October 10, 2008

MAPPING THE FUTURE Of The Arts In Wellington
– Summary – September 2008

E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā maunga, e ngā awaawa, e ngā pātaka o ngā taonga tuku iho, tçnā koutou.

Over the past 12 months Wellington City Council’s new arts unit, City Arts, has been working with the arts sector in Wellington to develop a shared vision for the future of the arts in the city.  The purpose of this process was to develop a basis for joint future action involving the arts sector, the Council and other parties, which together contribute to the development and presentation of arts activity in the city.

This ongoing process has to date involved a wide range of preliminary meetings with diverse sector groups and individuals involved in the making and presentation of art throughout Wellington. These discussions created a framework for a series of six artform-specific hui held in August/September 08.

Well over 400 arts practitioners [artists, organisations, producers and presenters] have been involved in this process to date. Approximately 90% of these are from the professional sector and have included artists, producers, educators, managers, funders and representatives of most key arts organisations within Wellington City.

The Mapping the Future of the Arts in Wellington hui were essentially a conversation. The facilitated format framed a series of group discussions which allowed for cross pollination and the distillation of ideas and themes. These explored

Ø      "What we value about the arts",

Ø      "Our vision of a healthy arts city",

Ø      "The Big Questions we need to answer in order to ensure this healthy future", and

Ø      Some key priorities and possible actions for addressing the Big Questions.

This summary documents some of the clear themes and priorities that emerged from Mapping the Future, highlights some of the suggested action around these priorities and outlines the next steps planned in this ongoing conversation. As an appendix attached is a list of the questions explored during this conversation.

What we value about being involved in the arts  

Participants spoke of the value of arts as a framework for:

Ø      Change/growth

Ø      Tolerance/ resilience

Ø      Exploration/freedom

Ø      Identity/history

Ø      Community and Communication

Ø      Fun

Ø      Self and collective expression and

Ø      Making sense of our world and our lives

Ø      A Healthy Arts City

When participants built a vision of a healthy arts city they ‘spoke’ of a city in which art was part of the fabric of everyone’s lives, with an underpinning awareness of the value the arts bring to society, with increased participation at all levels, strong community platforms and diverse opportunities for everyone to engage in the making and appreciation of the arts.

Participants also spoke of a vibrant, connected, well supported, risk taking and ambitious art sector. A sector able to recognise and act on opportunities. A sector more engaged with communities as leaders and facilitators. They spoke of a sector connected across art forms and organisations, across communities, cities, regions and countries. They spoke of Wellington as a showcase for NZ, confident in its ability to lead the country. They spoke of a strong network of hard and soft infrastructure – access to a variety of creation and presentation spaces, resources, skills and wisdom. Of a supportive council and government. They spoke of effective mechanisms for linking arts experiences with audiences. And of arts education as a lifelong journey.

The Big Questions

The big questions that emerged, and emerged consistently during the sessions can be grouped into two areas

Ø      Growing the publics relationship with art

Valuing the arts: These questions focused on how the public value the arts as an activity and product, how the arts can be more widely valued for what it offers society, how decision makers might be encouraged to better appreciate the contribution the arts makes to our wellbeing and how we [as practitioners/the sector] might better articulate our value and measure our success in relationship to this value.

Public Engagement:        Many questions came up about how the public might be better supported to engage with arts activity as participants and as audiences. Also consistently raised was how do we build a lifelong learning approach to arts. And diversity of art form, environments and opportunities to engage in the arts also featured across all sessions.

Ø      Strengthening the arts sectors ability to deliver quality and diverse arts experiences

Connection:          Many, many questions emerged around how to strengthen our interconnectedness – between practitioners, arts organisations, our audiences, other sectors including business, health, education. Questions focused around the building of networks and linking activity – around the creating of stronger partnerships across the sector to maximise the effective use of resources and knowledge, to build a vibrant, inquiring and aspirational sector.

Infrastructure:     There were many questions around creating better infrastructure for production and presentation. Increasing access to venues and resources. And around marketing and our Arts and Culture Capital brand.

Professional development: Of central concern for many participants was how we might better share/gain  skills through mentoring opportunities and ongoing professional development. There were many questions also around the development of business skills amongst artists.

Growing the art forms: Questions here focused around how we might broaden the common definition of art activity and how we might develop partnerships with other socially engaged sectors. Many questions also emerged about how we might create more diversity within the art forms, diversity of activity and opportunities to access the work.

The Key Priorities

Priorities were identified by participants as:

Ø      Strengthening networks, partnerships, access to information and resources

Increasing access to information and resources, supporting collaboration, strengthening partnerships between independent practitioners and arts organisations. Strengthening partnerships across organisations. Strengthening partnership with business sector.

Ø      Strengthening infrastructure for production and presentation

Ensuring appropriate and viable venues to support sustainable/ongoing quality arts production and presentation. Increasing access to existing venues. Exploring need of a creation space/venue with a Māori kaupapa to allow the possibility of Wellington as the home of contemporary Māori art. Development of showcase events/platforms – particularly for the music and literary sectors. Strengthening of distribution/touring partnerships outside Wellington.


Ø      Increasing public participation in the arts.

This priority includes advocating the value of the arts to society. Advocacy for participation in arts activity. Increased diversity of art activity. Strengthening of arts education at recreational and professional levels. Growing the opportunities for the arts sector to engage with other sectors e.g. health/education. Strengthening the quality and quantity of media coverage of arts activity.

Ø      Strengthening arts marketing – within and beyond Wellington

Strengthening marketing of arts activity within Wellington. Strengthening marketing of Wellington arts activity and Arts and Culture Capital to NZ/World.

Ø      Professional development for artists

Increasing opportunities for mentoring/artist development/skills exchange. Training new and up-skilling existing producers. Increasing opportunities for tangata whenua to share their skills/expertise/creative frameworks. Increasing opportunities for artists to develop skills for sustainable professional practice.

Possible Action

Possible actions, initiated either within the sector or by Council, that Mapping the Future participants felt would attend to one or more of these priorities, included the following:

Ø      Strengthening networks, partnerships, access to information and resources

o        Development of an Arts Resource Hub at Toi Poneke – a staffed resources space with hot desks, information, space to meet up with people. A space for information exchange.

o        Setting up of Wellington Music Network to support the development of the music sector from a grass roots base

o        Continued forums for the exchange of information, ideas, vision and collaboration

o        The ongoing brokering of relationships across the arts sector/increased partnerships with and between arts organisations

o        Strengthening the use of The Big Idea once TBI 2.0 launched later this year

o        Development of a literary website/hub/house


Ø      Strengthening infrastructure for production and presentation

o        Setting up of a Venue Study including an audit of current spaces and needs, an analysis of future needs, recommendations for increasing access to existing spaces and developing new spaces

o        The development of a creation space based on tikanga Māori

o        The development of an annual music festival showcasing Wellington musicians

Ø      Increasing public participation in the arts.

o        Establishing a high level Arts Ambassador position or positions – potential research positions

o        Set up of a ‘push-play’ campaign for art activity

o        A hui for arts educators

o        Development of a cross-organisation arts education unit

o        Educating artists to work with communities and in other socially engaged settings

o        Setting up a participatory arts hui

Ø      Strengthening arts marketing – within and beyond Wellington

o        An audit of current arts marketing within and beyond Wellington City. Development of strategy to improve arts marketing. Implementation of this strategy.

Ø      Professional development for artists

o        Setting up or strengthening of mentoring programmes

o        Strengthening partnerships with tertiary arts educators

The Next Step

Ø      Please circulate these notes to interested people.  We welcome feedback on this brief summary and any suggestions for its improvement.  As we move forward, the focus will be on progress against the identified priorities and actions.  If there are activities that you think should be listed there, please tell us about these in particular.  Our contact email is arts@wcc.govt.nz

Ø      Please also contact us if you would like to be actively involved in advancing any of the proposed actions.  City Arts is willing to facilitate working groups on areas of action where necessary. 

Ø      City Arts is also willing to co-ordinate the sharing of information about progress on the actions identified.  We will do this through the City Arts Panui.  Please sign up for the Panui by visiting the Council’s website at http://www.wellington.govt.nz/services/webalerts/subscribe.php.  Please note that due to legislation around unsolicited emails, you will not receive the Panui unless you go through and sign yourself up for it. 

Ø      As we hope you all will, City Arts will look at actions that it can progress as a team or in partnership with other parts of the Wellington City Council.  It will also use the information to inform the review of the Council’s Cultural Well-being Strategy and its Long Term Council Community Plan which will be put out for consultation in March / April 2009.

No reira, noho pai mai i roto i ngā manaakitanga katoa. 

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