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2017: Top Stories & Editors Picks

Rekindle Resourcefulness Workshops
A selection of our readers favourite stories of 2017 plus our editors top picks.


It’s that time of year, and we’ll be taking a break here at The Big Idea from Friday 22nd December until mid January. Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season. We're looking forward to celebrating another ambitious  year of arts and creativity across Aotearoa in 2018. In the meantime, stock up on some inspiration over the break with 2017's top stories and a selection of our editors favourite picks:


Jo Randerson: Call to Action
The one and only Jo Randerson urges artists to challenge the structures that limit the status of artists in our society. She advocates for artists boldly saying no to poor offers and politely feeding back their reasons for declining.

“There are a lot of really poor offers that are made by institutions and companies to artists, and we continue to say yes to those offers."

James Nokise: Balancing sanity and involvement
Insightful and thought-provoking, James Nokise heads one of the most important conversations that needs to happen in the arts when he shares his story about alcoholism and welfare in the sector at large.

“People don’t necessarily drop out of the arts because there’s no work. They drop out because psychologically it becomes too heavy.”

Jack Trolove: "I'm an artist"
In an honest account, Jack Trolove discusses the personal journey he has taken to be able to claim the title “artist” for himself and the ongoing battle of finding financial stability in the arts.

“This is what we love and what we do, but often the way the systems work here make sustainability a real challenge.”

Funding 101: How to write effective funding applications
A practical guide to writing CNZ funding applications with advice from both staff and artists in the know. Includes the top tips from the Creative New Zealand team.

Advocating for the Arts
As the new Government began trying to live up to its election promises, Mark Amery turned to artists themselves to gather advice from the sector on priorities for the arts over the next three years.

“We need to bring together a mandate for government. In advocacy, who will lead?”


“So..what do you do for a job?”
Reflecting on Jack Trolove’s story we approached a bunch of artists to ask them how they navigate this loaded and awfully common kiwi conversation starter. The responses are insightful, sometimes funny, other times heartbreaking and all beautifully expressed.

“I thought perhaps after a given number of paintings, fifty say, or one hundred, the word "artist" will come more naturally.”

Rekindling Resourcefulness
The incredible story of Juliet Arnott, founder of the social enterprise Rekindle which rose out of post-quake Christchurch. She weaves the story of establishing Rekindle and how her values have led her to shift her focus to set up Resourceful Ōtautahi.

“There is an enormous need for people to feel purpose and meaning, so I create opportunities for people to feel this.”

Amber Curreen: Changing the narrative
I have no doubt that Amber’s will be a voice that will continue to grow in strength and influence within the essential discourse around unconscious bias that dominates the arts favouring Pākehā work over and about Māori and all others. In this article, spoken in her own words, Amber reveals the true nature behind her work at Te Pou Theatre, the Auckland home of Māori theatre.

"For me, it starts with the reo. When I look around now, we’re in a place in the development of the language where everything that you do can make a difference.”

Global Anxiety
Mark Amery takes a bold look at New Zealand’s global responsibilities and understandings reflecting on the role of the arts to embrace the uncomfortable and the unfamiliar as a way to provoke these conversations.

“As much as Aotearoa New Zealand asserts its place in the world, in the Asia Pacific region, as part of a globalised economy and online environment, there lingers attitudes borne of feeling at a distance.”

John Crawford: Action on Homelessness
A social issue that has been at the forefront of our attention in 2017, the boldness with which John approached this project and the raw power of his photography blew me away. It is a true indication of how capable we are as individual members of society to use our creativity to encourage fundamental change.

“I didn’t realise the tragedies of people's lives.”


Written by

Hannah Mackintosh

19 Dec 2017

Hannah is a Wellington-based writer, community organiser and lover of stories.