Appointment of new Waikato arts trust head pending
The head of a new Waikato arts trust aimed at lifting the profile of the region's arts could be announced next week.
Creative Waikato chairman Chris Williams said the trust's board was still involved in the process of hiring a chief executive but expected an announcement shortly.
The new position will not be without its challenges, with the region under-represented in national funding.
Mr Williams said tapping into national arts funding would be a key focus of the trust.
"If not at the top of our list it will be very near the top.
"Absolutely it's going to be a real drive for everyone and will be a big thing from the CEO's point of view and mine as well."
Creative Waikato replaces Arts Waikato, which closed its doors last month after Trust Waikato, its core funder, decided to redirect its funding into the new regional arts trust.
Trust Waikato chief executive Bev Gatenby said the decision to establish the new arts body came after an involved process and discussions with Hamilton City Council – major funder of Creative Hamilton. Dr Gatenby said Arts Waikato and Creative Hamilton had "some significant strengths" but were probably under-resourced.
"There was an awareness that there was a need for greater support of the arts sector," she said.
Dr Gatenby said increasing funding for the region's arts involved advocacy to national funders as well as building family and corporate patronage of the arts.
"A larger scale issue, first of all, is having wider recognition that this region actually has a very strong arts sector and has some things worthy of national support," Dr Gatenby said.
"That will be part of the new trust, getting greater recognition within the region and outside the region."
The pending appointment of the trust's new chief executive has stirred debate online.
An Arts Waikato staff member said they were disappointed to learn Arts Waikato's former chief executive, Andy Gowland-Douglas, was not appointed to head the new arts trust.
"The region and arts community are not only losing someone of great skill and vision," the staff member said, "It also involves the complete loss of 11 years of Art Waikato's hard work and history, as only she could ensure continuity and transfer of this knowledge."
The Waikato Times was unable to contact Mrs Gowland-Douglas for comment but Dr Gatenby said the Arts Waikato board had passed on "significant information" to Creative Waikato's board.
Arts Waikato chairman David Waine said Creative Waikato would build on the work of Arts Waikato and, with increased resourcing, would strengthen the arts sector in Hamilton and the region.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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