23 Apr 2021
Hayley Dingwall has been appointed as Creative New Zealand’s Arts Practice Director - Music & Opera. Hayley sat down to share a little bit about herself and her goals for the role.
When did you know you wanted to work in the arts?
“I realised I was interested in pursuing a career in the arts in my last year of high school but found myself working in music before I really realised it a couple of years later by virtue of my partner being a musician. As I got more interested, we ended up working on a lot of music projects together and started a label. When that relationship ended, I realised how meaningful the work was and how much I missed it. It was at that point that I made a conscious decision to continue that pathway specifically and I started DJing, working for a local radio station and managing other artists.”
Who do you consider a mentor/role model in the arts?
“There have been a few, but one I’d like to mention is Shelagh Magadza – former Artistic Director of the New Zealand Festival and Wellington Jazz Festival whom I worked with on several festivals. Shelagh encouraged me to apply for the Music Producer role while I was pitching a show and that came at a critical time in my career when I was quietly considering my options. That in itself was significant for me because it’s so rare for managers and most behind-the-scenes folk to be adequately recognised for the value of what they bring to the arts.
Shelagh’s story of starting as the receptionist for the festival, returning as Artistic Director, and becoming a leader in the arts while also raising her son is quite extraordinary. There are many things, particularly around her inclusive programming style, that have been impactful for me. I have to say however that it was Shelagh’s gentle yet strong empathy-based leadership style that she demonstrated, even amidst the thrills of producing a festival, that was a game changer for me. This was incredibly liberating for me to experience after working in a male dominated industry for over a decade that also favoured and actually commanded a masculine style of operating which did not reflect me and was uncomfortable to inhabit.”
What do you hope to achieve in your role?
“Our artists are our cultural ambassadors – their mahi reflects Aotearoa and who we are as New Zealanders. Through my work here I hope to empower our musicians and music organisations in this very important role, while also remaining responsive to the current environment to support the sector to navigate these changing tides, encourage innovative thinking around sustainable careers and support a safe and inclusive sector.”
What’s a recent arts experience that’s inspired you?
“Probably not the answer you were expecting but I firstly want to tautoko the resilience and adaptability of the music sector in response to fluctuating pandemic environments. Music and the performing arts have been hit hard and fast and while the future of live performance remains uncertain at present, it has been amazing to see our artists step into the headline positions and big stages and deliver world-class performances while our borders have been closed. I think it has been an exceptional opportunity for the local sector and for local audiences to connect with our artists and our culture.
One recent performance that stands out for me is Avantdale Bowling Club at the Wellington Opera House as part of the 2020 Wellington Jazz Festival. That was an incredibly powerful performance and it’s awesome to see Tom Scott and his band using their artistic platform as a vehicle for social commentary and change, and also for bringing a distinctive New Zealand perspective to modern jazz.”
If you could be a colour, which colour would you be?
“If I can only be one, I think I would be blue. As the colour associated with sea and sky, it holds such significance to someone who grew up on this small island nation in the Pacific – the ocean that covers half the globe and actually colours our world blue. It therefore not only represents my place in this world but in this galaxy! Blue is also probably the most complex colour with the biggest range of meanings and moods. I have heard that some cultures have hundreds of words for different shades of blue while some don’t have any word for it which is a pretty elegant example of how world view colours experience.”