Whanganui’s economic development agency, Whanganui & Partners, has appointed Emma Bugden to the role of Strategic Lead – Creative Industries & Arts.
Originally set to start 20 April, Bugden was brought on early to support local artists affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Bugden says the pressing needs of the sector drove her to request moving up the start date.
“The cancellation of events like Artists Open Studios and the Auckland Art Fair cutoff important revenue streams for local artists,” Bugden said. “It’s crucial for the sector that these artists are connected to other opportunities.”
“I’m reaching out to local artists and hoping to facilitate some opportunities at a local level, as well as making sure our artists are aware of, and able to access, support from the Central Government.”
Bugden has been working in the arts for two decades, as an artist, consultant, curator and advocate. She has worked as Senior Curator at the Dowse Art Museum, Director of Artspace and Managing Curator for SCAPE Public ART 2019 in Christchurch.
Bugden has lived in Whanganui for four years with her partner, Frank Stark, the outgoing Director of the Whanganui Regional Museum, and their daughter. She is already deeply involved in the local arts community and has been a member of the Public Art Steering Group for the Whanganui District Council, the Keynote Speaker for the CoLab glass conference in 2019 and co-founder of the Whanganui Small Publishers Group.
“Whanganui is a fantastic place to bring up a family as well as an active hub for creative activity in many forms,” Bugden said. “This place is home to internationally renowned artists and also boasts a rich grassroots community of makers, shakers and movers.”
Whanganui & Partners’ Chief Executive, Mark Ward, says Bugden’s local and national experience in the sector was a deciding factor inselecting her for the role.
“We had some very strong applicants from all over New Zealand and overseas, but Emma’s experience holding leadership roles and her strong relationships in the creative sector made her a particularly good fit. It’s exciting to have her on board and see our strong team at Whanganui & Partners getting stronger.”
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