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New Leadership for Creative Bay of Plenty

07 Aug 2020
Creative Bay of Plenty has named Eric Holowacz as its new General Manager to build new vision for Tauranga and the Western Bay

One of New Zealand’s leading Regional Arts Development agencies, Creative Bay of Plenty has announced the appointment of Eric Holowacz as new General Manager. He began on 15 June and replaces Meg Davis who has relocated to Auckland for a new opportunity there. 

Mr Holowacz brings a background spanning three decades in the arts, culture, and heritage sector—including leadership roles with non-profit organisations, cultural facilities and festivals, and local governments around the world. Growing up in Columbia, South Carolina, Mr Holowacz first worked with the State Arts Agency there, then Spoleto Festival in Charleston, followed by a six-year tenure as Executive Director of the Arts Council of Beaufort County. There in a small coastal town he created space for creative innovation, ambitious public art initiaitves, collaborations, and festivals in partnership with the community around him.

“I am so excited about joining the CBOP team and working to enhance the arts, culture, and heritage aspects of our communities,” said Holowacz. “Despite the recent shock to community and country—and unexpected downtime for everybody—I firmly believe that the arts and creativity will show us the way to recovery, bold new opportunities, and a return to community togetherness, cohesion, and new creative responses.”

Mr Holowacz migrated to New Zealand in 2002 and moved to the Bay of Plenty in 2017. He served as Wellington City Council’s arts manager from 2003-2007, and led a diverse portfolio of cultural initiatives such as Drive by Art, Opening Notes Project, Artsplash Festival, and helped establish Toi Poneke Arts Centre for the capital’s creative sector. His more recent arts roles have included the founding of The Studios of Key West in Florida, leadership of Sedona Arts Centre in Arizona, and directorship of Whakatane Museum.

“Until May I served as chief executive of Creative Capital Arts Trust in Wellington, and divided my time between there and home in Ōhope,” he said. “I was in the middle of directing and delivering both the New Zealnad Fringe Festival and the beautiful disruption that is CubaDupa—then came Covid-19 to halt our ambitious festival plans, and make me realise that I needed to be here with my family in the Bay of Plenty. I jumped at the opportunity to work with CBOP and the communities I love and call home.”

Creative Bay of Plenty Board Chair, Suzanne McNicol said that she was pleased with the number and quality of applicants from Tauranga, New Zealand and internationally which demonstrates that our region is now known for more than its natural beauty and lifestyle.

“Everyone we interviewed recognised the growth in our arts and culture scene over the past three years and had strong ideas on how CBOP can enhance and accelerate that,” she said. “While the calibre of our short list was exceptional, Eric’s success in creative placemaking and growing thriving arts organisations here and overseas shone through in his interviews and his references.”

Ms McNicol added that Mr Holowacz’s strengths in fundraising and building enduring partnerships would be critical in growing Tauranga’s arts and culture sector following the economic disruption of Covid 19.

Tauranga’s Mayor, Tenby Powell agreed that arts and culture will play a pivotal role in encouraging residents to resume a ‘normal’ life now that New Zealand has moved to Level 1: “There are so many great reasons to live and work in Tauranga, and I look forward to seeing Creative Bay of Plenty collaborate with businesses, iwi, artists, educators, and Council to showcase our unique cultural identity.”

Western Bay of Plenty Mayor, Garry Webber said that the region has a well-established arts community as evidenced by the Open-Air Art Festival and Katikati Museum. “There is no doubt that the experience of arts and culture is a key aspect of making the Western Bay a better place,” he said. “I am looking forward to working with Mr Holowacz to build on the strong links that Creative Bay of Plenty has with the many arts and community organisations that operate within our District.”

Creative Bay of Plenty is a champion of the arts and culture sector in Tauranga Moana and the Western Bay of Plenty. The non-profit organisation was founded in 1969 as the Tauranga Community Arts Council, and continues a mission of making our communities more creative, vibrant, and interesting. The CBOP team work hard to connect, upskill, support, and promote local artists and opportunities, and are grateful for major funding from Tauranga City Council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Creative New Zealand and generous local businesses.

"This is the perfect opportunity to increase the art, expand the ways we celebrate culture, and innovate the creative industries in small and gigantic ways," said Holowacz. "New Zealand is coming out of a pandemic; the world is changing around us, and here in a relatively small town we can show the way forward. We can support art and artists, establish new worlds, and lead our communities to better places. So that's what I intend to do as the new General Manager of Creative Bay of Plenty—use the arts as a roadmap to more exciting places."


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