Waikato Business News August/September 2023

Waikato Business News has for a quarter of a century been the voice of the region’s business community, a business community with a very real commitment to innovation and an ethos of cooperation.

Waikato Business News has for a quarter of a century been the voice of the region’s business community, a business community with a very real commitment to innovation and an ethos of cooperation.

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14 WAIKATO BUSINESS NEWS, AUGUST/SEPTEMBER <strong>2023</strong><br />

The <strong>Business</strong> of Art<br />


RAW brings art lovers to the artists in<br />

weekend long exhibition and studio trail<br />

Visitors from all over the <strong>Waikato</strong><br />

and beyond will be flocking to the<br />

annual Raglan Arts Weekend this<br />

Labour Weekend.<br />

Richard Page<br />

What started as a<br />

group of artists<br />

running a local<br />

group exhibition, has since<br />

grown to be a major event that<br />

not only profiles established<br />

and emerging local creatives<br />

but also delivers a boost to the<br />

local economy.<br />

In its 13th year, RAW has<br />

been managed by Nicky Brzeska<br />

since 2019, and with an<br />

extensive background in PR,<br />

she has added her flair for running<br />

large international campaigns<br />

to the mix.<br />

Launching a new device for<br />

a multinational tech company<br />

where the budget is of no consequence<br />

is a far cry from running<br />

a small-town art event on<br />

a tight purse string, but Nicky<br />

was up for the challenge.<br />

“My brief was to re-energise<br />

the arts weekend and to make<br />

sure we got more artists on<br />

board. The first thing I really<br />

wanted to do was to sort out<br />

the brand.”<br />

Creating a brand that would<br />

attract more artists, and art<br />

lovers who hopefully become<br />

art buyers, Nicky says, was<br />

a fundamental place to start<br />

for RAW.<br />

“If it feels like there's a<br />

brand and an identity, then<br />

people come to really love and<br />

support that. And then it creates<br />

an energy that other people<br />

want to be a part of.”<br />

Like many non-profit<br />

events, RAW has traditionally<br />

relied on advertising from local<br />

businesses and grants from<br />

charitable organisations but,<br />

Nicky says, an event like RAW<br />

that has been running for so<br />

long needs to look at how it can<br />

stand on its own two feet.<br />

“The team have always done<br />

phenomenally well getting the<br />

grants. But these grants are the<br />

same pots of money but with<br />

more people applying. And<br />

funders are saying they want<br />

to be seen to be supporting<br />

new initiatives.”<br />

So, after a successful<br />

rebrand and a 2019 Easter<br />

Weekend event, Nicky was<br />

looking forward to 2020 and<br />

working towards attracting<br />

larger sponsorships and establishing<br />

solid partnerships.<br />

The popular Preview Exhibition<br />

has always kicked off<br />

RAW three weeks before the<br />

event; it provides an opportunity<br />

to check out the artists’<br />

work before hitting the<br />

art studio trail around Raglan<br />

Whāingaroa.<br />

But 2020 delivered COVID<br />

and the Preview Exhibition<br />

managed an opening<br />

night before the government<br />

announced the cancellation<br />

of all indoor gatherings of<br />

more than 100 people, and<br />

a week later the country was<br />

in lockdown.<br />

“We postponed it until<br />

October and then the new<br />

alert level meant we had to<br />

push the Preview Exhibition<br />

online. Then we were gunning<br />

for April, and then had to delay<br />

April to October (2021). So, it<br />

was three delays,” she says.<br />

Nicky was essentially trying<br />

to run three events with the<br />

April 2020 funding.<br />

“We got COVID subsidies<br />

but it was difficult and we just<br />

had to get very creative with the<br />

money we had.”<br />

This year Nicky has been<br />

able to establish a partnership<br />

plan that also had to be delayed<br />

due to COVID.<br />

Local partnerships with<br />

longtime sponsors Tony Sly<br />

and art foundation the Chartwell<br />

Trust, and new supporters<br />

Rangitahi housing development<br />

and Bayleys Real Estate<br />

Raglan have kicked into action<br />

this year.<br />

“I looked at how could we<br />

make these partnerships all fit<br />

together, instead of them just<br />

being random sponsors with<br />

advertising in a brochure. It's<br />

paying attention to how these<br />

brands can engage authentically<br />

with us.”<br />

Nicky Brzeska<br />

The partnerships identify<br />

with a pillar – grow, connect,<br />

inspire, ignite – that represents<br />

how they can contribute to the<br />

growth of the arts weekend.<br />

“Grow is Rangitahi and<br />

they are supporting The Hatch,<br />

which is our emerging artists<br />

exhibition, as well as funding<br />

additional admin hours. Bayleys<br />

Real Estate is Connect<br />

and they’re funding an artists’<br />

bus tour and the opening night<br />

cocktail event. The Chartwell<br />

Trust is our Inspire partner,<br />

which is the next phase for<br />

us and it will be about bringing<br />

the arts weekend to life.<br />

Tony Sly is Ignite and that<br />

will be talks, workshops and<br />

demonstrations in the future,”<br />

she says.<br />

The partnerships are vital to<br />

the survival of the arts weekend<br />

and they significantly reduce<br />

the reliance on the ever-decreasing<br />

grants.<br />

“We’re trying to create a<br />

sustainable business model<br />

because it is getting tough out<br />

there to just keep trying to<br />

get grants.”<br />

Despite the COVID setback,<br />

Nicky is confident in the Raglan<br />

Arts Weekend’s ability to grow.<br />

They may be at full capacity<br />

with their artists but Nicky<br />

knows there are still lots of<br />

opportunities to pack a punch<br />

for the arts.<br />

“We have over 60 artists,<br />

and over 30 of those are new<br />

to RAW. We still have the same<br />

number of studios because we<br />

have several large group exhibitions,<br />

which means people<br />

have only one studio location to<br />

visit to see a number of artists’<br />

work. But we can't just have<br />

an infinite number of artists;<br />

If you've got too many artists,<br />

there's less visitors per artist.”<br />

A life drawing workshop,<br />

created and run by RAW artist<br />

Dominique Marriott, is a first<br />

this year for the arts weekend<br />

and, Nicky says, the new partnerships<br />

will support more<br />

public art activities.<br />

“We want people to know<br />

as soon as they arrive in<br />

town that something special<br />

is happening.”<br />

The flow on effect is significant,<br />

she says, more RAW<br />

visitors mean more business<br />

for the local cafes and restaurants,<br />

accommodation and<br />

tourism providers.<br />

“It’s just about growing this<br />

in a sustainable way, together<br />

with the growth of Raglan<br />

itself, and not overwhelming<br />

the town, which struggles<br />

already with issues like parking<br />

and space in cafes over<br />

busy weekends like this,” Nicky<br />

says. “Maybe in time, we might<br />

shift RAW to its own dedicated<br />

weekend to spread some<br />

of the retail opportunities for<br />

our local businesses across the<br />

year, but it’s too early in the<br />

event’s marketing to be able to<br />

make that decision now.”<br />

The Raglan Arts Weekend is a Creative Raglan event run by the<br />

Raglan Community Arts Council.<br />

Preview Exhibition at the Raglan Old School Arts Centre<br />

Friday 29 Sept to Monday 23 October <strong>2023</strong>, open daily, 10am to 2pm<br />

RAW Open studios self-guided art trail<br />

Saturday 21 October to Monday 23 October, 10am to 5pm<br />

Shortydubs<br />

Jane Galloway

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