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Ten* After Ten: Gibson Group’s Victoria Spackman on the weightless economy, IP export and the Kiwi screen industry

Idealog: Have you been surprised by what has (or has not) changed in the last 10 years? Ten years ago, we were concerned about an economy based on agriculture and tourism. Has enough changed?

Spackman: I’m not sure when all the talk about building a “weightless economy” started; it’s been going on as long as I can remember. I think having a good portion of the export economy not based on putting things in containers is a laudable goal.  We’re not there yet by any stretch. The Gibson Group sits in that area with both our exhibition design division and our screen work. In the export sector generally, there’s not always a great understanding of the special challenges of exporting services, particularly intellectual property.  There are pockets of exception; some people do get it.  The barriers are unseen and often cultural, rather than specific items which governments can help tackle such as tariffs or import licences.

Where are we headed over the next 10 years?

I hope we’re heading to a more balanced economy which is not overly exposed to one or a handful of large export markets.  More services and intellectual property export would be good too. This hopefully leads to a higher wage economy and a rise in living standards for all.  That’s my plan anyway. 

What keeps you awake at night when you think about New Zealand’s place in the creative economy?

I’m seeking a more diverse screen industry where we create high value NZ intellectual property.  We need a mix within the industry. Some have been good at creating other peoples’ films and TV shows here, which builds value for others, but not ultimately for NZ in an intellectual property sense.  I’m thinking about how we make NZ ideas in NZ for the world in that industry and on an ongoing basis.  It’s how our exhibition design business works and I’m trying to replicate some of it into screen.  It’s tough. 

*Dodgy counting alert: Initially, we actually we asked 10 people to answer these questions as part of a magazine cover feature to celebrate our tenth birthday. But we liked those 10 answers so much, we kept asking more people. Stay tuned for more over the summer months.

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