An Oscar-winning illustrator joined a who's who of Australian television production and literature at USC's inaugural Children's Media Symposium in November. The cast of stars from print to screen also had a strong international flavour with two leading producers from New Zealand heavily involved in the three-day program as well as presenters from Germany, the USA and India. Mixing world-leading industry experts with academic papers, the conference explored the complex relations between children and media, attracting more than 140 educators, students and community members.
Highlights of the Symposium included Oscar-winning illustrator Shaun Tan in discussion with celebrated children's author, USC’s Professor Gary Crew. The pair conducted a warm, candid and entertaining conversation discussing storytelling, art, and creative collaborations, followed by a well-attended book signing session.
The ABC’s Director of Television from 2006-12 Kim Dalton OAM opened the conference with a keynote exploring the importance of robust media policies to the sustainability of Australian children’s television while Jenny Buckland, CEO of the Australian Children’s Television Foundation outlined the role Australia’s television networks play in telling stories to Australian children that situate them in their own cultural context.
The Symposium was developed as part of Dr Anna Potter’s ARC DECRA fellowship and with ARCH support, USC’s School of Communication and Creative Industries hosted the inaugural Symposium from 24-26 November, 2017. This year’s theme, From Print to Screen, opened up multiple avenues for delegates and industry presenters to share their experiences and insights into creating media for children.
To investigate the contexts and impacts of these creative and commercial practices, a range of interdisciplinary academic researchers presented scholarly work analysing key issues and trends in children’s media production and reception. The Symposium culminated in a public screening of the latest ABC ME live-action drama Mustangs FC (Matchbox Pictures), about a group of girls who abandon the side-lines to start their football club’s first all-girl team. Cast members and producers were involved in a lively Q&A forum post screening, which was hosted by Sunshine Coast Lightning player Caitlin Bassett. Children who came for the screening were delighted to join in kicking the soccer ball around with stars Emmanuelle Mattana (Marnie) and Molly Broadstock (Bella) on the lawns of USC beforehand, and to have their photographs taken with the stars at the end of the event.
The CMS was successful in bringing together researchers, creative practitioners, educators and industry perspectives to showcase the global children’s media landscape, and how media can help kids make sense of a changing world. Feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive:
'I really appreciated the academic/industry interface and would like to see this grow in future. Congratulations to Anna Potter, Inez and team on the quality of planning and conference presentation. Facilities at USC were very comfortable, most enjoyable. Thank you.'
'I think it was a great success, and I'd recommend doing it all again in two years time. The size of the event and number of participants was perfectly sized: small and intimate enough to get to know mostly everyone and large enough for diversity. Well done!!'
'More please!! And my compliments to the team. It is clear that USC is dynamic and engaged and that students are very lucky to have such dedicated teachers.'
'Thank you again for a tremendous conference, most enjoyable.'
‘What an incredible program. I wish all the writing organisations near and far had the opportunity to hear your Symposium research papers.’
‘The conference was great! ... The academic-industry connection worked really well."
CMS convenor Dr Anna Potter said she was delighted by the strong support for the event by participants and the opportunities for ongoing collaboration that the CMS provided.