BOP Creative Directory increases connections

Wynand Claassen has found the creative community in Tauranga warm and accepting. Photo: John Borren.

Since moving from South Africa to Tauranga a year ago, Wynand Claassen has found his home in the artistic community.

He owned a dance company and fitness studio in Pretoria and says the effort and support given to the creative community in Tauranga is not something he is used to.

The dance scene in South Africa is very competitive, so Tauranga’s collaborative community where people care a lot about the arts is refreshing, says Wynand.

“I'm really enjoying the vibe here.”

Wynand’s Tauranga studio, W Dance and Fitness is one of around 175 listings on the Creative Bay of Plenty’s Creative Directory.

The directory is an online resource for people looking for anyone or anything in the creative sector be it an artist, photographer, musician, fashion designer, cultural organisation or venue from Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty.

It is also focal point for creatives wanting to connect or collaborate.

Wynand saying being able to meet and work with others from artist fields through the directory will be very beneficial in future.

CBOP general manager Eric Holowacz says the directory originated from needing to externalise their internal database of the creative sector and promote its diversity and range of talent.

“This gives them a presence online and then we can refer anyone to it.”

He says the artists and organisations listed range from emerging and amateur to professional and established industry people.

Like Wynand’s business the directory launched just before lockdown, so everything was on hold for a couple of months, but since then it has gained traction with five to 10 new listings each week.

It’s is free to list on the directory and people are able to show what they do through photos and a short write up.

Chair of CBOP Suzanne McNicol says they encourage all Bay of Plenty artists, performers, makers, venues, cultural organisations, and creative people to get a free listing.

“It’ll help us grow this valuable online resource, which is also an ongoing representation of who we are as an expressive and diverse arts community.”

Eric says they get a number of calls a week from people wanting to find a creative or venue and they refer people to the directory, but if what they need isn’t there, it’s an indicator that CBOP needs to get more information for the public.

He says the directory will always be added to and the organisation is working on connecting with Maori, Pacific and other ethnic artists.

They also want to have more representation of film makers and people from that industry as well.

Another project that was born from the directory is the Creative Patapatai, which is more in-depth interviews with people that are listed.

The 20 questions probe into where the artist came from, who they value in their art form, their creative process and their favourite places in the Bay.

Eric says the interviews celebrate and reveal more about artists from the Bay of Plenty and it’s still evolving. They want to add more interviews and are looking at videos or podcasts as well.

CBOP’s purpose is to enable arts and culture to thrive in the Western Bay of Plenty through connecting, upkskilling, supporting and promoting those in the sector.

The creative directory can be found online at: www.creativebop.org.nz

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