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WHO got that job? Creative Capital Arts Trust GM

From clowning around to being famous for making people famous. Meet the new CCAT GM Kate Louise Elliot.


Since graduating from Toi Whakaari drama school in the 90s, Kate Louise Elliot's creative career has taken her from Palmerston North to Mangere and Auckland to her most recent role back in Wellington as general manager for Creative Capital Arts Trust (CCAT).

But Kate simply describes her career as actor/director/singer/manager = Auntie.

We hear from Kate seven months into her role at CCAT, as the team gears up for the Fringe Festival and CubaDupa in Wellington.

Tell us a bit about your background and career: 

Actor/director/singer/manager = Auntie. Background/career: Toi grad '97, worked as actor until taking over as AD of Centrepoint Theatre in 2008-12, Performing Arts Manager Mangere Arts Centre 2012, Production Manager Arts, culture and events for Auckland Council 2013-2016. Started at CCAT in July 2016.

What’s a highlight of your resume/portfolio? 

Landing a gig as the clown at Cobb n Co Lower Hutt has been difficult to surpass – however, four years of all NZ programming at Centrepoint Theatre that increased audience numbers by 240% is up there.

Tell us about your new role General Manager, Creative Capital Arts Trust, CubaDupa and Fringe Festivals 

My role is to support the amazing people that work tirelessly to produce these incredible festivals in Wellington.

Tell us about CCAT - mission and vision 

The mission started with the objective of expanding and revitalising the Fringe Festival and reviving the Cuba Street Carnival. As the 7s have shown, even very successful entertainment events have to be reinvented or they wither away. As we have delivered on our initial mission we have developed a vision for the future and some values to guide us.

Our vision is to deliver brilliant arts festivals and events which are also very accessible. We want to get people who would not normally be on a stage, to get up on a stage. And we want people who don’t experience much performance or art to have that experience. Of course we hope that both performers and audience have a great time and a rewarding experience, but we really aspire to then go on from that.

At Fringe for instance we invest a lot in awards and help so that performers can go on to bigger and better things. We joke that we want Fringe to become famous for making people famous.

With CubaDupa the aspiration is the same but it is also about making Wellingtonians (and visitors) realise just how cool and talented our community is. It is building social capital and reducing barriers between communities.

Why did you want this role? What was a perfect fit? 

I was really keen to finally come back to Wellington. It really is the arts capital of the country and that’s more about the way Wellingtonians operate and collaborate. The role was a perfect progression having come from being taught by the best event producers in my job at Auckland CounciI. I started out in the Fringe Festival, it is one of the most important foundation blocks in NZ practitioners careers, and CubaDupa does that great thing of engaging everyone in high quality arts - it is art without pretension. It has to be the classiest street party in the country.

What did you need to adapt or learn? 

That I’m always adapting and learning.

What combination of people, partners and resources do you work with? 

A whole planet. This is the Fringe Festival and the CubaDupa Festival – we are all encompassing, on purpose.

What’s your short and long-term goals? 

To concentrate on the foundations. We can be really top heavy in our industry in NZ, for us to be able to support future generations when the world is a lot more accessible now, we have to put more focus on the business side of our show business. I’m talking about resourcing and teaching our smaller companies to be able to sustain their work, about putting more importance on the producers, the marketers, the future managers. 

What advice would you give to someone pursuing a similar creative career or pathway?

Get as much on the ground experience as you can, event management deserves practical experience to be able to creatively problem solve effectively!

What's your number one business tip for surviving and thriving in the creative industries? 

Look after each other, respect your peers, you never know who your next boss will be!

What are the challenges and opportunities in your sector? 

Always the challenge is the perception, therefore the importance of our role in the world. The fact the arts don’t directly save lives doesn’t mean lives don’t get saved by the arts. I could go on and on about this – we all could, lets agree we identify this – now what do we do about it?

What are you looking forward to about the Fringe and CubaDupa? 

Experiencing the excitement and the joy that will be on the artists and the audience faces. Nothing in the world for me matches that. When I hear the laughter and see the pride on people's faces, or know that people have thrown their dramas aside for this moment that they are experiencing something exciting alongside other people – it makes everything worth it. Sure it sounds soppy, but you asked!

What’s your big idea for 2017? 

Let’s take over. I have big ideas all the time, but I guess the one I’ve had consistently is that Art is going to prevail – storytelling will never die and I’ll never stop hearing a song in my head. We have the most magnificent collection of artists in Aotearoa. My big idea is that our foundation is strengthened, as a collective. We somehow get the business sorted so the art doesn’t get trapped.


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Written by

The Big Idea Editor

8 Feb 2017

The Big Idea Editor