When successful, entrepreneurs add significant value to the community through their individual innovation, creativity, and initiative (Spulber 2014, 1). This value not only impacts the community on an economic scale, but also on a social scale; the economy and society is often enriched (Carvalho and Jonker 2015, 51). Encompassing entrepreneurship, Ignatius Jones created a monumental project known as Vivid Sydney; a festival which encapsulates the creative industries through light, music, and ideas (Landau 2016). In order to determine the entrepreneurial success of Vivid Sydney, this case study will analyse the five creative enterprise success factors and their impact on the project. These factors include: opportunity recognition, value-add, stakeholder management, resourcing, and innovation.
Vivid Sydney is an annual, twenty-three-day winter festival which showcases light, music, and ideas. The festival is where art, technology, and commerce collide, creating a free exhibition which features outdoor lighting sculptures and installations, with a contemporary music program all throughout Sydney city (Vivid Sydney 2017). The project was an initiative of Destination NSW aiming to increase foreign tourism in Sydney as well as increase the overall number of people travelling to Sydney during winter (Meares 2014). Though, Destination NSW CEO, Sandra Chipchase, stated, “Beyond being a fantastic event for our city's visitor economy, Vivid Sydney has always been about the intersection of art and technology and putting art into the hands of the public” (Eggleton 2015). Creative director for Vivid Sydney, Ignatius Jones, says the festival is a celebration of the creative industries providing entertaining content for industry professionals and local visitors (Jones 2011). In order to truly measure the entrepreneurial success of Vivid Sydney, the five creative enterprise success factors must be analysed.
An opportunity represents the possibility to identify a markets needs and to thus deliver significant value through a creative mixture of resources (Yitshaki and Kropp 2015, 549). Opportunity recognition as defined by Lumpkin and Lichtenstein is, “the ability to identify a good idea and transform it into business concepts that add value and generate revenue” (Wasdani and Mathew 2014, 1). Though, an opportunity does not need to be a completely new idea; it could be a pre-existing idea that has been revolutionised (Wasdani and Mathew 2014, 1). This is exactly the case for Vivid Sydney. Destination NSW recognised the need to increase Sydney’s tourism along with its reputation and created a project that added immense value and revenue to Sydney. However, Vivid Sydney was not always so. The original ‘Vivid Sydney’ was curated by Mary-Anne Kyriakou in 2009, where it was formally known as the Smart Light Sydney Festival (Boland 2016). However, due to funding cuts Kyriakou was not in the position to continue the festival. It is evident that Destination NSW along with creative director Ignatius Jones, recognised a huge opportunity to revolutionise Kyriakou’s festival. They not only saw an opportunity to boost tourism within Sydney, but to also increase the overall economic value and reputation of Sydney. With all the expected visitors during the 23-day festival, local business will be positively affected by the increased tourism. Furthermore, they also saw an opportunity to showcase the creative industries in a completely new and accessible way, creating demand for the wider community to celebrate the creativity and innovation behind each artform. In recognising this opportunity to revolutionise Kyriakou’s festival, Destination NSW has created a renowned festival that will transform winter in Sydney.
Furthermore, for a project to demonstrate entrepreneurial success, it must add value to its stakeholders and the community. This added value is often achieved when a project benefits both society and the enterprise (Savitz and Weber 2006, chap. 2). Destination NSW bottom line for Vivid Sydney was to add value to the state by increasing tourism during winter. This was effectively achieved according to Patricia Forsythe, Executive Director for Sydney Business Chamber, who said, “The exceptional growth in visitation numbers to Vivid 2016 including from overseas has meant that the reputation of Sydney as being quiet for tourism in winter is a thing of the past” (Destination NSW 2016). The increase in tourism subsequently significantly increased the money-flow during the festival period, which in 2016 brought $100 million to the NSW economy (Vivid Sydney 2016). This adds substantial value to the wider community who can take advantage of the increased tourism during the festival period. NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events, Stuart Ayres, pointed out this value stating, “During the festival, hotels and restaurants enjoy strong numbers and retailers are bustling” (Ayres quoted in Eggleton 2015). Not only does Vivid Sydney add significant economic value to its stakeholders, but it also adds huge social and cultural value. The festival focusses on bringing both professionals and locals together to celebrate the creative industries, and in doing so adds huge significance to Sydney’s cultural value, where it will be known for celebrating the creative industries. It can be seen that the value-add employed by Vivid Sydney demonstrates entrepreneurial success.
Moreover, effective stakeholder management is integral for Vivid Sydney to be successful. Vivid Sydney is free for the public to enter and as a result is largely run off partnerships with major brands. Destination NSW claimed that much of the growth of the project has been achieved through the development of partnerships (Eggleton 2017). Thus, it is vital that Vivid Sydney meets the needs of these partners effectively. To achieve this, Vivid Sydney provides its partners with valuable promotion at one of Sydney’s largest events. As a result, Vivid Sydney and its external stakeholders collaborate to be mutually beneficial. One of the major focal points of Vivid Sydney is its ability to allow the audience to interact with art; emphasising the convergence of art and technology. This particularly acknowledges societies movement towards a digital world, meeting the needs of the digital society. Ignatius Jones believes the more accessible and interactive the art is, the more people will want to embrace it (Landau 2016). It becomes clear that Vivid Sydney understands the importance of stakeholder management, effectively gaining entrepreneurial success.
Resourcing is also vital for the success of Vivid Sydney. The accessibility to resources will ultimately shape the direction and performance of any project (Jones, Macpherson, and Jayawarna 2013, 88). Vivid Sydney requires a vast amount of tangible resourcing, most of which is in infrastructure and general materials to create the artwork. Infrastructure plays a major role in the success of the project. Using internationally recognisable infrastructure, such as the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, as the basis of the light artwork helps to build a positive reputation of Sydney. Furthermore, intangible resources also play a major role in the success of Vivid Sydney. As previously stated, Vivid Sydney relies upon its major partners to run, and it is the resourcing of these partners that has ultimately lead to Vivid Sydney’s success. Partnering with specific brands allows Vivid Sydney to gain access to resources that may not be available via market transactions (Jones, Macpherson, and Jayawarna 2013, 91). This effective use of resourcing to build a successful project further demonstrates the entrepreneurial success of Vivid Sydney.
Finally, innovation is often the driving force behind any projects success according to Michel Marchesnay who stated, “the less the entrepreneur is an innovator and a risk-taker, the less he can hope to make their investment profitable” (2017, 2). The success of Vivid Sydney has much to do with the innovation behind every small detail of the project. The project focusses on converging art and technology in a completely innovative way to shine a unique light on public art. This use of technology has a big impact on innovation according to Marchesnay who stated that, “The “digital revolution” has contributed […] to new forms of collaboration which abound with opportunities for innovation” (2017, 13). This collaboration between art and technology has been key to the innovative success of Vivid Sydney. This is emphasised by Ignatius Jones who stated, “When the liberating force of art meets the disciplining force of technology, they create something completely different, something magical” (quoted in Landau 2016). This unique blend of art and technology is not only an innovative way to showcase art to professionals and the wider community, but also a unique way of advertising. The extraordinary use of art to showcase Sydney’s iconic infrastructure is a very innovative way to invite foreign travellers into the city, which represents Vivid Sydney’s entrepreneurial success.
To sum up the foregoing, Vivid Sydney was an initiative of Destination NSW to boost tourism within Sydney. The project centralises on three concepts; light, music, and ideas. These three concepts are encapsulated through the convergence of art and technology, which when combined created the essence of Vivid Sydney. The unique project showcases the creative industries like never seen before and has had great success for Sydney’s reputation. Vivid Sydney’s entrepreneurial success was evaluated through the analysis of the five creative enterprise success factors and their impact on the project. It became evident that this project effectively incorporates each of these factors to its advantage in order to gain entrepreneurial success. Though, the project could be improved to gain further entrepreneurial success. Vivid Sydney is Sydney’s largest winter light festival and it could be a large opportunity to promote energy efficiency. This would add vast environmental value to Sydney where it would not only be known for celebrating the creative industries, but also for the promotion of energy efficiency. This could be effectively achieved by ensuring all of the light art features are energy efficient and perhaps incorporating solar panels into some of the displays. Furthermore, to make Vivid Sydney even more memorable and further heighten Sydney’s reputation, small light sculptures that mimic the large-scale light displays could be sold to the public, enabling them to take Vivid Sydney home.
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