosis: Within a few years, it has developed away from the classic industrial enterprise into an important innovation ecosystem through an exciting mix of start-ups, corporations, support institutions, creative people and artists.  The fact is: creative and innovative achievements also happen outside the conurbations, and we will support the creators with various offers.

What formats have you developed for the creatives in Upper Austria?

Julia Pohn: Altogether there will be four larger formats, each of which will cover different target groups and objectives:

Format 1:  FYI ... For Your Inspiration - The CREATIVE BUSINESS course for the self-employed and founders

The focus of the workshop series is to equip self-employed and potential founders from the creative industries with relevant skills and know-how to enable them to develop their business in a targeted manner. The workshop series starts in June and consists of five coordinated focus modules, which deal with the most relevant topics for young entrepreneurs. Each topic is taught by experts in their field - practical knowledge is therefore guaranteed. Due to the small group size of a maximum of 12 participants, we can also guarantee a high degree of individualisation of the contents, which is particularly helpful for the individual participants. Participation is free after successful application - registration is possible HERE until April 30th. Here is an overview of the main topics:

  • Module 1: Entrepreneurial Mindset & Skills with Patrick Rammerstorfer

        Focus: What skills and attitude do entrepreneurs need to successfully start and run a business?

  • Module 2: Vision & Strategy with Doris Rothauer

        Focus: Where do I want to go with my company and how do I get there?

  • Module 3: Branding & Communication with Bernhard Buchegger

         Focus: How do I brand my business correctly, how do I communicate my business to the outside world?

  • Module 4: Sales with Oliver Kronawittleithner

         Focus: How do I address the right target group, in what way and at the right time?

  • Module 5: Presentation & Rhetoric with Bettina Wegleiter & Wojciech Czaja

         Confident appearance, trip-free presentations, negotiating skills - all important and learnable.

For whom is the FYI course suitable?

For all creative people and young entrepreneurs who want to develop themselves and their business and who (must) have the courage to try something new. For example, photographers, architects, app developers, filmmakers, motion designers, graphic designers, industrial designers, illustrators, copywriters who want to put their business on a solid footing and sharpen their vision with experts and like-minded people. The condition for participation is that you have been or are about to be self-employed in the creative industry for a maximum of five years. We award twelve scholarships worth 10,000 euros each!

Format 2: OPEN STUDIOS - Exchange and stage for creatives and innovators

The OPEN STUDIOS format is always well attended and has now opened over 80 doors to creative people and their studios in Linz and Steyr. This year, as soon as it is possible again, we will present new studios in single format and would also like to show the creative potential of another region in Upper Austria: At the end of September we are planning the second, newly conceived edition of the OPEN STUDIOS STEYR and on October 15th the OPEN STUDIOS format will take place for the first time in Gmunden around the coworking space Cowerk. In addition, there will also be a new edition of OPEN STUDIOS in the tobacco factory in Linz at the beginning of 2021. All formats will of course be held in compliance with all important corona measures.

Format 3: CREATIVE HACKATHON - New solutions for the industry

Finding new solutions, concepts and ways of thinking thanks to motivated hackers and the latest technologies - that is the approach of the CREATIVE HACKATHON. At the beginning of March 2021, real challenges from companies will be "hacked" in the GRAND GARAGE within 48 hours and solutions will be worked out together with experts. Companies can already submit challenges for which they would like to develop new perspectives. Registration is possible HERE. 

Format 4: ARTS MEET TECHNOLOGY - Art & Technology Workshops in Saxony

At the beginning of 2021 we are planning an exhibition of a special kind in Linz: together with our project partner from Saxony we are developing a workshop program in which artists can work with new technologies. The workshops will take place in Saxony, where participants will also be able to exchange ideas with other actors from the fields of art and technology and benefit from their learning. The resulting works will then be presented in Linz together with works from the STARTS initiative.

Which international best practices have particularly impressed you so far?

Julia Pohn: Two examples from our twin cities of Saxony (Germany) and Vicenza (Italy): Like Linz, both cities are very strongly influenced by industry and there are very successful measures there that breathe new life into industrial vacancies and make them accessible to the population by means of creative approaches.

Saxony has been hosting the "Ibug" festival since 2006. Ibug stands for 'Industry Brownfield Revitalization'. The idea of the Urban Art Festival is to stage industrial buildings, so-called "Brown Fields", often destined for demolition, in rural areas in a completely new way by international artists using painting, graffiti, illustrations, installations and multimedia art. The history of the industrial wasteland and its architecture is also reflected. The results will be presented to an international audience in workshops, concerts and lectures over two festival weekends.

My second favourite comes from Vicenza, an industrial city in northern Italy. In the project "Deus Ex Fabrica", old, industrial vacancies were rethought here and reused with creative, cultural, artistic and technological measures.

Keyword COVID-19: Where do you see potential for the creative industries?

Julia Pohn: Sure, the situation is very challenging, and the economy and industry need completely new approaches, especially now, in order to be able to master this crisis. But it is also a chance to see and think things in a completely new way - creativity and innovation are in demand as rarely before. Creative people regularly reinvent themselves; now is the time to implement these patterns of thinking and action in the industries. We therefore want to tackle this difficult time with drive and positive thinking.

CREATIVE REGION: Thanks for the interview, Julia - #keeponcreating!


Julia Pohn was interviewed by Verena Kroupa

Available at - put online on 22 April 2020