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Lowdown: Creative Contributions Leave Lasting Legacy

23 Feb 2024

From the passing of community icons to recognition for leading creative minds - and how your opinion could be worth $2K - your arts news bulletin keeps you on the pulse.

When someone makes a difference in their corner of the world - the community notices.

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Phil Belcher. Photo: Creative Arts Napier/Facebook.

When those same people pass, the community mourns.

Tributes are flowing for Phil Belcher, who has given so much to the arts, particularly around the Hawke's Bay.

Creative Arts Napier posted on Facebook "We mourn the loss of an extraordinary artist whose creativity enriched our lives. 

"It is with heavy hearts that we acknowledge the passing of Phil Belcher, a dedicated and passionate Kaiwhakairo who devoted his life to Whakairo, education, and the preservation of matauranga Māori and Toi Māori. 

"Phil's kindness and generosity touched all who had the privilege of knowing him, and his legacy will endure through his incredible whakairo, which graces the landscapes of Te Matau-a-Māui and the private collections of those who admired his mahi. 

"His departure leaves a profound void in both our wider community and our creative circles. 

"May his wairua continue to inspire us as we honour and uphold his memory. His impact will be felt for generations to come.

"Your legacy will forever inspire us, moe mai rā e te Rangatira."

Hawke's Bay Today also paid tribute, referring to Belcher as "One of Hawke’s Bay’s most respected artists" who showed "incredible dedication to Māori arts and culture, as well as his passion for helping his local community.

Ngāti Kahungunu chief executive Bayden Barber stated that the tōtara pou that proudly stands at Waimārama beach will forever continue to live as a testament to the life and wairua of Belcher.

“Even though he was not Māori whakapapa-wise, he was raised in Waimārama and had a very close connection to the marae and our ancestral sites of significance.

“He was very generous with his time and talent. All of the pou will stand as a testament to his work. One of the first pou you see when you enter Waimārama is one of Phil’s.”

Designer vs scientist vs sports administrator

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Kiri Nathan. Photo: Supplied.

The creative community is represented in the New Zealander of The Year awards, with the finalists confirmed this week.

In the running for the top prize is award-winning fashion designer Kiri Nathan (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Hauā, Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Paoa) who last year made history as the first Māori designer to open New Zealand Fashion Week since its inception. 

With a litany of career triumphs including being founder of the Kāhui Collective -  supporting the growth and mentorship of indigenous fashion creatives and entrepreneurs - working with Walk Disney, having her garments showcased at the Oscars and on the bodies of international icons like Barack and Michelle Obama, Meghan Markle and Beyoncé - Nathan's no stranger to the red carpet. This time, it will be her in the spotlight, as well as the garment.

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Matt Brown. Photo: Supplied.

She's up against FIFA Women's World Cup supremo Dame Sarai Bareman and climate scientist Dr Jim Salinger.

Among the host of nominees through a range of other categories - another member of the creative community is in the running for the Local Hero of the Year.

Author, communicator and art supporter Matt Brown has been one of the country's leading advocates standing up against domestic violence by supporting perpetrators in their journey towards healing. 

He and his partner Sarah are the driving forces behind the ‘It’s not OK' Campaign and co-founded ‘She Is Not Your Rehab' - opening an art gallery of the same name in 2022 which has hosted exhibitions involving the likes of the internationally acclaimed Graeme Hoete AKA Mr G.

The winners will be announced on 27 March at the Awards Gala. 

Three for Tse

Winning prestigious awards is always impactful on creative careers.

Having your time in the role extended out of the blue - that's a cherry on top.

That's what's happened for leading creative Chris Tse - with the National Library of New Zealand pushing out the term of the current New Zealand Poet Laureate for a third year. 

The decision came following advice from the Poet Laureate Advisory Group to make the standard period of the term three years - and kicking in with Tse rather than waiting for the next recipient.

Tse - understandably - is pretty stoked.

“There's nothing more valuable to a writer than the gift of time, so I'm thrilled and honoured to receive an extension to my tenure as New Zealand's Poet Laureate. Thank you to National Librarian Rachel Esson and the National Library for their steadfast and enthusiastic support of the New Zealand Poet Laureate Award and poetry in New Zealand.”

The value of the Poet Laureate Award becomes $150,000 over three years. The Laureate receives $40,000 per year while the Library retains $10,000 per year to support the Laureate’s participation in poetry events and festivals. 

Among those consulted ahead of the extension, previous Laureates including David Eggleton, who explained “Two years, as it has been, is a brief term so to have three years allows the Laureate to really make a difference and put their own stamp on the role.”

Mandatory money kicks in

Last year, The Big Idea covered the establishment of the mandatory artist creation fee from NZ On Air.

Since it kicked into life in January - a total of 32 artists have been funded in this latest New Music Single funding round, with $10,000 going to support their recording, video and promotion costs and a mandatory $1,000 going direct to the artist.

The Artist Creation Fee had previously been optional and part of the overall total funding approved.  Teresa Patterson, NZ On Air Head of Music explains “What we noticed over the years is that artists were not taking up the option of the fee but everyone else involved in the recording and promotion of the single or project was being paid. 

“So it was clear the fee needed to be mandatory and added on top of each New Music funding grant, to ensure that the artist was also being paid for their craft. This is the very first cohort of artists that will receive that.”

NZ On Air received 219 eligible applications for this latest round and one-third of the funded songs come from first-time recipients of NZ On Air New Music Single funding. Of the 32 funded artists, over 60% of the successful applicants identified as female, mixed gender group, or gender diverse. Funding was also spread around artists based throughout Aotearoa creating a wide range of music.

$2K worth of support - just for giving your opinion

The Big Idea exists for creatives to be championed, have their voices heard and to help build sustainable and satisfying careers.

So here's your chance to be heard.

After a big response last year, we've opened the doors for your opinion again with The Big Idea's Creative Sector Pulse Check 2024.

We want you to tell us how we can help you develop your career and what you think Aotearoa's creative community needs to thrive by filling in this brief survey.

What's in it for you? Glad you asked. Everyone who completes the Pulse Check by 20 March goes in the draw to win $2000 worth of promotion - giving you the chance to have your mahi, your views seen by The Big Idea's audience of creative supporters and practitioners.  

This has the potential to open doors in your creative career or for your organisation - as well as help sculpt what you want to see more of here on TBI.

We want to help you thrive - tell us what matters to you.

Talent injection at WORD

It's the season for major festival acquisitions.

Hot on the heels of Tāwhiri announcing the powerhouse pair of Dolina Wehipeihana and Tama Waipara as their two new Festival Co-Directors, WORD Christchurch have jumped in with a dynamic duo of their own.

In their desire to elevate Māori writers and storytellers, as well as creatives across the country poet Tayi Tibble and writer Jordan Tricklebank as their Programmers-at-Large for the 2024 festival (27 August-1 September).

Tibble (Ngāti Porou/Te Whānau ā Apanui) has built an undeniable international presence and is one of the hottest Indigenous poets on the planet right now, having been published in the New Yorker magazine in 2023, the first Māori writer to do so.

She's a former Adam Foundation Prize in Creative Writing winner for her work In a Fish Tank Filled with Pink Light, which went on to become her first collection, Poūkahangatus (2018). Her second book of poetry, Rangikura, was published in the United States in 2023.

Tricklebank  (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Mahuta) is best known as Jordan from Māori Lit Blog, an influential online publication (and Instagram channel) championing Māori writing, new and old.

He is also the creator and editor of Pūhia, a journal that showcases literature and art by Māori creators, and was the recipient of the 2023 Verb Micro Residency, and facilitated events at the festival.

The pair will work with Programme Director Kiran Dass who states, “I have long admired the work that both Tayi and Jordan do, and I’m thrilled to be collaborating with them on our 2024 programme. We’ve already had some exciting conversations, so you’ll want to stay tuned!”

Executive Director Steph Walker adds, “Having Tayi and Jordan join us from two other major cities is a brilliant creative collaboration, and allows us to stretch our limited resources further to bring the best artists to Ōtautahi Christchurch for our eager audiences.”