A new arts and creativity strategy has been officially adopted to help Whakatū Nelson realise its creative potential.

He Tātai Whetū, translating to a constellation of stars, is the Whakatū Nelson Arts and Creativity Strategy 2022-2032. The Strategy is Nelson City Council’s guiding document for nurturing creativity and celebrating the arts, and is full of collaborative initiatives that can help everyone experience the social, cultural, and economic benefits of art.  

Chair of the Arts Strategy working group and Deputy Mayor Judene Edgar says the strategy has wide support from the creative community and great potential to reinvigorate creativity in our city. 

“The creative sector has been hit hard by COVID-19, and our incredible community of creative artists needs more support to enable them to innovate and get us back to our rightful position as the arts powerhouse of New Zealand,” says Edgar. 

“He Tātai Whetū is now in place to support the arts in Whakatū, nurture artists, and provide sustained vision and direction for a collaborative creative economy. I’m really proud of the vision we’ve built alongside the community for this strategy. I think it will provide the drive and focus needed to ensure arts and creativity are at the heart of our city’s ambitions.” 

The Strategy contains five ‘key moves’ intended to revitalise the arts and creative sector. These are priority projects that will help deliver the goals of the Strategy. 

  • Arts relief package - A new relief package to respond to the impact of COVID-19 by supporting artists with paid employment opportunities and stimulating local spending. 
  • Development agency for the arts - An independent development agency for the arts to provide advocacy, investment attraction, networking, publicity, and capability development. 
  • Te Tauihutanga design and identity project - Greater recognition, resourcing, and visibility of Toi Māori in our city. 
  • Positive policies initiative - A review of Council policies and processes that act as a handbrake for the arts sector such as those relating to graffiti, noise, busking, signage, projection, and street closures. 
  • Creative tourism initiative - An initiative to shine a light on our arts and creativity nationally. 

The strategy also contains a list of 27 direct actions, with ideas ranging from integrating art into our city’s infrastructure to piloting a ‘pay-what-you-can’ ticketing system for arts events. 

Mayor Rachel Reese says the timing couldn’t be better for rejuvenating creative arts in Nelson.  

“Just this month we have the inaugural Clay Week offering a fascinating programme of workshops for professional artists and amateur creators, and we have the Nelson Arts Festival bringing world-class theatre, music and poetry performance to Nelson.  

“Our city will be feeling the incredible social, cultural and wellbeing benefits of having a thriving creative economy. He Tātai Whetū has set the stage for our Council, community and arts sectors to work together to invest in a stronger more vibrant creative economy that everyone can enjoy.”   

Multimedia creative and co-director of 18a project space Ann Braunsteiner says the newly adopted He Tātai Whetū has amazing potential.  

“It includes both short-term actions and long-term vision. The Strategy will ensure the wellbeing of our creative community for the future by creating sustainable and stimulating local art careers and an environment for everyone in our diverse communities to experience the arts.  

“Art has the power to change how we think, live, and communicate. The arts aren’t a ‘nice to have’; art is like an octopus that reaches into our lives and helps us connect, finding common human ground. 

“I can’t wait to see, and take part, in how He Tātai Whetū will emerge into being. Together for all of us.” 

Co-chair of the Arts Council Nelson Sophie Kelly says she is delighted He Tātai Whetū has been adopted by Council.  

“It's heartening to see such a strong commitment to elevate and celebrate the arts and events of this region.  

“The Strategy sets out some exciting key projects that will help rebuild and strengthen the local creative sector. For example, the arts relief package will provide a much-needed injection of funds to local artists and practitioners as well as helping to create opportunities for new projects and events at a crucial time for the sector after the incredibly difficult setbacks and impacts of the pandemic.  

“The Arts Council is grateful the Strategy recognises the arts are fundamental to a healthy community and play an integral role in contributing to our sense of wellbeing and connection and we are looking forward to seeing it implemented over the year ahead.” 

He Tātai Whetū Arts and Creativity Strategy is available online here