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Collaboration The Key To Regional Arts Pilots

The six pilots set up as part of Creative New Zealand’s Regional Strengths strategy are under way in Auckland, Hawke’s Bay, Manawatu, Northland, Otago and Southland.

Spanning more than 20 districts, the pilots have been set up for the first year of the three-year strategy. Regional Strengths is one of several strategies developed by Creative New Zealand as a result of its additional, one-off funding from the Government through its Cultural Recovery Package in May 2000. Up to $510,000 has been committed to this new strategy in its first year.

Elizabeth Kerr, Chief Executive of Creative New Zealand, says Regional Strengths was developed in response to an identified need for initiatives that span local authority boundaries. The strategy builds on the Creative Communities Scheme and taps into the impetus of those regions wanting to take a more expansive approach to arts development.

“Collaboration lies at the heart of Regional Strengths,” Miss Kerr says. “In many of the pilots, artists and organisations are working together for the first time.”

The six pilots have received Creative New Zealand funding on a one-off basis and Creative New Zealand will be monitoring the success of these pilots to inform the strategy in its second and third years.

“These pilots have created opportunities for organisations and local government to identify and develop strategic arts initiatives that are appropriate to the needs of each region,” Miss Kerr says.
“Although the pilots are funded for only one year, they will have long-term benefits for their regions.”

Another aim of the strategy is to encourage shared investment and support from other sources. The partnerships developed in the pilots involve local authorities, iwi, artists and arts groups, businesses, philanthropic trusts and community organisations.

In the Otago pilot, for example, “government agencies and local government have come together in an unprecedented way to achieve our objectives,” says Tamsin Cooper, Arts Advisor for Dunedin City Council.

Creative New Zealand, the Community Trust of Otago, the Community Employment Group and the Otago region’s five district councils are working with artists to produce, distribute and market a high-quality, 250-page regional arts guidebook, The Otago Arts Guide in January 2002.

Many of these organisations will also be involved in other projects designed to meet the Otago pilot’s objectives: to map, promote and profile artists and arts industries in the Otago area; and to create economic growth and opportunities for visual arts in the region.

Linda Simpson, Community Arts Advisor at the Palmerston North Community Arts Council, says the Manawatu pilot has already received a lot of positive feedback. This pilot has included setting up the Manawatu Art Awards and Exhibition and a small-scale arts festival to accompany the exhibition. From a total of 120 entries, 25 artworks were selected and shown at the Manawatu Art Gallery in Palmerston North. The remaining works are being featured in seven locations throughout the Manawatu during June and July.

“Nothing like this has been done in the Manawatu before and people are loving it,” Ms Simpson says. “The community wants to know who their local artists are and to see what work they are producing. It’s a really positive example of what can be done when the arts community forms new relationships and partnerships within their region.”

Run by the Palmerston North Community Arts Council, the project has received funding from the City Council, Manawatu District Council, Creative New Zealand, the Creative Communities Scheme and a range of sponsors.

The Manawatu pilot has commissioned a feasibility study to find an appropriate model for a regional arts organisation, Arts Manawatu. It also plans to set up a regional funding initiative to support arts events that are not eligible for support under the Creative Communities Scheme guidelines.

For the Southland pilot, a series of Arts Action Workshops have been set up over eight months to provide professional development and networking opportunities in the region, and to strengthen the infrastructure of Southland arts organisations. The first of these workshops, Money Makes the Arts Go Round (6 and 7 July) “will look at the mutual benefits of arts sponsorship and how to retain sponsors, as well as inspirational and dynamic arts marketing,” says Angela Newell, Co-ordinator of Creative Southland. Speakers include Alan Bradley, Chief Executive of Royal SunAlliance, principal sponsor of the Auckland Philharmonia, and Penn Trevella, marketing co-ordinator of The Royal New Zealand Ballet.

The final Southland workshop, Regional Opportunities (February 2002), will be the starting point to develop a further objective of the pilot - an Arts Action Calendar to co-ordinate and promote Southland arts and culture. All of the workshops will also inform current strategic planning about arts and culture in the greater Southland region and will be used towards the development of a Leisure Plan.

For the Hawke’s Bay pilot, a report on the scope and economic impact of the arts, culture and heritage sector in the region has been commissioned. Ros Stewart, Chairman of Creative Napier, says that a similar study was done in Dunedin and revealed that the arts turned over more money than the city’s port.

The pilot will also result in a Hawke’s Bay arts guide, listing all artists and venues in the region. “We’ll be launching an arts trail in October and want to position this on a par with wine and food trails of the region,” Ros Stewart says.

The third part of the Hawke’s Bay pilot, which is still at an early stage, is setting up a regional arts trust to unite the sector within Napier and Hastings, and to provide leadership, promotion and advocacy for the arts community.

A performance venue directory is under way for the Northland pilot. Chris Neill, Chief Executive Officer of the Arts Promotion Trust (Northland), says there has been extensive local research, and a list of venues throughout the region has been put together to form the basis for this directory.

Northland is also looking to set up an Arts North website to promote the arts and art venues throughout the region. “We’re talking to Northland Polytech about how the website will best meet the needs of those who wish to use it,” Mr Neill says. “We also want it to link up with Destination Northland and Art Find.”

In addition, Northland will use its pilot funding to help promote Northland artists, both nationally and internationally.

One of the main objectives of the Auckland pilot, Creative Cities, is to bring together its four city councils - Auckland, Manukau, North Shore and Waitakere City - to work collectively and strategically on regional arts development.

“Creative Cities is a regional initiative involving local authorities working across their boundaries to support and develop the region’s arts infrastructure,” say Paul Heron, Manager, Leisure Advisors, Auckland City Council.

The pilot supports innovative projects that focus on developing sustainable arts infrastructure. Five Concept Development Workshops have been set up across Auckland in July to provide information about the pilot and help arts practitioners develop project ideas. Following the workshops, Creative Cities will call for submissions for project funding and recipients will be announced in late October.

Ends

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