Wollongong is the first Australian "hot spot" to be targeted for a national study into creative industries, with findings so far a "delight".
Part of the research team was in town this week picking the brains of people who work across a number of creative industries: visual artists, architects, record labels, festival promoters, media, digital startups, film, design and marketing.
Wollongong is one of 20 cities identified as a hot spot because statistics and data show it has "substantially higher than average numbers of creative occupations and/or ... activity".
Results of the study, conducted by the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and the University of Newcastle (UON) along with various partners such as Create NSW, will eventually make their way to parliament for policy change and to get the sector "on the map".
"To actually acknowledge and observe the volunteering, the cultural production stuff that's going on, the theatre and the arts sectors, as well as the much more mature ends of that which is the galleries or the architects," said Associate Professor Susan Kerrigan of the University of Newcastle.
"So its acknowledging that all of that is part of the creative industries."
Professor Kerrigan said often creative industries were overlooked and traditionally did not attract a lot of funding, but hoped this might change when the final research paper is released next year.
Wollongong participants were asked a series of questions (as will others in different cities) about what worked and what didn't in the region, the NBN and digitisation of creative industries, the future of their work and skills, creative ecosystems, tourism and comparisons to other regions.
Professor Kerrigan said she was delighted by the love expressed for the city and the arts scene, which they believed was growing and thriving.
"People love to be in the gong, and people want to stay here," she said.
"Out-of-towners come because of the beaches and the lifestyle and build their businesses here
The team will travel to other hot spots in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, WA and SA before the findings are collated and a final report prepared.