Too often work in the arts are perceived as glorified hobbies rather than a legitimate career pathway. This social stigma is exacerbated by the lack of adequate funding from government agencies. When Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that she was also the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, the new government gestured towards the value of the arts. We asked Virginia Frankovich (actor, director, and theatre-maker) and Borni Te Rongopai Tukiwaho (producer, director, lecturer, actor, singer, and community activist) what they hope to see as a result for the arts sector.
If Jacinda Ardern had a New Year’s Resolution for the arts in 2018, what should it be?
Virginia Frankovich: I got too excited so I wrote a list, because who has only one new year's resolution amiright?
- To hero culture and diversity over commercial imperatives within the arts
- To give the arts more funding—particularly for intersectional experimental feminist theatre!
- To create more opportunities and initiatives for female directors and female leadership within the arts sector
- Encourage the creation of new stories with a focus on te reo Māori
- To emphasise the importance and significance of the arts in all facets of life
- To keep calm and carry on
- To attend a theatre show once a week and do a live Instagram story about it
- To govern a country where a career in the arts is seen as a respected and viable pathway in the same way that other industries are
- To perform in The Plastic Orgasm at LOT23 on the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd of March
- To tell an artist every day that you love them and that you couldn’t live without them
Borni Te Rongopai Tukiwaho: I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions at the best of times let alone trying to figure out what one of the busiest women in this country should be thinking—especially in light of the ground-breaking news she recently shared!
As we all know Jacinda is a staunch a supporter of the arts and amongst her growing portfolio, I imagine we are able to breathe a little easier in regards to how the arts are viewed. Maybe because I live and breathe this world it befuddles me that there are people who don’t see the value of what we provide, do, and impart. We have varied approaches, disciplines and kaupapa that we adhere to, nurture and cultivate but ultimately, we all breathe the same rhythm. The difficulty of the past few years and not being validated by those who hold the financial purse strings—fighting to be seen as legitimate entities and battling to have a strong voice/platform—is that it can cause a fractious state of being. We drift and our collective breath becomes ragged. In short, our strength of unity is questioned.
So, if 2018 were to bring anything, the strength of unity and allowance of collective voices to be heard would look great. It’s already begun! Equity NZ is fighting strong, Asians Supporting Rangatiratanga are insanely cool, we have wellbeing initiatives that are seeing producers and venues collaborate across Auckland to understand how to look after each other and their people, so its there. But with this break in the ether, solid unification looks to be a little more achievable.
What do you hope to pull off in 2018?
- To create more interdisciplinary work—with a particular focus on film
- To join or create a community garden
- To encourage and peer pressure all friends to start riding bicycles instead of using cars
- To find a way to perform with a live snake with Julia and Nisha (even though NZ laws will not allow it)
- To learn more te reo and incorporate it in everyday life
Borni: Biggest aim is to figure out this anomaly we call work-life balance. I’ve heard it can be quite beneficial and fun having a life outside work! 2017 was an incredible year of growth and this year it looks to be heading forward with a similar momentum. A lot of cool collaboration on the horizon with a few exciting internal changes too! I’ll be chipping away at my masters, still brokering between the wellbeing/community and arts landscapes with festivals and of course bouncing in and out with my Te Pou whānau.
But what I really hope to pull off is to start existing as an individual, allow time for new experiences, time with people who matter and not just work 24/7. I’m going to focus on my own artistic endeavours and god forbid maybe even have fun. It’s not very newsworthy but damn I’m excited.
Virginia Frankovich performs The Plastic Orgasm at LOT23 from 1–3 March as part of Auckland Fringe Festival 2018.
Borni Te Rongopai Tukiwaho co-directs Hobson Street Theatre Company’s The Race at the Herald Theatre from 28 February–3 March as part of Auckland Fringe Festival 2018.
Check out these shows and more at aucklandfringe.co.nz