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Jules Craft, Department of Arts Director 19.04.22

Jules shares with us how Department Of Arts was founded and the changes needed within the creative industry to build a brighter future.

"Change Is needed across all fields and It can be daunting when looking at required changes on the macro level, however, two positives I always come back to is a) change is inevitable and B) change happens from within. Allow me to make three quick points on what issues we see and how we try to change them from within."

The Department of Arts is a creative agency and we do festivals, well we “did” festivals. We started with parties which lead to gigs and eventually gigs built into festivals. On days when the current shit-storm of a situation burdens my brain I reflect on a time in a small Wellington flat where we once methodically draped multiple rolls of two dollar shop tinsel over a nylon string canopy. The vigour at which we undertook this pursuit was hard to comprehend for bystanders, however, within our small triangle having an extreme passion for setting the perfect party scene was of the utmost importance.

Ask yourself why would we try to build a creative agency away from our hometown’s in the middle of covid? The answer being - an interest in making other peoples night’s epic. We then discovered that not only were we talented in our respective fields of design, fabrication, and installation but together as a unit we could produce work that stuck in people's hearts. Better yet, as we became equipped with a proper workspace, tools, systems, and processes we found ourselves in a position to develop our own culture and “to win creative freedom for good people with great ideas.”

As makers of things and producers of experiences our work (as I am sure is the same for other creatives) crosses over multiple industries - Events, advertising, sponsorship, furniture, film/tv, products, and soon to be virtual meta-spaces??!!! Change Is needed across all fields and It can be daunting when looking at required changes on the macro level, however, two positives I always come back to is a) change is inevitable and B) change happens from within. Allow me to make three quick points on what issues we see and how we try to change them from within.

Burnout Culture - You know the old adage “do what you love and work everyday non-stop until you hate it and have had every ounce of your identity sucked out of your soul in exchange for the ever elusive dollar.” As a manager of a small creative team I am highly aware of the pitfalls of having creativity on a conveyor belt. The best ideas take time to develop. Rubbing the head of your golden goose (Designer) harder and harder in the hope that he releases more golden eggs isn’t the way we try to approach things. Effective time management to stop projects piling up, empowering our creatives to say NO, and having a policy of healthier people make better Department of Arts Team members has helped us navigate the stresses of starting a business in the creative industries we love. We encourage conversation on Hauroa (mental, physical, social and spiritual well-being) and we make time to look after ourselves first and then others.

Supporting Young People - Defend our rangatahi! A bad manager can have a real and lasting effect on young people’s self-esteem, their approach to working in a team, and how they will manage other people in the future. As I always say, too much tough love leaves you alone on Christmas Day. What we need is a high standard of work expectations matched with high amounts of empathy. I believe we should really value younger people - they have the best ideas, the most passion, and the most potential. We are all learning everyday and the best way to keep a beginner's mind is to be around a beginner's mind.

Reusability - We are all addicted to the shiny thing, the new concept, the never before seen. We want originality and we want it today, tomorrow, and the next day. The problem we regularly struggle with is that in making custom artworks/things/products it is unavoidable that you produce custom waste. The energy and cost in reusing materials, repurposing, or even storing past projects often does not hold its value for many clients. We see festivals like Splore taking the lead in sustainability and reusability and find it extremely inspiring. We ourselves are working on creating artworks that can be repurposed and reused for many other events. A lot of work to do here in general… (sorry I don’t have all the answers!).

Honestly for us the future looks bright. Fortune favours the bold and the bold live here at the Department of Arts. I see us being leaders in an event space that is screaming out for festivals that combine both experience and community. I see the possibility of building a creative collective with a strong moral compass, impactful work, caring culture and an ability to both laugh and cry when either is needed. I am grateful for what we have been able to achieve so far and my hope is that our work might one day spark a life changing epiphany for someone else. I see us being the change we want to see in our world.

Written by Jules Craft

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