About The Big Idea I Te Ariā Nui

About The Big Idea I Te Ariā Nui

Welcome to New Zealand’s home for creatives.  

The Big Idea is an online hub, providing daily news updates, the latest jobs and opportunities, events as well as ideas and inspiration from across the creative industries to help individuals and organisations create their own success. 

With over 50,000 members; 1.4 million page views, over 32,000 social media followers and 1.8 million email newsletters sent each year we are the largest, and the leading online resource for the arts in New Zealand.

The Big Idea has nurtured New Zealand’s creative community since 2001.

We have grown with the community and just like our sector – we are growing still.  Our Mentoring in the Arts program is one of our latest initiatives to support both leadership and emerging talent in every way we can.  

Our vibrant online channels include this website and membership portal; active Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and our regular e-newsletters.  

In reality, it is offline where much of the true value of The Big Idea can be found - in the jobs that are won, the events that are showcased, the imaginations grown, the ideas born, and the partnerships and connections that form through the opportunities we offer.  

We are grounded in collaboration, innovation and community and provide a place for passionate debate.

Spend some time looking through our site and you will see it is rich in content from contributors that generously share their hopes, opinions and their wisdom.

People can find tips, tools, talent, information and advice on how to grow their “big ideas” into viable careers, projects and businesses.

Our own “big idea” all those years ago was to provide a platform to promote knowledge sharing, networking and financial independence for professionals in the arts.

Arts and culture is a key ingredient, if not the key ingredient, in establishing a nation’s identity.  “I believe the arts and creativity are integral and inseparable parts of what it is to be human.” - Jacinda Ardern

This is a place where we are able to celebrate the depth and diversity of New Zealand’s arts and creative enterprises which we are able to showcase to the world.

Thousands of visits to The Big Idea from offshore can only help raise awareness of the strength of talent here, at home, in Aotearoa.

Waiho i te toipoto, kaua i te toiroa

Let us keep close together, not far apart

Annie Ackerman

Chief Executive, The Big Idea


Our Partners

All that we achieve as part of the arts infrastructure in New Zealand would simply not be possible without our partners.  We are proud to acknowledge their support, and applaud the work they do in helping thousands of New Zealanders gain access to the arts: Foundation North, Auckland Council, Creative New Zealand, Lion Foundation and Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi.

Our Trustees

Gus Sharp

Gus is a passionate Wellington-based arts and events professional, coming from a legal background. He works at WellingtonNZ and has headed up the Creative Capital Arts Trust, which delivers Cubadupa and the New Zealand Fringe Festival.  He believes that the arts are, and must be, a sustainable career for young people and that creativity is the lifeblood behind culture and business.

Kirsten Matthew 

Kirsten is an accomplished writer, editor, brand strategist and social media marketer, having worked for cornerstones of the international media landscape, such as the New York Post and New York Times and closer to home, Metro and Urbis. She is the founder of Mabel Maguire, an all-female boutique communications agency.

Huia O’Sullivan

Huia joins us in her first governance position. She has illustrated her passion for youth, mentoring and tikanga as the Executive Director for Ngā Rangatahi Toa, known for its social-justice-based education work and Creative Youth Development (CYD) work for young people.

Tina Symmans 

Tina is one of the country’s most sought-after directors. Her ‘make it happen’ approach to governance has been built through a wealth of experience on publicly listed and private company boards including Emirates Team New Zealand and ForsythBarr. She is currently the Chairman of America’s Cup Event Ltd.

Sam Snedden

Sam Snedden is an actor, director, producer and arts leader. He was part of the management team for the Basement Theatre from 2011-2017. Sam loves The Big Idea, he says, because “it draws together the threads of an industry that can feel very isolating for individual practitioners. It showcases opportunities and helps both practitioners and their audiences see the whole industry in a wider context than their own practice. It's a vital resource.” We think he’s great too!

Mike Denford 

Mike is a CPA with considerable business experience across a range of industries & countries.  Mike helps provide financial guidance, support and governance to ensure that TBI develops a robust and financially secure business model. He is also a mentor on The Big Idea mentoring program. 

Annie Ackerman

Annie has been leading The Big Idea since July 2016, and as CE has helped grow its relevance and reach. Annie has a reputation for creativity, driving change in the not-for-profit sector. During her three years as the inaugural CEO of the Spark Foundation, she launched the foundation and worked to establish the award-winning crowdfunding generosity platform, Givealittle as a household name.  

Our Team

There is no cast of thousands, but a tight and passionate team working in locations around the country. We are keen to support emerging and established creatives, businesses in the arts and our best and brightest contributors, writers and columnists.

We are always thrilled to hear from you and welcome any contributions.

Julia Barnes is our Business Development Manager and Head of Sales.  You can contact her on advertising@thebigidea.co.nz 


Our writing team is headed by Content Director Sam Ackerman who has a spent the past two decades in broadcasting, journalism and storytelling. The team is made up of writers across Aotearoa and the globe. Mark Amery has been a long time contributor and vital part of our team, now heading up the weekly Lowdown column. We have a host of contributing writers including Kate Powell, Dominic Hoey, Steff Green, Jessica Carr Thompson, Sam Grover and Nigel Malthus. Mercedes Ackerman is our graphic designer and social media lead.  

Where it all began  

The Big Idea grew out of a partnership, the Arts Work Project, which was established by Creative New Zealand in 1999 with Auckland City, Auckland New Ventures Inc, Artists Alliance and Work and Income.  

We were officially launched by the Prime Minister of New Zealand on 3 December 2001. The Big Idea Charitable Trust was formed in 2003 to manage the ongoing development of the initiative, build our portal and to launch a range of new initiatives to support the sector.  


"It's where I go when I want to know what's on, what's hot, what's not. I go there when I want to know what's happening in the arts; when I want advice or professional expertise." - Jackie Hay

"The Big Idea is a fantastic place to build a profile and advertise news, exhibitions and events. I have used the website many, many times over the years - it's always the first place I visit. I know the content is current and relevant." - Deanna Gracie

"When I was starting out it let me know that I could become part of this creative industry before I was already a part of it; helping break that Catch-22 that used to seem so hard for up and comers to get past." - Craig Parkes