Wheels On The Bus Go Round And Round
While many arts agencies are encumbered by scale, one small Christchurch based touring agency is rolling on. Arts On Tour NZ has survived the last 25 years by selecting high quality Kiwi acts to tour.
“Staying small and supporting local, has allowed us to prosper come earthquakes, plague or closed borders,” says Steve Thomas, the veteran arts promoter and poet.
Since establishing Arts on Tour NZ in Christchurch in 1995, the agency has generated over $4 million in revenue as direct income to Kiwi artists. Touring acts from Kaitaia to Stewart Island, it has thrived with the assistance of Creative NZ and many voluntary arts supporters, communities and charitable trusts.
Arts On Tour NZ has promoted over 200 original Kiwi artists and groups including the Front Lawn, Don McGlashan, The Eastern, Marlon Williams, Moana Maniapoto, Michele A’Court, Penny Ashton, Whirimako Black, Delaney Davidson, NZ String Quartet, NZ Trio, and many other Kiwi acts, who have continued significant careers, here and overseas.
With the borders closed and encouragements to buy local, Kiwi artists are in demand. “Now there is less sport happening, music and theatre enters the stage to take the limelight and lift the spirits, in a way that only the arts can. No winners and losers here, just beauty and bathos, and experiences you will never forget, “ Mr Thomas said.
In addition, the AOTNZ programme is environmentally sustainable, as artists travel to their audiences rather than the reverse.
The film Central to the Soul premiered in 2019 at the 14th International Doc Edge festival tells the story. https://youtu.be/AMLrN9B8sZc