The Waikato performing arts sector and the arts and culture ecosystem as a whole is on the verge of change. There is a wealth of amazing creative potential in the performing arts communities of the Waikato, and we have had the pleasure of engaging with a broad range of voices from our community to hear about visions for the future of the Performing Arts in the Waikato region.
With the construction of the new Waikato Regional Theatre in our midst, and a sector that is re-emerging from the impacts of the pandemic, there is an opportunity to build upon the strengths of local performing arts activity, which can in turn elevate the sector and help to bring about wider societal, social and economic change.
This was an opportunity to meaningfully engage with our diverse communities, and to hear from the people who are already having a great impact on the performing lives of our region, but who also want to see the sector continue to thrive and to help shape the future for this vital ecosystem. To build a strategic framework for the Performing Arts in the Waikato. A community-led holistic strategy that looked at pathways, access and equity, stories, flourishing creative careers, and those transformative experiences that inspire us and bring joy, wonder, inspiration and connection to our lives.
Alongside research, insights from other work, and guidance from a strategic advisory group, the Creative Waikato team wanted to properly understand the performing arts sector ecosystem from all vantage points, so interviews and focus groups were undertaken, which included 70 people who are involved in the performing arts sector i.e., artists, arts organisations, educators and technicians, but also sought to capture voices of those in the wider community including ethnic groups, community houses, LGBTQI+, Māori, Pasifika, people working with youth and those who have access issues.
The questions asked of people were focused on understanding thoughts and ideas on what a thriving performing arts sector looks like, what the challenges and opportunities are for the performing arts sector, the communities’ experience of using current venues and what opportunities there were to complement and support the Waikato Regional Theatre as a new part of the local ecosystem.
As part of wanting to make sure this process of engagement and knowledge sharing was, and is, reciprocal, we wanted to take an opportunity to share an interim report with the Waikato community to highlight what we have heard, what we have learned, and how the strategy is taking shape. This presents some of the key themes that have emerged from this engagement, and frames some of the continued areas of enquiry and refinement.
This also presents an opportunity to continue the discussion. To continue to ensure that the complex ecosystem that is the Performing Arts in the Waikato can be supported to thrive, to inspire, to contribute to our collective and individual wellbeing, and to be valued for the sharing of local stories, diverse cultures, and creative experiences well into the future in accessible, sustainable and meaningful ways.
Please find the Interim Community Report here.