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Melbourne artist to Marketta Founder, meet Emma Milikins
Maggie Gray | April 23, 2021
What was once a sleepy coastal town is now home to a new generation of culture creators, innovators and creatives.
At the heart of this cultural shift is creative precinct and live music venue – Miami Marketta.
Marketta’s Founder and Creative Director, Emma Milikins, is an accomplished designer, mentor to emerging artists and the brains behind the long-established creative hub.
“When we first opened to the public, it was basically just 14 sheds that weren’t connected. There was no roof, it was just a warehouse in the back of Miami,” reflects Emma.
“But there was something about that opening night which showed that the Gold Coast was ready for this cultural interaction.”
“We were at the front of this cultural wave that was just about to hit the Gold Coast.” – Emma Milikins, Founder, Miami Marketta
Ten years ago, Emma stepped away from a successful career in fashion, and after a serendipitous meeting, realised there was an opportunity to bring something unique to the Gold Coast.
“I came from Melbourne – and the coast hadn’t really seen a lot of this underground arts scene – fashion, music, design. It just wasn’t really a thing. So, when we created this event, everybody was blown away.”
“My husband and I would work 16 hour days sometimes to get events ready or to get the space looking up to scratch.
“It grew from once a month on a Friday, to twice a month, to now operating three times a week.
“It kind of sounds like that all happened really fast, but we’re coming up to our ten year anniversary next year.”
Today, Marketta is one of the Gold Coast’s premier live music venues for national and international touring acts. The venue also hosts a range of regular events including street food festivals, vintage suitcase rummages, private events, paint and sip activities and the fabulous – Drag Queen Bingo.
“I think we definitely started a bit of a a cultural revolution, I couldn’t count the amount of people that have been stall holders who have gone off to make their own restaurants or start their own label – the list is huge, so I think that in itself is rewarding enough for me,” says Emma.
“I’ve always had this motto in life where success to me is living to create and creating to live. So if anyone ever says do you think you’ve made it in your field, I can say now that I’m living by my creation. And one of the things with Marketta was to create that platform for other artists.
“I think the thing about Marketta that makes it special is that it’s organic. It kind of created itself in a way. I never had an idea of what it would actually look like when all the spaces were full. But we’re not done yet, it’s still a growing entity.”
Despite Marketta’s undeniable success, Emma says she still has to remind herself to step back and enjoy the little things.
“Sometimes you get really bogged down in the work, and you just forget to go and enjoy what you’ve created.
“I had this moment recently where I had so many emails and I couldn’t catch up and was chasing my tail, so I decided to step out of the office.
“There was a band on stage – a local musician who is a fantastic beat boxer – and he’d got the crowd all riled up.
“There was this girl who was an amazing dancer – she wasn’t paid or anything – she had just started dancing in the crowd. And there was this little girl with special needs just staring at her in awe.
“A couple of songs in, the dancer realised this little girl was watching her and she went over and grabbed the little girl’s hand and started showing her how to dance.
“They held hands and it was this moment where everyone in the crowd just went ‘oh my god that’s so special’.
“You forget because you’re bogged down doing admin and not taking in how special those tiny little interactions are. There would have been hundreds of thousands of those moments over the ten years we’ve operated.”
“It’s those really special moments – that is why we do this.”