2020 – Testing Creative Resilience

The year started off great for AGB Creative, a SME that creates and produces large-scale public events and exhibitions.  In January we launched the international tour of our digital exhibition Beauty Rich and Rare.  Commissioned by the National Library of Australia,  Beauty Rich and Rare was the first Australian exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

We had huge plans to use the 6-month run to showcase our digital storytelling talents and grow our international business.  With a roster of current and target clients in London, Dubai, New York, Canberra, Alice Springs, Cairns, Townsville, and our home base of Sydney, we were ready to deliver multiple projects spanning events, placemaking, and strategy.

And then the world changed.

Our major events were canceled, cultural institutions closed, and travel ceased.

The world, and our industry, shut down.

Our business was oriented around creating experiences for large audiences, the very thing that was prohibited by all governments around the world.  As event planners, we normally respond to risks with agility and inventiveness.  Adapting to high intensity, stressful, time-sensitive situations is part of our DNA.  Irrespective of past festivals, Olympic Games, international broadcast, or other high profile events, we had never faced a challenge that questioned the very core of what we do.

First, we focused on our long-term clients, reconfiguring event formats, hopeful that they would postpone rather than cancel.  Our tenacity paid off because once restrictions were eased, some of our critical anchor events were reinstated to demonstrate success in the Government’s COVID strategies.

Most importantly we diversified.  We took advantage of the great pause of 2020 to evaluate our business model.  If we can no longer have audiences, how else can our digital storytelling talents be of value?  Deep diving into other industries, we discovered a unique need in the education sector.

Schools, teachers, and students were all caught unprepared for remote learning, illuminating a huge deficiency in educational content.  Similar to our audiences, students also need captivating content to be keep them engaged.  By applying our creative problem-solving and deft usage of digital animation, we identified a unique way to bring to life curriculum elements.  Unveiling our ground-breaking new approach to multiple levels of education providers has opened up a completely new industry for our company, paving the way for a parallel business.

Now that event restrictions are being relaxed (in Australia), our projects are slowly returning.  To deliver in this new COVID climate, we have adapted our methods, upskilled our team, and developed new best practices.  The clients who were previously fearful of having events are pursuing us to be catalysts in renewing community culture. Meanwhile, AGB’s digital education focus continues in parallel, further reinforcing our resilience for the future.

This month we are presenting a newly configured edition of our annual Lights of Christmas event in Sydney.  The QR codes, capacity control, and social distancing may be new, but our theme is timeless: HOPE.  Throughout 2020 we were hopeful about our survival, but it was AGB’s resilience, tenacity, and adaptability that made our hopes a reality.

Anthony Bastic, CEO