Arts and sports are a huge part of what makes Waikato communities tick.

Now two important new regional plans for arts and sport – produced with the support of the Waikato Mayoral Forum – are setting out a long-term vision for the region in these two key areas.

“From the likes of the Chiefs to Saturday morning footie and Riff Raff to local community theatre, arts and sports are a core part of how we have fun and come together as people,” says Waikato Mayoral Forum chairman Allan Sanson, the mayor of Waikato District.

“It’s crucial that we provide as best we can for the way these activities operate in future in the Waikato region, and these two reports are further evidence of the value of taking a collaborative approach on doing just that.

“Besides providing for our people living in the Waikato region now, we also want to ensure that our arts and sports facilities help us succeed and grow as a region by making Waikato an even more attractive place to live, work and play.”

At a recent forum meeting, involving mayors and the regional council chair, the arts plan from Creative Waikato was received, while the sports plan from Sport Waikato was agreed in principle.

Mr Sanson said the plans “form a sound basis for discussing how councils and other organizations in the region will work together on how we provide facilities for arts and sports in the most efficient and cost effective manner”.

The Waikato Regional Sports Facilities Plan is a national first of its kind and involved key stakeholders such as councils, funders and Sport Waikato working together. Regional leaders at the recent forum meeting agreed to Sport Waikato’s request to look at matching $100,000 worth of annual Sport NZ funding over three years to help implement the plan. It will now be up to individual councils to consider what they will contribute.

Mr Sanson said he was personally strongly supportive of taking a collaborative approach to how sports facilities were provided.

Sport Waikato CEO Matthew Cooper said that while not everyone would necessarily agree with everything suggested in the plan it did provide a clear framework for discussion on the way forward. “It represents an agreement to collaborate, bring parties together, and to develop and deliver the facilities our communities need.”

Meanwhile, the Creative Waikato document is a 30-year creative infrastructure plan and the fruit of the first ever regional creative infrastructure review.

Creative Waikato CEO Sarah Nathan said there was a need to fill gaps in infrastructure, with initial suggestions for upgrades primarily centered in Hamilton. She said a high percentage of regional and sub-regional creative facilities were aged and required re-investment to protect against loss of creative activity in communities. “There is a need for coordinated, long-term regional and strategic planning for arts infrastructure in local government, as well as a need for reinvestment and refurbishment in 80 per cent of creative infrastructure over the next 10 years.”

Findings of the report indicated opportunities for a regionally unified approach to arts policy and vision setting, as well as developing strategic planning and funding models, particularly in the areas of Māori arts, visual arts and performing arts infrastructure.

Mr Sanson said the region had pulled together well to get funding for the Waikato Expressway and that “we actually need to be seen to be pulling together over getting central Government funding for the arts”.

There had been indications that providing central Government with a collective view would help open the funding tap from that source, he added.

“Just like with sports, I strongly favour taking a joined up approach by councils and other parties to developing our arts sector and securing great Government investment. The arts and sports plans will be taken into account in the development of the wider Waikato Spatial Plan being developed under the forum’s auspices.”

Summaries of the reports, which will be fully released once they have been discussed with local councils, are available at these links:

Creative Waikato - link)

Sport Waikato - link)

Also on the arts, Hamilton City Council has recently launched the Hamilton Arts Catalogue to showcase art in the city – visit link)

This media item was current at its release date. The facts or figures it contains may have changed since its original publication.

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