A new direction for Tauranga arts

James Wilson wants to shine the light on locally created art and culture in his new role. Photo: John Borren.

Arts aficionado James Wilson has added another string to his bow by taking on a newly created role at Tauranga City Council.

James has been appointed manager of Arts and Culture, having served as manager of the Baycourt Community and Arts Centre since 2019.

One of his goals for the role is to tell the story about the Tauranga arts sector differently, and to show the value it adds to the community.

“I would love to get to a place where people from Tauranga feel proud of their arts and culture sector,” he says.

“There are many ways the arts create value for the city, whether it’s increasing community wellbeing, helping young people grow confidence in telling their story or events bringing people to the city which helps the hospitality sector.

“I think it's on us as a council and the sector to show why it's important that we have vibrant arts events happening in the city.”

Tauranga has a strong, loyal audience for traditional art forms like the NZ Symphony Orchestra or the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and James is eager to see how younger artists can connect to that.

“Opportunities for intergenerational exchange between our older population and our younger population could be really exciting.”

Baycourt welcomes more than 50,000 people a year, and James would love to convince more of that audience to see local work rather than just “the big flashy companies that come through on tour”.

“Shining a light on more locally created content would be really great,” he adds.

The new role provides cohesion for arts and culture at the council because there hasn’t been a dedicated division for them previously, says James.

Arts and culture has previously been split across different departments and looked after by community development.

James says his role provides the opportunity to elevate arts and culture projects within council and connect various different parts of the arts sector.

He is also the relationship manager for funding contracts with organisations such as Creative Bay of Plenty and The Incubator.

“The role is about trying to pull together the threads and hopefully have more of a collective focus where we can share some of the great things that are going on across the city with each other, as well as the wider public.”

“By creating a separate division in council, it will help create a profile and leverage with some of the new funding that’s coming out of central government through the Ministry of Culture and Heritage and Creative New Zealand.

“I'm really proud of our sector. I think there's some great work going on locally and I look forward to collaborating with our many artists, partners, venues and organisations.”


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