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7 Aug 2023

Waikato Performing Arts Strategy

The Waikato Region is flourishing with a diverse array of performing arts talents and possibilities.

We have seen our performers create works here that connect with local audiences, and then go on to deliver joy and passion, to provoke thought and emotion, and to thrive both in other spaces nationally and internationally.

As we envisioned a future for performing arts, both in and from the Waikato, it became clear that a community-led strategy is essential to create a positive impact in the next phase of our journey. We know there is a wealth of amazing creative potential in the performing arts communities of the Waikato.

As we outlined in our Interim Report, the process 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.”

The idea of a community-led holistic strategy aligns with the core concepts of the Waikato Arts Navigator (WAN) – the overarching Waikato art, culture and creativity strategy. It was important that there was a clear connection between the WAN and our new Performing Arts Strategy (PAS). They should work in the same spaces with the same community and ideally work together towards the same purpose while acknowledging the individual and specific needs of Performing Arts.

So, where the WAN works towards a vision of a “Waikato Region that thrives with diverse and transformative creative activity”, the PAS shares the following vision where: “The Waikato Performing Arts ecosystem thrives through inspiring communities and enabling diverse creative activity”. These are connected ideas contributing to collective impact.

The PAS is a collective strategic framework that can be utilised by all parts of the ecosystem. Funders and enablers; venues, spaces and places; artists, organisations and groups; education providers; technical suppliers; and all the other important components of a multifaceted performing arts ecosystem.

This Waikato Performing Arts Strategy is a tool to help achieve broader impact. It is about encouraging collaborative approaches to positive change. It is a shared language, a way to understand and communicate the value of what we do, and to find ways to work with one another to enhance the role of arts, culture and creativity in the region. Find the full strategy below:

How might it be useful:

It is helpful to know with this type of strategy it is not up to one individual group to do and achieve everything. If we all play a part, we can collectively head in the same direction and make greater overall progress and impact.

Artists and Groups

Use this thinking to support the work you plan to do or are already doing. Ask yourself, ‘how does my project serve the wider ecosystem?’ ‘Where might I be able to work collaboratively to achieve greater outcomes?’. This strategic framework will be useful to utilise within your project plans and funding applications so that you can share the stories of the impact of your work.

Larger Performing Arts Organisations

As part of your funding applications, use this framework to guide your project design and implementation. Expand your understanding of how your work, your programming, and your community engagement can make a broader positive impact on our individual and collective wellbeing. We can view investment in the arts, as an investment in people. We utilise arts, culture and creativity as a pathway to enhance the holistic wellbeing of our people. Use this understanding and key threads as part of your advocacy around the impact of your work for your communities.

Venues, Spaces and Places

Think strategically about the role you play in the wider ecosystem and how you can collaborate with others in this space. There is great potential in a collaborative approach that encourages an abundance mindset. Utilise this document as a component of your strategic planning, and allow this strategy to provide some of the work of that process, so that you can focus on aligning your action points and areas of focus with the themes. Remember that if we all utilise this framework, we strengthen its impact and potential for change.

Councils, Funders and Enablers

To inform your own short and long-term action plan and investments, the PAS can be used. Work with the venues, organisations and infrastructure to celebrate the strengths of your community and work with activators in your local areas to partner with them to enable more activity. Encourage more investment in the ecosystem as a driver of civic identity, pride, positive experiences and cultural wellbeing. Alongside the allocation of funding, your activation in this area can be removing barriers for access, supporting the utilisation of spaces and places, and connecting communities to activities that are already going on. There is real strength to be gained across the societal ecosystem through utilising this thinking in a holistic sense.

Education Providers

Look at how your work and offerings can contribute to the regional impact in this space. This can be through traditional training programmes, but also short courses, engaging with local suppliers, and utilising research scope within tertiary institutions to support community aspirations. Education providers in the Performing Arts in the Waikato range from youth classes, to formal schooling, to itinerant lessons, to apprenticeship-style training on the job in local venues and performance groups, through to tertiary study – all these components are important contributors to the activation of this strategy.

Final thoughts:

Performing arts are often time-based live arts experiences that tell stories through movement, sound and light. The performing arts take many different forms and have been fundamental and essential components of the human experience throughout time. They are often collective experiences that bring people together. They have individual impacts and connections, but also link us as people and strengthen social cohesion.

Our individual experiences with the performing arts in all its shapes and forms connect with us in different ways, they inspire us to think and feel and act. Those individual experiences connect into the way we live, and influence our connections with the people around us. Through artistic experiences, there is a flow of impact that shapes and changes, moving like water from the individual to the group to the community. This is where we get to understand the true value and meaning of performing arts in our lives.

There is potential to think about the way we tell and celebrate local stories, to embed vibrancy into communities, to encourage new ways of thinking and inspire conversations. This is from a holistic view of wellbeing, and exploring the possibilities of an integrated and intertwined development process.

For Creative Waikato, we hope that this Performing Arts Strategy becomes a living document that is embedded throughout the ecosystem, with us all working together to enhance our communities through this storytelling. The Performing Arts Strategy supports us to celebrate what it is to be human, and to enhance our connections with one another, alongside future generations.

Read the strategy here