When Rachael Wegener was deciding on a degree, she knew she wanted two things – to be creative, and a business person.
When she realised she couldn’t find an option that allowed her to be both, she took matters into her own hands.
“First and foremost, I am creative. I’m an actress and director but I also have a keen business side, and I wanted to be a producer too,” she says.
“The creative industry is a waiting game. I wanted to be proactive and create opportunities. I wanted to understand the business, so I could understand where I fit and could create my own content and tell stories.”
An internationally accomplished actor, producer and director and recently named a Screen Producers Australia ‘2018 One to Watch’, Ms Wegener says understanding the business side of the arts industry has been critical to her career.
“I’ve seen many creative people stress over things outside their control and unsure where they fit into the wheel of the industry, or how they can help themselves,” she says.
After her acceptance into Flinders University, she set about creating her own ‘creative business’ degree, by combining a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Hons) with a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Commerce, and Bachelor of Laws and Legal Practice. This approach saw her study diverse topics from drama, screen and storytelling to law, economics and finance and graduate with several degrees.
She needed to overload on topics at times, but credits this foundation as instrumental to her success.
In 2019, Flinders University will introduce the revolutionary Bachelor of Creative Arts (Enterprise) degree, providing students with the opportunity to learn the business behind creativity in a single degree path, to set them up for success in a commercial world.
It will build skills in production, events, marketing, entrepreneurship and start-ups, and will ask students to engage in creative pursuits beyond the traditional realms of their specific arts area.
Dr Tully Barnett, Lecturer in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Flinders University, says: “We became aware that there were a lot of students who were putting together their own degrees – combining their creative arts studies with topics from the business school and other areas so they could come out with the skills they needed to negotiate contracts, do their own marketing, be sole traders, and understand how accounting works.”
Students who enrol in one of the practice-specific creative degrees – such as drama or visual arts – will also have the opportunity to complement their studies with subjects in entrepreneurship and enterprise through the Bachelor of Letters.
“It’s the best of both worlds,” says Dr Barnett.
Ms Wegener agrees that Flinders’ new Bachelor of Creative Arts (Enterprise) degree puts students in the driving seat.
“Without having to undertake other topics that are not necessarily related to creative industries, this degree will prepare students for a career in the areas that they may end up battling day to day,” she says.
Rachael Wegener’s four tips for career success in creative arts
- If you want to contribute to your own destiny, get on the business end and learn about it, just because it’s a creative industry doesn’t mean it doesn’t run like any other business.
- Read articles and media in your field; build your specific knowledge.
- Learn resilience and self-love. There are a lot of egos in this industry, it helps to keep fit and healthy!
- Be passionate – your passion will carry you forward. Write down before you begin, why do you want to work in the creative arts? You may need to read it someday to remind yourself why you do what you do.
Since graduating from Flinders University in 2008, Ms Wegener has worked in both business and the creative arts and as an actor and producer in many productions, including the Canadian Leo Award-nominated series For your Security, and the award-winning Canadian film Come Home Soon.
She has acted in and produced highly acclaimed plays at the Adelaide Festival Centre, of which she was nominated for a 2017 Walk of Fame plaque and named a 2017 Screen Siren Producer by the South Australian Film Corporation. She
Continuing to build her creative empire, Ms Wegener has some exciting projects in the pipeline, including with renowned producer David Lightfoot (Wolf Creek, Bad Boy Bubby), and Directors Michael Rymer (NBC’s Hannibal, Battlestar Galactica), Peter Andrikidis (Underbelly, Janet King) and Rod Hardy (X-Files, The December Boys).