Declan – pursuing his interest in music industry policy

Declan Martin is currently finishing his Monash Master of Cultural Economy (now the Master Creative and Cultural Industries). He took time out from writing up his second year Research Project on Melbourne’s local music networks to talk about his experiences in the Master’s course.

Why did you decide to do the Monash Master of Cultural Economy?

I’ve always been interested in the music business – it’s something I’d read a lot about whilst I was doing Economics (Declan has a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Economics and Management). I wanted to get more of an understanding of it, in the policy and government side of things, and this course seemed to fit what I wanted.

The course gives you a general understanding of all the different cultural industries: in the ‘Cultural and Creative Studies’ unit you do a case study on each one. So I’ve now looked at a number of different areas within the music industry that I wouldn’t have understood if I hadn’t done this course.

How did you find City Lab and the whole experience in Shanghai

(Shanghai City Lab is a study tour and unit)

Shanghai was really good! We’d been learning in ‘Creative Cities’ about creative clusters and all these really abstract concepts, so it was good to go out in the field and see how they work … or don’t work in some cases. They organised some great speakers and industry professionals that gave us really good insights.

Shanghai has really gotten behind the cultural and creative industries agenda, and it will be interesting to see if Australia starts to adopt those policies. That would definitely be an area I’d like to work in if that does develop a bit more here, but at the moment it’s in its very early stages.

And what about your visit to MONA – the Museum of Old and New Art – in Hobart?

(The MONA visit was part of the Creative Cities unit, field trip destinations in this unit vary from year to year)

Again, it was good to see what we’d been learning in class, these high level concepts, and what impact they have in somewhere like Hobart where the whole area has been revitalised. Justin O’Connor had organised lot of good talks: from the state government, local council, MONA, and University of Tasmania academics who were working on the project as well.

So you are now in the Research Project stage of your course?

(Declan’s supervisor is Associate Professor Shane Homan)

Yes pretty much this whole year I’ve been working on my thesis – due in October. It’s based on Melbourne’s local music networks and it focuses on how mixed-used development and gentrification have impacted on cultural and music organisations.

A lot of my friends work in small cultural organisations, for magazines and event companies, and they barely make anything out of it, most of them do it for free. But they all work together and sustain what is called a ‘Music City’ and this produces benefits for the city, and has become a large part of government policy, so this process is quite interesting.

I’ve done two case studies on Triple R radio station and The Tote Hotel which have both had different issues with government intervention, focusing on how those two cases were resolved, and drawing inferences about good ways to deal with problems in urban planning and cultural organisations.

Are you considering a research pathway for your career at the moment?

Yes I’m enjoying my (current) work as a research assistant (for Shane Homan) and I’m considering doing a PhD. I just want to take 6 months to decide what I want to do rather than rush into more study, because it’s a big commitment!

One of the best things about the course is that the teaching network is really supportive. We have such small classes that you get ‘one to one’ time with your professors all the time.

Shane Homan was actually away for the year I was doing classes, so I hadn’t met him, but Justin O’Connor thought he’d be a good supervisor for my research project so he made the introduction, and that has worked out really well for me!

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