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25 Nov 2022

The Face of Social Impact - Artists Announced for Whiria te Tāngata

Meet the Waikato artists selected for Aotearoa’s first multi-community artist-in-residence programme – Whiria te Tāngata (Weave the People together)

In September 2022 , an open call went out for artists with a particular kind of magic – the kind of magic that can’t be taught, and lives already at the surface of this type of person. A magic that so far – may have only existed in a volunteer capacity, already grinding and focused on the pathway of change for their hapori. The magic of community focused, creative enabling.

Submissions came in floods and the shared intent each of the applicants presented toward the outward focus of positive community growth, wellbeing and impact through their creative practice, affirmed the necessity for this exploration in social innovation to exist. 

From the submissions, Ten Independent Artists have been chosen to weave creativity and wellbeing into the diverse and under-represented communities they are already activating across the Waikato. With support from the team at Creative Waikato, and financial backing through Manatū Taonga’s (Ministry of Culture and Heritage) innovation fund. 

Over 12-months beginning 1st December 2022, each artist will; receive a part-time wage supporting 20hrs mahi a week dedicated to the kaupapa, be connected to an industry mentor to expand and support their learning and delivery, and have Creative Waikato in their back pocket to lean on when needed, including the dedicated support and guidance of Whiria Te Tāngata Project Lead – Leafā Wilson. 

“Something is emerging in the creative consciousness of the world,” shares Wilson. 

“I see it as the world awakening to the fact that we FEEL BETTER when we experience music, visual art, literature and performing arts in our lives. On a small scale, Creative Waikato is fortunate to have found 10 inspired and hapori-focused artists to launch Whiria Te Tāngata into our Waikato communities.” 

The selected group stood out for their already shared vision, reinforced as the 10 came together for a welcoming wānanga event that immediately brought to the surface a clear thread of similar intent, optimism and excitement for the scope of possibility this opportunity will allow them to create and sustain in their communities.

Following on from the release of Creative Waikato’s Wellbeing and Arts, Culture and Creativity in the Waikato Report, CEO Dr Jeremy Mayall is excited to be leading a new initiative that “really champions these insights through investing in creative enablers who are directly connected with people in their communities.” 

“There has been an emergence of understanding about the vital role of arts, culture, and creativity as a fundamental part of being human, as well the broader value of having these things accessible for everyone to engage with” says Mayall.  

We have seen examples of similar ‘artist wage type’ projects in San Francisco, Ireland, and New York, and it is great to join those communities in championing the work of artists and creative enablers and leading new pathways for social impact and change.

Without further adieu – we are thrilled to share the faces of social impact, the first recipients of the Whiria Te Tāngata pilot programme: 

Benny Marama 

Emiko Sheehan 

Fay Purdie-Nicholls 

Ifat Vayner-Itzkovitch

Isaiah McIver

Margaret Feeney

Matt Sephton

Melanie Allison

Oriwa Morgan Ward 

Sasha McGaughran

Get to know each artist by reading their bios here.

Memorise the faces, celebrate the mahi, and follow the journey at @creativewaikato 

If anyone wishes to explore the topic further – please reach out to the Creative Waikato team at hello@creativewaikato.co.nz