Investing in the future

20 Sep 2022 by Steven Giannoulis

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When we were first approached to support Whitireia and Weltec’s creative festival at Te Auaha my initial reaction was “this sounds great but we’re too busy working on more important stuff.”

We are a locally-owned, creative agency operating in a sector which has been hit hard by the pandemic and its ensuing financial impacts. Our clients have all been hit to some extent and, as is typical in tough times, their marketing spend has been cut. We’ve had to work extra hard – and still are -  to keep our small business going, to protect our people, and to keep doing the best by our clients. 

Over the next few days, I found myself repeatedly going back to the festival idea. It slowly dawned on me just how short-sighted I was being. Supporting the creative industry to get through difficult times is actually one of the most important things our business needs to do. 

We got through what we hope has been the worst of COVID with the support of our creative community – staff, suppliers, partners, industries bodies, recruiters, and clients. As a result, our agency is starting to see the other side with business picking up again. Now we can, we have a responsibility to give back, helping others in our community get to the other side. 

I remember when the Te Auaha campus was launched in 2018 with great fanfare, including the Prime Minister fronting it. It was positioned as a place where Wellington’s creativity could thrive. The launch of the Te Auaha space spearheaded a groundswell to position Wellington as New Zealand’s creative capital. As a creative business operating in this city for over 25 years, we were all for it.

But the pandemic hit Whitireia and Weltec’s programmes hard – Te Auaha like all creative spaces – limiting the ability for people to physically come together to express themselves and for audiences to see, and appreciate, that expression. As a result, Te Auaha and Wellington’s creative culture has stagnated, patiently treading water. They need their creative community to get behind them. And that’s exactly why we agreed to be involved.

Like many businesses, our focus in recent years has been about survival. By necessity that leads to a short sighted view. But we’ve been in business for over 45 years by continually looking ahead and investing in the future. That’s what supporting ākonga (students) at Te Auaha is for us – an investment in the future talent that will become tomorrow’s employees, suppliers, creative partners, and clients. It’s also an investment in our city, ensuring it’s a place that supports and fosters the sort of creative output we want to keep producing for the next 45 years and beyond. 

E/MERGE, as we chose to call it, is the perfect way to celebrate Te Auaha ākonga and Wellington’s emerging creativity. It’s about the next generation of emerging talent and also the merging of nine different creative disciplines. Running from late September for nearly a month, audiences will experience dance, music, creative writing, film, stage production, creative technology, musical theatre, and more – often coming together in ways never seen before.

We’re hoping E/MERGE will stir a passion in current and future students to pursue a career in creativity, reenergise the creative sector, and get Wellingtonians back in the habit of regularly supporting a vibrant creative culture.

Like our own thinking, we wanted our support to benefit Te Auaha ākonga over both the short and long term. We created the E/MERGE name and brand identity as a long term asset they could use year upon year to celebrate emerging talent. We hope it becomes a brand like WOW – a name associated with creativity and imagination. In the short term, we also wanted to create an exciting launch campaign, with serious cut-through, to grab the attention of all our audiences. The hero of our 2022 campaign is BlobStar (she/her), a uniquely fluid character merging nine separate items, one for each of Te Auaha’s creative programmes.

Along with the personal passion of the team involved, as a business Insight Creative has put a lot of time into E/MERGE. We won’t be charging Whitireia and Weltec a cent for it. Despite that, fostering fresh talent, our creative industry and our city, makes this one of the best investments we’ve ever made.