You received an AIMES Emerging Talent Award in 2018, what have you been up to since we saw you last?
It’s been a crazy two years to say the least! In short - I travelled around Europe for 2 months, have run over 30 events and projects with our youth creative community, left my day job to pursue my work with Youth Arts New Zealand full-time, met and performed for Mick Fleetwood and Bob Geldof, and have gone through a business mentoring programme. It’s been a rollercoaster, but I’ve had a lot of fun and can’t wait to see what the next 2 years might bring!
Your award came with grant funding – how did this help you in your endeavours?
The grant funding helped hugely with my living expenses as I started up YANZ, and allowed me to cover initial investments like legal fees, event costs and other start-up costs. It gave me the freedom to start up YANZ without having to worry too much about how and where to ﬁnd the funding in the short-term, which was incredibly valuable for me - having founded YANZ at 18, funding was diﬃcult to attain!
This year has been a trying time for us all - what did your lockdown bubble look like, and are there any lifestyle changes made during lockdown that you are going to continue with?
My lockdown bubble was my immediate family, which was definitely testing at times, but it was nice to spend more time together! Through lockdown, I realised that I’m actually a lot more productive at night, so I now structure my days (where possible) to include more admin-heavy work in the evenings. It also reinforced just how important it is for me to take breaks and listen to my body, rather than constantly pushing myself until I burn out over and over again. It’s something I’m getting much better at!
At YANZ, we used the lockdown to look inwards and delve into our purpose and strategy, since we didn’t have the ‘distraction’ of physical events. We crowdfunded $5k to support our mahi, recruited a Board of Trustees, developed our strategic plan for the next 3 years, created our new brand and built our new website. My goal was to come out of lockdown with much stronger foundations than we did entering it, and I’m incredibly grateful to our team and supporters for helping us achieve that.
You are the CEO of YANZ – can you tell us a bit more about this organisation?
Youth Arts New Zealand is a creative social enterprise that connects, showcases and develops the next generation of creative New Zealanders. We’re building a creative launchpad for our rangatahi through a variety of initiatives, including paid work opportunities, internships, educational content and community events.
Here is an interview I did with Jesse Mulligan on Radio New Zealand in May of this year -
What is the future for YANZ?
We’re going through an exciting phase of establishment at the moment, and have some great initiatives in the pipeline to generate more impact for our young creatives - awards, internships and educational opportunities are just a few. The core goal at the moment is focussing on becoming a sustainable entity, in all senses of the word, so that we can continue to grow and expand our mahi from a place of security.
Do you have any exciting personal plans on the horizon?
I’m hoping to release my debut instrumental album early/mid-2021 which has been a long time coming - a minimal blend of solo piano, strings, synths, vocals and percussion. The pieces have all been half-written, I just need to dedicate some time to arranging them properly so I can record them!
I’ve also just bought a Taylor mini guitar, so I’m hoping to dedicate a bit more time to pursuing this. The piano has been my primary instrument since I was young, so picking up another instrument has been a fun new challenge.
When we get back to traveling again, where in the world would you like to go to?
It’s been my dream to live in Iceland for a brief period, writing music and taking some time out of my busy day-to-day life. I feel very lucky to have spent 10 days there last year as part of my trip around Europe, and would love to go back. I’m fascinated by Scandinavian culture and scenery, so countries like Norway, Denmark and Sweden are also on the list.
One of the latest articles on The Spinoff with Sam Brooks - (click on the image to view)
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