James Wilson has been appointed to a newly-created role at the Tauranga City Council (TCC) – Manager, Arts and Culture.

Tauranga City Council General Manager, Community Services, Gareth Wallis says, “With Tauranga’s growing and diversifying population, we have seen our arts and culture sector flourish. Additionally, through the COVID experience, people, planners and cities all over the world are recognising more than ever the important role that arts and culture has to play in creating connected, happy and sustainable communities.

“We felt it was time for the council to respond to the growth of our arts and culture sector, by supporting capacity and capability development for our many brilliant artists and performers. We recognise the value that the creative sector brings to our city, creating world class arts experiences for both our community and for visitors to Tauranga.

“Our growing arts and culture team brings a wealth of experience, industry knowledge and established relationships to the table, which we know will benefit all our communities,” Wallis says.

James trained as a theatre director in London, before working for a variety of arts organisations, including the Lyric Hammersmith, Tate Modern and The Orange Tree Theatre. He moved to Aotearoa in 2005.

Most recently the Manager of Baycourt Community and Arts Centre in Tauranga – since 2019 – for six years, James was the Chief Executive of Auckland’s Q Theatre. Under James’ leadership, Q Theatre was a four-time winner of the EVANZ (Entertainment Venues Association of New Zealand) award for Best Small Venue, taking out the award in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017. James won the EVANZ Venue Executive of the Year award and the Supreme Venue Person award in 2017. Prior to his work at Q Theatre, James was General Manager for Massive Theatre Company, creating and touring New Zealand stories around the country.

He has served on the Board of PANNZ (Performing Arts Network of New Zealand), for whom he was Chair for four years. He is currently an Executive Board member for EVANZ.

He says, “It’s a privilege to work for an organisation which values the impact and importance of arts and culture, particularly as we look to grow and connect our arts sector, build our artists and uplift their work, and contribute to the vibrancy and livability of our beautiful, creative city.

“I look forward to collaborating with our many artists, partners, venues and organisations across the city, including other new arts leaders such as Gabrielle Vincent, Artistic Director of Tauranga Arts Festival, and Stephen Cleland, the new Director at the Tauranga Art Gallery, as well as established and respected leaders such as Simone Anderson at The Incubator.”

As James leaves his role as the Manager of Baycourt Community and Arts Centre, the beloved Tauranga theatre and arts venue will also welcome new leadership. Reena Snook, former Event Development Manager at the TCC, will take the helm.

Since joining the council in 2018, Reena has been responsible for the portfolio of events funded by Tauranga City Council and played an integral role in the development of Tauranga’s world-class event evaluation framework which supports community events through to large-scale, major international events.

Prior to arriving in Tauranga, Reena enjoyed a long and successful career in the performing arts sector, working most recently as a senior producer at Auckland Live, New Zealand’s largest performing arts organisation.

She says, “Baycourt plays a hugely important role in the beating heart of both the city and the region’s arts sector. I’m looking forward to continuing the great work of James and the Baycourt whānau in welcoming all people of all ages to our iconic and inclusive venue.”

James has commenced his new role. Reena will start on 12 April.