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18 Jul 2023

ELEVATE: towards a growing and thriving creative sector

Creative Waikato’s pilot ELEVATE is a capability programme designed to meet the needs of the Waikato community and to contribute to more artists working in the sector, leading to a more creative, interesting and dynamic region.

In 2021 Hon Carmel Sepuloni, as Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, announced the launch of the Creative Careers Service, as a new pilot expected to support up to 1,000 creatives in its first two years. This service builds on the most successful aspects of the former Pathways to Arts and Cultural Employment programme [PACE].  PACE began in November 2001 from a Labour Party 1999 manifesto commitment to assist job seekers to develop a career in the arts and creative industries. At this time, Prime Minister Helen Clarke also held the portfolio of arts and culture, but this scheme was later discontinued by the national party.

Sepuloni said in 2021, “through selective providers in the creative sector, participants will benefit from extending their knowledge and developing skills to turn their talents into viable careers. The pilots are in Auckland, Waikato, and Nelson, and I’m hopeful that we can roll out the service nationwide if it is successful. This will help to nurture people’s creative talents across Aotearoa and support the sector to grow and thrive.”

Creative Waikato has long been a voice advocating the government to adopt such a scheme. So, when the opportunity arose to deliver on the Creative Careers Services scheme, they submitted a successful request for proposal. ELEVATE is therefore the Waikato pilot of the Creative Careers programme administered by Creative Waikato supported by the Ministry of Social Development and Manatū Taonga, Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

Creative Waikato is invested in having long lasting impact in the arts sector to continue to serve the region.  In creating the ELEVATE programme they draw from years of work, experience, awareness and from existing programmes, such as ArtReach and Pakihi Toi. The contract spans two years from February 2021 to February 2023 and has been extended.  Of course, this timeframe intersects with the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications including moving to an online platform, lockdowns and revised modes of working and delivering the programme.

Dr. Jeremy Mayall is the CEO of Creative Waikato and an acclaimed composer, musician, artist, producer and researcher. Mayall acknowledges the challenges of delivering ELEVATE under these circumstances, but also celebrates its outcomes. 

“The programme itself and the way it resonates with people has been what I expected in that it looks at what it is to be an artist holistically and provides useful tools and understanding to help people work through the various stages of development. One of the interesting things about being an artist is that often it’s a solo gig, but if you can go through a programme and meet a bunch of other people doing similar things and you can connect with other humans and find collaborators and just people to talk through where you’re at, that can be really beneficial. And so we’re looking at those small cohorts as communities of practice so they can support and enable one another; it becomes really exciting. That isn’t surprising, but it’s awesome to see that is what has been emerging.”

Creative Waikato staff are constantly evolving to meet the needs of the pilot and artists and to understand the broader complexities of the sector.  The 2023 version of ELEVATE has been redesigned with an altered structure while keeping to the paramaters of the pilot to meet best practice standards. With an ethos of being responsive to the community needs having digitised content available makes it easier to take part around other commitments. A human centered mentoring process ensures engagement and interaction alongside participants who can work collaboratively.

Programmes such as ELEVATE contribute to artists extending their knowledge and developing skills to turn their talents into viable careers. Mayall surmises.

“It’s serving artists and creatives in a way that is beyond having a job in the creative sector.  It’s about building communities of practice and thinking about engagement with audiences and things that are necessary in having rich creative careers. Because we want them to connect with people and be communicating and sharing ideas and doing all of those awesome things that arts, culture and creativity do anyway.”

Taking a more global and long-term view Mayall enthuses.

“As a society it becomes more awesome the more artists, we have making lives more interesting.  It contributes to how our cities look and feel and contributes to connections between people and community and wellbeing in many different ways so it’s exciting to see it all coming together.” Furthermore, he says.  “It’s been so encouraging to see so many practitioners coming through the programme, across different art forms, making awesome stuff and sharing it with the world.”

If you are interested in being part of ELEVATEfind the link below to find out more.

Find out about Elevate