He's best known for his roles on television as a funny guy, but Tainui Tukiwaho is serious about a long-term career in arts management.

Tukiwaho, who starred in the telemovie Billy as comedian Billy T James and plays Hugo on Step Dave, co-founded and helps to run west Auckland's Te Pou - the home of Maori theatre. Opened last year, Te Pou has grown quickly to become a venue for a number of productions as well as classes and festivals.

But Tukiwaho says he would never have had the confidence to sign the lease had it not been for the ART Venture business acceleration programme he's been doing.

"I was looking at ways to make it happen and one of the course facilitators said to me, 'what do you really want to do?'" he says. "It gave me the confidence to go ahead."


The year-long ART Venture programme focuses on developing existing and future leaders in New Zealand's creative arts sector. A place on the free course is valued at around $35,000 and provides arts, business, education and investment professionals with peer-to-peer support, specialist coaching and workshops. More than 60 people have completed the programme since it started in 2007, including Indian Ink founder/director Justin Lewis, choreographer Shona McCullagh, Q Theatre chief executive James Wilson, children's theatre-maker Tim Bray and Cut Collective's Ross Liew.

The programme is a joint venture between the Arts Regional Trust Te Taumata Toi-a-iwi and The Big Idea Te Aria Nui. ART has invested more than $4 million into Auckland's arts, culture and creative industries sector through a range of programmes since 2007. Now the call is out for others working in Auckland's creative sector to apply for the programme. Applications close at the end of February, with an information evening on Monday at Q Theatre. "It's been one of the most positive experiences I've had," says Tukiwaho.

"I'd urge anyone working in the creative industries to take a look at it. After all, how often is it that we get offered something that costs nothing and is so valuable?"

See artsregionaltrust.org.nz/art-venture