Sunday, 27 May 2012

Craft Aotearoa News

As the year gets busier for Craft Aotearoa, we thought we would take this opportunity to update you on what we are about and also our progress to date.

Our Vision
Craft Aotearoa is a new, national organisation that aims to create and promote opportunities for the public of New Zealand to have increased access to craft research, exhibitions, events, and education and training opportunities across a broad range of craft disciplines. We do this to foster the retention and development of craft skills and ensure knowledge and learning is transferred from one generation to the next. We are in the process of establishing a range of partnerships within craft and across the wider economy to deliver initiatives that will elevate and as importantly, celebrate New Zealand craft and engage the public of New Zealand.

'Fuse' by Elfie Spieweck. Toured through Australia 09/10.
The premise for establishing this organisation was captured three years earlier at a national craft symposium held 2nd May 2009 at Christchurch Art Gallery. It was acknowledged that although New Zealand craft practice was in a moment of ascendancy and demonstrating a developing maturity, greater market promotion, curatorial and audience development was needed to engage the public of New Zealand. There was a call for a more formal craft network to be established across New Zealand (reducing geographical segmentation) and that a Crafts Council or a national organisation focused on supporting both makers and their audiences (the public of New Zealand) be formed to foster a range of initiatives, in order to ensure the advancement of New Zealand craft practice and engagement of the wider public. The symposium also confirmed that craft was important to our national identity, history and the national economy (particularly tourism).

Founding Trustees also recognised the need to develop initiatives for the public to have greater access and opportunities to learn about and participate in craft and to practice craftsmanship. In response, they decided to set up a charitable trust.

Application to the Charities Commission
In 2011, Craft Aotearoa was accepted into Chapman Tripp’s pro bono programme and a charitable trust application was submitted in December to the Charities Commission. Our charitable trust status is currently pending. Our application was reviewed in May and we have been asked to supply further information, which is a fairly standard request. Our charitable objectives and activities can be found in our December blog. 

Our priorities June–December 2012
Craft Aotearoa presents 21st June
  • become a registered charity with the Charities Commission and arrange a gala launch of Craft Aotearoa in Wellington early September in partnership with the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts 
  • launch a national craft research project to develop a current profile of the New Zealand craft sector and better understand how the wider public currently engage in craft. Public consultation meetings to be held in Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland in partnership with craft organisations from 1st June – 31st July. The research will be published and made available to the public in due course.
  • establish a national craft research advisory group to inform and support the development of a report that contextualises the above research results and provides a platform for future projects and work with Statistics New Zealand to uncover craft data that can be included in this report.
  • support and present at craft events including Objectspace’s 7Up Talkfest celebrations on 21st June in Auckland and at Handmade 2012 on 2nd June in Wellington and other events as they arise.
  • continue to gather and publish craft sector news, interviews, events, and other relevant information beneficial to the wider public on Craft Aotearoa’s blog (
  • support the public of Christchurch to access opportunities to view craft and continue to provide information and support to displaced craft studio artists and organisations in Christchurch, following the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.
  • launch a national craft e-newsletter and facebook page that promotes opportunities for the public to engage in craft events, exhibitions, workshops, and other learning opportunities
  • secure start-up funding to support the above activities which are all voluntary at present.
Our Supporters
Our founding supporters are Chapman Tripp (legal advice and assistance), Board of Design (branding identity) and the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts (who are supporting the gala launch of Craft Aotearoa later in the year). Our blog has recently been listed in the Creative New Zealand online arts directory and with The Big Idea industry directory and has had over 3,430 views to date, the majority from New Zealand and a growing number from Russia, the UK, and America. Our facebook page was launched four days ago and has been supported with over 160 'likes' from a range of individual craft business owners and organisations. The majority of 'likers' are female (95%), from Auckland (closely followed by Christchurch), and are aged between 25-44 years. 

Founding Trustees

Jenna-Lea Philpott is an experienced arts and creative industries consultant who has held high profile public sector roles in New Zealand and the UK, specialising in economic development, arts management and workforce development. She has broad sector knowledge, working in partnership with many arts and craft organisations, creative business owners, industry groups, education providers, artists and central and local government agencies and has managed significant research projects including the The Craft Blueprint: a Workforce Development Plan for Craft in the UK launched at the House of Lords in 2009 and the Christchurch Creative Industries Strategy 2005 – 2007, the first regional plan of its kind in New Zealand.

Penny Eames: JP, MA (Applied) has been involved in setting up programmes in the arts and education for nearly thirty years. Currently she is Managing Director of PSE Consultancy, Managing Director of Arts Access International, Chair of Voice Arts Trust and a Trustee of Arts Participation New Zealand. Penny has extensive national and international experience, has been on the Arts Board of Creative New Zealand and has been an advisor to craft and arts organisations throughout New Zealand. Penny has worked on projects in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Hong Kong and Australia, particularly in the arts and justice sector and was the founder and Executive Director of Arts Access Aotearoa for nine years. Before that, she was a Programme Manager for the Arts Council of New Zealand, Director of New Zealand Workers Educational Association and a freelance writer.

Dr. Warren Feeney is the Director of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts, an art historian, arts commentator and the author of The Radical, the Reactionary and the Canterbury Society of Arts 1180 – 1996. From 1999 to 2010 he was the Director of the Centre of Contemporary Art and over the past 20 years has written for the Journal of New Zealand Art History, Art New Zealand, The New Zealand Journal of History and numerous catalogues and publications on New Zealand art. 

How to get involved, stay connected or find out more information
As a developing organisation, we welcome your ideas, support and opportunities to collaborate on projects. Help us reach those interested in learning about and engaging in New Zealand craft by:

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