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Introducing Rhythm and Vines founder Hamish Pinkham’s latest event for creative minds: The Phoenix Summit

The Phoenix Summit is happening this month on Saturday September 14 at the Q Theatre and is a full-day event, with early bird tickets priced at $149. It will feature a mixture of panels, keynotes and Q&As, with some of the topics being covered including social impact, sustainability, wellness, gender issues and more.

Pinkham says while the music industry is a key focus for the relevance of topics being discussed, people working in the advertising, media, film and TV industries will also find a place at the summit.

“That’s why we’re calling it a meeting of creative minds,” Pinkham says. “What I want to do is pass on some of my experience with my journey in the creative industries and pour them back into a forum like this. I’ve been able to make a lot of contacts in the industry that I’m hoping to bring to the Phoenix Summit.

“For me, it’s a chance to give back. There was nothing like this when I was starting off as a young music entrepreneur. Again, it’s driven by a need or a want for a forum where young dreamers and doers can come together to be inspired and get direction in pursuing their goals.”

Speakers on the Phoenix Summit line-up include:

  • Ty Stiklorius is the co-founder and CEO of entertainment and social-impact company Friends at Work, and also the longtime collaborator and manager of John Legend. She’s recently worked with John on the #FREEAMERICA campaign to influence the US National conversation regarding mass incarceration.
  • Rob English has worked as creative director for Lady Gaga, John Legend and Lindsay Stirling. Oprah praised his 2019 commercial for Pampers as her favourite commercial of the 2019 Superbowl.
  • Allison Shaw is the CEO and founder of Manic Monkee, a firm that does strategic business and lead development, brand experiences and storytelling. Shaw was previously the director of brand development for famed hip hop band Public Enemy and has worked on many brands’ first South by South West (SXSW) appearances, such as Amazon, Fitbit and Whole Foods. She also produced the first fully solar-powered music festival to raise money for children with cancer.
  • Mark Roach has over 25 years’ experience in the local music industry. He co-founded Independent Music NZ and founded and chaired the Music Managers’ Forum NZ. He is now the marketing and special projects manager of Recorded Music New Zealand, a non-profit company that protects and advocates for the rights of recording artists and their labels.
  • Julia Parnell is an award-winning producer and documentary director and has spent 20 years working in the local entertainment industry. Some of the music documentaries she’s produced include feature film The Chills: The Triumph and Tragedy of Martin Phillipps and television documentaries Anthems: New Zealand’s Iconic Hits, Exponents, Dragon and New Sound of Country. She’s currently in post-production on a feature film about Six60.
  • Te Aroha Grace is the innovation officer of the tribal development entity of Ng?ti Wh?tua ?r?kei. He teaches and implements the Iwi Algorithm, which is the re-understanding of our ancient and inherent relationship with emotional, natural and and adapting that philosophical understanding to P?keha inherited frameworks, so they’re re-imagined through a cultural lens.
  • Morgan Donoghue is the managing director of inMusic and prior to that, spent five years at Serato, a world-leading DJ software company as its commercial officer and marketing director  where he was creating products and channels to sell direct to customers. He was also previously head of music at Vodafone New Zealand and Vodafone’s global HQ in London. 

Pinkham is best known for having founded Rhythm and Vines in 2003 with his fellow University of Otago friends, Tom Gibson and Andrew Witters. But prior to its conception, he says he felt a lot of pressure leaving university, as he had trained as a lawyer but had an urge to carve a career in something more creative.

“There was a lot of pressure from my peers to ‘join the real world’ and financial pressures as well. I think having access to a network of creative visionaries would’ve helped inspire me,” he says. “That’s when I went offshore to be inspired to overseas events like SXSW and I thought, why can’t we have something here in New Zealand that facilitates that inspiration?”

Hamish Pinkham

The SXSW event is an annual conference held in Austin, Texas, that draws hundreds of thousands of punters to the city. It intertwines film, interactive media and music and Pinkham says it is what helped inspire the Phoenix Summit.

“SXSW started 30-odd years ago as a small gathering of minds, and now it’s one of the world’s leading think tanks for innovation, for music,” he says. “If we can bottle up or bring a small slice of that concept to New Zealand, we’ll be really proud of the Phoenix Summit.”

Now that Rhythm and Vines is ticking along nicely, Pinkham says the Phoenix Summit has been born to help create other great businesses. Its point of differentiation from other events in New Zealand such as TED, Semipermanent and Unfiltered is it has a creative industry lens, rather than a design, tech or entrepreneurship focus.

“I think the ideas have always been there but there’s more of an ecosystem developing – you’ve got the likes of The Icehouse, Unfiltered, Idealog – there’s a framework, but there’s no one forum that brings creative people together,” Pinkham says. “With Phoenix Summit, all we know is we’ve got some leading minds, and once you get them in the same room anything can happen.”

He says the type of people who have grown up attending Rhythm and Vines have headed along to the festival for entertainment but are now at a stage in their lives where they’re looking to attend something with a little more purpose.

“Not that it won’t be entertaining, but the Phoenix Summit is certainly about inspiration and education, whereas Rhythm and Vines is more about entertaining,” Pinkham says.

“People are going to invest in knowledge and networks and inspiration. That shows the maturity of the clientele coming to Phoenix. They’ve done their entertainment over the years, now they’re looking for the inspiration.”

Overall, Pinkham says New Zealanders have some fantastic ideas, resources and skill sets, so if everyone comes together under roof through a forum like the Phoenix Summit, opportunities will follow. 

“You never know who you might meet, or what piece of information might inspire or motivate you. Being there is everything.”


What? The 2019 Phoenix Summit.
How?  Find tickets through the website here.
When? The event is being held Saturday 14 September.
Why? To get inspired and educated on what can be achieved in the creative sectors through the experiences of national and international speakers.

Elly is Idealog's editor and resident dog enthusiast. She enjoys travelling, tea, good books, and writing about exciting ideas and cool entrepreneurs.

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