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Shop. Play. Geek: Q&A with Canberra Geek Markets organiser Daniel Rathbone

Canberra Geek Markets is a new event that mainly sells ‘geeky stuff’ created by Canberra’s local artists and creators. Due to Canberra’s geographical location, residents are limited in access to popular culture merchandise. The event aims to bring general popular culture to Canberran’s and provide an opportunity for local creators to promote their artwork. In the meantime, Menslink, the organisation that provides free counselling service for local young men, will appear at the event to support the community. Originally planned for March 21st and 22nd at EPIC (Exhibition Park in Canberra), the event was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daniel Rathbone is the event organiser of Canberra Geek Markets. Two years ago, Daniel had an idea for the event; therefore he started up the Team OZ POP! company with his wife, to launch Canberra Geek Markets. As a big ‘comic book geek’, who previously worked in the game industry, Daniel is passionate about bringing general popular culture to Canberra. Here Daniel and I discuss his inspiration for organising the event, the importance of supporting local artists, and the market of general popular culture merchandise.

Daniel Rathbone

What inspired you to launch the Canberra Geek Markets? Why?

I’ll give you a little background of me and my journey to put it on, I think that can answer it back. I’m an event manager, that’s my full-time job, that’s essentially what I do every day. I’ve also been putting on conventions and running conventions for many years, so I’ve done a lot of large shows and sports shows. I then help with some local shows as well, and I saw a need to and an opportunity within the market to put on Canberra Geek Markets and to bring local and interstate traders and artists to Canberra because I thought that area wasn’t being targeted at the moment within the ACT (Australian Capital Territory). There has been a moment where I go, ‘yeah I really wanna put that market on’, that would be in 2018. When I went to the Bus Depot Market in Kingston and saw how they were running stuff, and I went, I could put something on like this. This is something that from my initial idea could have like they could take off essentially.

What avenues did you have to go down in order to launch the event?

I have to lease the venue and the venue that we have chosen is the exhibition park. I know those guys and I worked with them on previous events, so I have to apply to that venue and to lease with some suppliers. There are lots of leases, the vendors need tables and chairs, so people can set up their stalls. You got the whole other administration sides including leasing with your insurance company and first aid people. There are lots of avenues to put an event on like this. My wife is the organiser of social media promotion, and she got great skills of putting that together, so it’s all about talking and saying well, we need to put this post up at this point. We wanna promote everything.

Since the event is being postponed at the moment, what will be the highlight of Canberra Geek Markets? What can people expect from the event?

I think the main focus is our local and interstate often traders and creators that we have, that’s what people should be looking forward to. Having an opportunity to shop with these local people to take a board game, clothing, video games, collectable colour box and original arts. That’s what people should be looking forward to employing when we put our event later on this year.

Why do you think it is important for people in Canberra to access general popular culture easily?

I think it’s very vital for people. Canberra sometimes can be a very isolated state, when you look at popular culture Canberra does get overlooked by large organisations, and we sort into that corner of “oh that’s just Canberra.” That’s why we saw that need to bring popular culture to Canberra, and we got some great institutions that we work with that’s been going through years and years of bringing popular culture to Canberra already.

Canberra Geek Markets provide an excellent opportunity for local artists to increase their visibility. Do you think local artists and creators should be more valued by people and the public? In what way do you think they could be more supportive?

A hundred per cent. The arts where that be an artist or creator that made stuff, that needs to be supportive. There could be several things that they could do. The ACT government is amazing at supporting artists, but just opening up the market will expose the artists and the creators to the wider Australian market. That’s what I think would go a long way to help push for them. For example, somebody in Queensland might love an art piece and then buy it through a website, and that’s the great thing about the market. At the moment, we are making a big push for our artists and operators to get their stuff on our website and our social media, to help them to push it to that wider audience.

Do you think general popular culture and arts have received enough attention in Canberra? Why?

I’ll say yes. It depends on who you ask essentially. Some of the artists might go, “no, we haven’t.” But during our research, I do know there are a lot of grants for artists and creators that are out there. I do believe that the ACT government does a great job on that.

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Our Charity partner @menslinkcanberra missed the opportunity for you to chat to their mentors and take donations at Canberra Geek Markets. We know many of our geeks still want to show their love and support to Menslink. Now more than ever, we need amazing organisations like Menslink to support young men in the Canberra region through their free counselling, volunteer mentoring and education programs. Click to learn more: #itsnotweaktospeak #menslink #silenceisdeadly #CanberraGeekMarkets #Menslinkcanberra

A post shared by Canberra Geek Markets (@canberrageekmarkets) on

How do you cooperate with Menslink? How does the charity partnership work?

I’ve been a huge fan of Menslink since I came to Canberra. I think the work that they do within young men in the community and the mental health program is phenomenal. Martin from Menslink does an amazing job. We wanted to make sure we are giving a great event to the community, but we also wanted to make sure that we are doing another good by cooperating with Menslink and maybe other charity partners in the future. To the people that may not know who they are or what they do or, they may have seen that logo, but they haven’t enquired about what they do, we just help from messaging of what they do to the wider audience.

We planned to have mentors and mentees at the event, it’s all about them giving out information and telling the general public what they do and how they help the local Canberra community and Canberra men. Also, if people would like to donate, like a small gold coin donation, that can be an advantage. It was a way for them to engage with our community and vice versa. We wanted to make sure that not only are we helping out artists and traders and creators, but also the larger Canberra community.

What do you enjoy most when preparing for the event?

Everything. Even though it can be a bit stressful, I love putting on these kinds of events and so does my wife. I love engaging with our community, our traders, our artists and our creators because they are amazing. It’s great to touch base with those guys, and I love everything about it. I think that’s key, you gotta love what you are doing to do it well.

What would you say is the hardest thing when preparing for the event?

Oh everything, everything as well! It’s a double soul for you love everything, but sometimes you hate everything as well, it’s a pain. But no, I think one of the hardest things at the moment is getting the general public to know about our event, and get them to come to the event.

Are you planning to make it a regular event that takes place every season or every year in Canberra?

We are looking to put it on at least three or four times each year, depending on the developability of the venue. We want to push popular culture to a wider audience, get the artists and traders in, and promoting those guys throughout the year. We don’t want it just be a yearly event, we want to make sure we are putting on something consistently throughout the year.

If you are seeking support or would like to contact Menslink, you can call 02 6287 2226







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