Creativity in the Bay by Marcus Hobson


Peter Biggs was in the Bay a few weeks ago to talk to a Hui on the arts. Dressed in a dapper suit and tie, he looked nothing like his nickname of “Biggsy”, which makes him sound like a Great Train Robber. His CV is a long list of overachievement; too long to dwell on, other than to say he is the current chair of the New Zealand Book Council, chief executive of marketing company Assignment Group, and chair of the Wellington Regional Development Agency. In fact the list of posts he holds is so long and varied that it is hard to keep track of what he is doing now or which activities were so last year.

Peter came to talk to a group from the local arts community at the Maungatapu Marae about turning Tauranga and the Western

Arts hui attendees from The Incubator

Bay into a thriving arts economy. He came armed with a series of examples, cities all over the world which have used the arts to develop themselves into thriving, vibrant places that people want to visit and live in. Apparently 80% of the world’s GDP comes from cities and Peter quoted from a report written by KPMG called “Magnet Cities” which showcases a number of examples. One feature of a magnet city is that each has ‘a distinctive narrative’, a story that is unique to itself. The city of Austin Texas has reinvented itself with a quirky artistic flair and now uses the slogan “Keep Austin Weird”. Bogota has become a cycling city where at weekends huge numbers of people turn out to enjoy the environment on their bicycles. Here in New Zealand, Peter gave the example of Featherston, which has created an identity for itself as a Booktown with a series of annual book related events.
Peter advocated creating an experience economy for Tauranga, with the audience firmly at the centre. Another catch phrase he used was “lighthouse identity”; having a feature that makes you stand out and grab peoples’ attention.

For all those present at the meeting, including representatives from The Incubator, Tourism Bay of Plenty, Creative Bay of Plenty, the Tauranga Society of Artists and your very own ARTbop, the message Peter gave loud and clear was that we should all be communicating with each other. Don’t be afraid to have a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) when it comes to our strategy for the arts. No winking in the dark, he said.

Peter Biggs in full flow at the arts strategy hui

Thanks to the Maungatapu Marae for hosting the Hui and Mr Biggs. We hope that in subsequent meetings with Tauranga City and Western Bay District Councils, Mr Biggs was able to push the case for the artistic development of the region.

Marcus Hobson is the ARTbop Contributions Editor. He is a writer and reviewer, as well as a passionate book collector. Many of his stories feature themes of art and artists and he is married to an aspiring painter. Marcus lives at the foot of the Kaimai Ranges near to Katikati.




Don’t miss this great opportunity to be part of a new creative arts & artisan fair


 ARTbop and The Black Sheep Bar & Grill have gotten together to create the ‘Affordable Art & Artisan Fair’ which will take place on the last Sunday of every month excluding December starting on the 26th November and run from 11am – 3pm.

This event will be open to local artists and artisans who produce high quality, original, handmade pieces. We are looking for a commitment to four fairs (Nov, Jan, Feb & March) at a cost of $40 ($10 per fair). The great news is there will be no commission.

The Black Sheep has a large outdoor area ideal for setting up trestle tables. Much of it is under cover. There is also a big area where marquees can be set up. Although the venue is large there will be a selection process if there isn’t room for everyone.

ARTbop will be conducting a widespread advertising campaign and this, along with the good food at Black Sheep and the wonderful ambience of the venue, are sure to make this fair a huge ongoing success. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of it. Email your details including your website to Birgitt at



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