Natasha Beckman’s lived the dream of many a young New Zealander - to fly the coop and make a name for themselves on the other side of the world.
But here’s the thing about the other side of the world...it’s not New Zealand.
And like the sound of the pūtātara luring her back to our shores, Beckman heard the call and came home after achieving career goals that read more like a bucket list than a CV.
“I think the key is in the word ‘home,’” Beckman nods. “No matter how far away I’ve been, Aotearoa will always be in my heart. I’m really enjoying being back in Auckland and love that it is such a multicultural city.
“It’s refreshing to be working with Kiwis again, especially their work ethic, positivity and Number 8 wire attitude to getting things done - there’s truly nothing like it. And finding a role that allows me to continue my international connections is wonderful.”
Natasha Beckman. Photo: Supplied.
That role is working as Director, Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific for the British Council, the United Kingdom’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. Given her ties and knowledge of the arts in both countries, it seems like a position custom-made for Beckman.
Her two decades worth of experience in the sector was ignited with roles at two of Tāmaki Makaurau’s cultural institutions. Beckman cut her teeth on a number of challenging roles inside Auckland Museum, including as Cultural Relations and Public Events Manager, before helming crucial Visual Arts roles for the 2007 and 2009 Auckland Arts Festivals.
While working at Auckland Museum, Beckman got her first taste of what the rest of the world had to offer. An internship at the famous Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC allowed her to work on one of the world’s largest festivals, The Smithsonian Folklife Festival and “from there, I was truly inspired.”
Natasha Beckman collecting one of several awards during her time in the UK. Photo: Supplied.
You’d be hard-pressed to get tickets to most of the events she’s been involved in since - let alone work them. The Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the London Olympics, The Venice Biennale, Art Basel and The Cannes Film Festival.
With a client list ranging from the Royal family to Michelle Obama, you start to get a sense of why Beckman’s services have been so sought after.
Urban Soul Orchestra performing at BMW 7 Series launch in Munich. Photo: Supplied.
Throughout her more than a little impressive OE, there was one role she held for the entirety - as Director of the Urban Soul Orchestra. Beckman worked closely with some of music’s most recognisable names like Annie Lennox and Liam Gallagher during hundreds of events around the globe.
Annie Lennox with Urban Soul Orchestra after a performance. Photo: Urban Soul Orchestra Facebook.
“I loved the challenge of building a world-class arts business in a new environment and having to design the strategy and forge the relationships around it. Producing creative projects for some of the world’s biggest brands, contributing to major events and working on amazing projects in collaboration with cutting edge organisations and incredible artists was so rewarding.”
Her extensive arts portfolio has played a leading role in landing her current gig with the British Council. “Arts and culture are an important part of the bilateral relationship and crucial in strengthening the people to people connection between the countries,” Beckman states.
“The chance to bring back all that I’ve learnt and the connections I’ve formed in the U.K. and Europe and to be reunited with my extensive networks here was just too good an opportunity to miss. Like so many who work in the arts, I’m genuinely passionate about what I do and I’m really eager to help make a difference.”
Only a few months into the role, Beckman’s focussed on making new relationships and gaining further insight into how the sector has developed since she was last based here - especially in the wake of COVID-19.
Natasha Beckman (left) with British High Commissioner Laura Clarke. Photo: Twitter.
Beckman also supports the call for more arts representation and diversity in general at board level - and is helping to hopefully pave the way for others to follow.
“As part of my role, I will sit on the New Zealand Network Strategy Board, alongside my fantastic colleagues from the British High Commission and British Consulate and including representatives from diverse sectors including Trade and Defence. I’m very much looking forward to bringing an arts and cultural perspective to the table.”
Given her track record, we hope that’s a big table.
For 19 years, The Big Idea has helped creatives find work and opportunities in New Zealand and arts organisations and creative companies find the right people.
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