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Drive by Oscars

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It's a Banner Day for Miramar, as Oscar Takes to the Streets Community Pride Flies High Over Miramar North School.

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It's a Banner Day for Miramar, as Oscar Takes to the Streets Community Pride Flies High Over Miramar North School.It's a Banner Day for Miramar, as Oscar Takes to the Streets Community Pride Flies High Over Miramar North School.WELLINGTON - The streets of Miramar, home to Wellington's thriving film industry, are now helping New Zealand's capital city celebrate the extraordinary success of The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. At the recent 2004 Academy Awards, the Peter Jackson-directed film walked away with eleven Oscar statuettes, many of which have made their way back to New Zealand as the film industry returns from its major Hollywood celebration.

Greeting the director, producers, sound engineers, and special effects wizards are eleven specially-made street banners, each designed by students at Miramar North School and each reflecting the work and talent behind the legendary golden figurines. Thanks to the inspired work of dozens of students at Miramar North, and a brilliant public art idea by the deputy principal and teachers, the Wellington suburb now boasts new Oscar-themed banners flying above the neighbourhood centre.

"We started with the idea of making one or two signs to congratulate our local film community", said Miramar North School principal Joyce Adam. The project quickly grew to comprise eleven new banner designs that would represent each of the eleven Academy Awards won by The Return of the King.

"The series of street banners are a great way for the school to share our pride in the incredible achievements of the local film community", remarked Adam.

The students, with a little support from Wellington City Council's arts programmes, have been hard at work painting and designing since the Oscars were announced in Hollywood.

"This project came from the grass roots, from the Miramar community, and from the creative minds and glowing pride of the students", said Council Arts Officer Eric Holowacz, who pledged to supply blank banners, paints, and other materials to get the project off the ground. "Everyone in New Zealand, and now everyone in the world knows about the magic that comes out of Miramar's film facilities, and the Oscar banners will help us celebrate that fact here at home".

Luckily Holowacz had been developing a public art project for the City, Drive by Art, which involves local schools and artists making the streetscape more creative. Thanks to that project's generous sponsors, Flagmakers and Resene's, the basic materials were on hand when Miramar North students came calling with their golden idea.

Because Flagmakers and Resene's, both Wellington-based companies, have made significant donations in support of Drive by Art, Holowacz was able to immediately provide supplies and guidance. "Instead of Drive by Art banners", he joked "Miramar North classes have created Drive by Oscars to fly proudly above their community".

Introduced along Oriental Parade in January, Drive by Art has been in development by Wellington City Council and its Community Arts Office since June 2003. The first installation, opposite the new Oriental Beach, features banners created by two dozen schools in the Wellington Region. The second phase of Drive by Art, featuring 50 original art banners designed by local and professional artists, will be installed in the Central Business District later this year.

"The arts give us so many opportunities for expressing ourselves to one another, and Wellington provides countless examples of this", said Holowacz, "whether it's a new theatre company's show at the Fringe Festival, a folk concert in Civic Square, a timeless cinematic classic made in our own backyard, or new paintings made by local students to honour our creative achievements".

School Principal Joyce Adam, whose school has a reputation innovation, commented that "These bright and artistic students found inspiration in Wellington's recent success at the Academy Awards. They responded in the classroom, developing a unique celebration that takes their pride right onto the streets of our community."

The eleven new Miramar North School banners are now on view, along Miramar Avenue and Park Road. They have been installed at the top section of utility poles and street lights in the suburb's village centre. Wellington City Council currently has over 175 vinyl banners sites, but the eleven in Miramar are the first in the Eastern Suburbs. After only a few days on the street, the banners are already generating more community art ideas.

"We have plans to build on this initiative and involve other groups and creative efforts", said Allan Probert of the Miramar Community Association. "Future banner projects will continue to enhance the Miramar area---to showcase not only the film industry, but the Miramar community past and present". His group is helping sponsor the Oscar tribute banners, and sees them as the beginning of many public art efforts, banner celebrations, and creative initiatives for his neighbourhood.

"In less than a fortnight, dozens of people and students have come together at Miramar North, to help celebrate who we are," remarked Holowacz. "This is what arts education and grass roots efforts are all about. And it's a wonderful illustration of a creative, innovative Wellington."

For information about Drive by Art, and the Oscar Banner Project, contact Eric Holowacz, Community Arts Co-ordinator at Wellington City Council, 385-1929 or arts@wcc.govt.nz

Written by

Eric Vaughn Holowacz

25 Mar 2004

Eric Vaughn Holowacz was born in Princeton, New Jersey and grew up in Columbia, South Carolina. He attended Irmo High School, and was a member of its National Championship academic Quiz Bowl Team in 1986.

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