If the Te Ora Auaha website and communications have gone quiet over the past few months, that is probably in part because alliance members and others involved in arts, health and wellbeing have been so busy working on the ground. As highlighted in our last newsletter, individual artists and organisations have been working flat out adapting their work to the changing Covid-19 alert levels, while continuing to support the wellbeing and creativity of people all over Aotearoa. In some instances, this has led to unexpected new innovations and extensions of existing practice, such as Māpura Studios developing new accessible online art classes. Meanwhile, events like the Auckland Fringe and Polyfest have forged ahead, through the uncertainty of the 2021, taking careful steps to both serve their communities and support the wellbeing of their artists. Teachers, and many other practitioners across the country, have been using the fantastic resources of Te Rito Toi to put the arts at the forefront of their work with young people as they navigate the new normal of a global pandemic. In Christchurch, the arts played a part in processes of commemoration, contemplation and remembrance on the anniversaries of the 2011 earthquake and 2019 Mosque attack. The River of Flowers is an example of the Canterbury Community creating its own rituals for commemoration and healing.
The InCommon responds to the March 15 Mosque attacks by highlighting what people have in common, in spite of their apparent differences. Artworks, like Auckland Theatre Company’s The Haka Party Incident, Mad Ave’s Home Fires, and Barbarian Production’s Cook Thinks Again, meanwhile, have all demanded critical remembrance, involving the recognition of past injustices, so as to better understand the present and move towards a more just future. For better and worse, it’s been a busy time.
Meanwhile, Te Ora Auaha’s current steering group has been working away at trying to activate more aspects of the alliance’s strategic plan. If you are new to the alliance, you can see that plan, and more on the alliance’s history and steering group here. Briefly, the alliance was formed through sector-led hui in 2017, through which key areas of a strategic plan were developed. In 2018, a steering group finalised the strategic plan and set up the online hub. The alliance and website were launched by Minister Sepuloni in 2019. There are now over 165 groups and individuals signed up to the website and e-newsletters. But, there is lots more to do.
For a long while now, the alliance has kept going thanks to some administrative support contributed by the Centre for Arts and Social Transformation at the University of Auckland, and the time, energy and resources contributed by other steering group members. As well as running the website and producing newsletters, alliance members have led research on youth arts and well-being, undertaken advocacy through their networks, and shared evidence with policy makers and funders. We are now focused on expanding the alliance’s capacity, through fundraising, but also by working on how the alliance model can work effectively. We have news to report on both fronts. Funds have been raised for a new arts, health and wellbeing webinar series. And, the alliance model has come into its own in the development of an Aotearoa session for the International Culture, Health and Wellbeing Conference in June 2021, and a submission to the Mental Health and Wellbeing Long Term Pathway consultation.
We have been working with the wonderful team at Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi, to explore how Te Ora Auaha can work more sustainably, by activating and supporting regional and sector-specific partnerships and networks. Te Taumata have offered to take on a backbone support role for the network, providing administration and communications support going forward. We have strong connections through support for wellbeing outcomes and the value of the Ngā Toi Arts, culture and creative sectors. We will update you as this new partnership evolves.
Dr Molly Mullen & Te Ora Auaha Steering Group