Refinery refined – Sunshine Coast creative incubator goes online

The arts and creative industries, like many others, have been drastically affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) with cancellations, closures and job losses, so now more than ever, program’s like The Refinery creative incubator are invaluable.

Initiated by Sunshine Coast Council, SunCentral and Sunshine Coast Creative Alliance, The Refinery is both a testing ground and training platform that establishes an alignment between creativity and business. Providing access to world-class mentors and a network of inspiring industry leaders, The Refinery provides participants with business skills, tools and connections to turn their creative ideas into reality.

Artists are renowned for responding creatively to crises, as has been proven recently, from bushfire fundraising efforts to new digital festivals emerging in response to lock-downs.

It is in the spirit of “the show must go on” that The Refinery creative incubator has been re-imagined as an online program.

Applications for the 2020 program closed in March and the first stage has been completed, with a virtual Bit-camp (in lieu of the planned Boot Camp), uncovering 30 inspiring ideas from First Nations starts ups, creative service providers, new learning platforms and social entrepreneurs.

Sunshine Coast Council Creative Development team leader Megan Rowland said The Refinery had cemented itself as a leading creative business incubator in Australia in its first year (2019), attracting world-class mentors and almost one hundred applications in 2020.

“This year the program will be reimagined as a virtual testing ground and online catalyst space where participants can connect with world-class mentors and collaborate with industry peers to create exciting new businesses,” Ms Rowland said.

Thirteen projects will soon be announced to take part in the creative incubator program. They will be delivered via a series of live webinars, virtual breakout groups and one-on-one mentoring, enabling creative start-ups to gain knowledge and skills in areas of marketing, legal, funding, finance and future-proofing.

Originally scheduled to run in the MET, a purpose-built activation space in Maroochydore’s new city centre, The Refinery incubator will initially run online with a virtual public program to be announced soon.

Upon completion of the creative incubator and the relaxation of social distancing restrictions, The Refinery will return to its home in Maroochydore where the 2020 participants will launch their creative businesses to the public.

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