Arts and Creativity Strategy

The Arts and Creativity Strategy for Whakatū Nelson was an ambitious undertaking to stimulate the arts sector recovery from Covid-19 and put the arts back in focus for a region that had traditional strengths in this space. OD&Co led the engagement and development of the strategy, with an emphasis on reframing the city’s arts narrative through a bi-cultural lens.

Te Kiritaki

Nelson City Council

Tirohanga Whānui o te Tukanga

  • Hoahoa me te tautuhi
  • Whakahaere
  • Hoahoa rautaki
  • Whakahaere huihuinga
  • Whakatairanga
  • Whakawhitinga kōrero me te tāhū
  • Tūhononga kiripānga
  • Tūhononga ā-hapori


Nelson City Council wanted to produce an arts strategy that stretched beyond usual Council documents and was a truly inclusive and bi-cultural community strategy which spoke to the collective aspirations of the city. 

The goal was to bring the arts and creativity back into focus for the city, building the case for change and ensuring stakeholders and the wider community were involved from the outset and had ownership over the work.

We didn’t have much time (CreativeNZ deadline) and the response to the arts sector in the midst of Covid-19 was urgent and pressing.

We needed a conversation that did more than “attract the usual suspects” and engaged as wide of a cross-section of the community as possible.


We led the stakeholder engagement with Council and mana whenua to ensure the strategy was led out and framed in a way that ensured it would be successful with key stakeholders. 

We design a programme of activation and engagement including things such as:

Walkshops rather than workshops at 7am on a Monday morning to connect with the community, wander the streets and imagine what might be possible.

Forming a ‘Creative Navigators’ group of key movers and shakers to guide the development of the strategy with an authentic voice of the community.

Establishing a ‘Strategy HQ’ at the local information centre to provide a drop-in space to reflect and have input on the strategy.

Meeting people “where they are” by providing tools for local cafes and bars to collect feedback such as coasters with questions on the back that people could write on as submissions to the strategy.

Creating a large scale moveable chalkboard in town for people to chalk up their ideas.

Supporting local young street artists to express themselves through graffiti and capture their thoughts and processes to feed into the strategy.

We worked extensively with mana whenua to ensure that the strategy had full integrity from a bi-cultural perspective. 

We activated support from the business and wider community strengthen the strategy and ensure it was truly community led rather than sector led. 


It became the first bi-cultural community and council strategy in Whakatū Nelson.

It was unanimously endorsed by the eight iwi of Te Tauihu and the full Council, from right across the political spectrum.

The strategy immediately attracted an unprecedented injection of investment into its implementation with $1.1M procured to support flagship initiatives from the strategy.

The strategy set the tone and direction for the arts and creativity in Whakatū Nelson, bringing them back into focus and ensuring the city has a game plan for revitalising the sector after a difficult few years.

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