Reimagining the New Zealand Festival of the Arts 2022

Dancers on stage at the NZ Festival for the Arts
Who we worked with


What we did together

5-day sprint

Key Skills

Problem Discovery, Ideation

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Wellington’s Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts 2022 releases first events – Stuff

Tāwhiri, the creative force behind the New Zealand Festival, Jazz Festival, Song Quest and Second Unit, were facing a difficult challenge as they started to prepare their next festival programme.

New Zealand Festival of the Arts producers, Tāwhiri, would usually be sourcing events for their 2022 programme 18 months in advance. However, COVID-19 has challenged them to rethink how they can deliver their next cutting-edge, contemporary arts’ festival to a diverse audience.

“We needed to be able to question our approach and develop it to some depth. We were impressed by Creative HQ’s methodology which has been honed and tested as a problem solving to ideation process. And, indeed, the process has been amazing not just in the solutions we came up with, which incidentally were wholeheartedly supported by our board, but in bringing our whole team along.”

Meg William, Executive Director Tāwhiri

How we did it

In consultation with the Tāwhiri team, we set out to run a design sprint focused on bringing the whole team along the journey from problem-solving to ideation.

The process created alignment and engagement amongst the audience, artists and the Tāwhiri team, by co-designing a solution together from start to end.

The core themes the team addressed were:

  • The opportunity COVID-19 has presented to develop greater depth in New Zealand-produced content alongside the international artists.
  • The accessibility of the festival – both from an audience and a festival-event perspective.
  • And creating on-going relationships between the audience and the contemporary arts’ sector.

The result

Tāwhiri now has practical experience with a number of design thinking tools and methods which they can adapt to their work. The sprint provided a structured approach which allowed them to focus on their outcomes and remain on-task. One of the tools that had the strongest impact for Tāwhiri was ‘10 Types of Innovation’ because it allowed them to work through a problem in a way that was unfamiliar to them.

“The sprint forced us to work outside of our normal processes and so we were not limited by our own way of doing things. It was also well structured so we were kept on task and focused on what we had set out to do.”

The team also enjoyed the co-design element of the Design Sprint. “Having everyone involved in designing the solution gives co-ownership from the inception which makes the implementation stickier because people have been engaged from the beginning” said Meg, and she added that it was great to be a passenger in the process rather than leading it.

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