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Newsmaker: Jo Romanes

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ARTS LOVER: Jo Romanes is proud of the first CreationFest. STEPHEN PARKER 230714sp2.JPG
ARTS LOVER: Jo Romanes is proud of the first CreationFest. STEPHEN PARKER 230714sp2.JPG

This week's Newsmaker is CreationFest event manager/executive producer and Blue Baths managing director Jo Romanes. The inaugural CreationFest wowed audiences last weekend.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a mother on the wrong side of 50 with four amazing kids now in their 20s, married to a rather gruff (but tolerant) character called Mike. And for the past 15 years it has often felt like my business, The Blue Baths, has been the fifth child - the one that can be a bit of a handful.

Tell us a bit about your role with CreationFest?

I was the event manager and executive producer of CreationFest 2014. This involved meeting regularly with the Rotorua Creative Art Trust, and working in collaboration with the Trustees to design the new event and then make it happen.

What motivated you to get involved?

I had been involved with the previous event (Wearable Creationz) so I was aware of how the event ran, its ethos and the positive effect it had on a vast number of people, particularly youth.

I was also aware of the time it takes to establish that passion and loyal following; creating a culture of ownership by a diverse group within the community is quite special and it seemed a terrible shame to see that slip away.

I was also very aware of how much work goes on behind the scenes, the financial risk and that there were a further 1000 reasons why I should zip my mouth and sit on my hands.

But after waiting a year and hoping that someone else would come forward and take it over, no one did and the compulsive urge to stick my beak in overwhelmed me.

What makes CreationFest such a special and unique event for the city?

I love that it showcases another side of Rotorua. I hope that schools will assist youth by incorporating their participation into the curriculum for 2015, so that they can create in class time, gaining credits in a variety of artistic genres - film, dance, wearable art, singing - and in our new section for next year, writing.

With the incredible coup of an endorsement by Sir Peter Jackson in the film section, there certainly is tangible value in kids participating. There are real opportunities for people to forge a career in the arts in New Zealand these days and while it may not be the easiest way to make a living, for those that have the passion, natural talent and are prepared to work very hard, it can be done.

What has been the highlight of the festival?

I am proud that we achieved the essence of what we set out to do - working with and inspiring kids, providing opportunity for other creative types in our community to showcase their work, producing a show that was innovative and at a professional and sophisticated level, providing an event that was entertaining for the audience - and something that the Trust's sponsors would see the value in continuing to support.

Tell us three things about yourself most people wouldn't know?

Before a career in hospitality I was a shepherd with eight dogs, a quad bike and a horse, feeling most at home in my gumboots on the steep hills of Taihape.

Although our core business is basically facilitating occasions for people to get together, I am personally one of world's worst mingling networkers and avoid this altogether if I possibly can.

A best-kept secret (up until now) is that when my house-proud husband is away, my enormous mountain dog Rodger comes inside, we take a couch each and watch CSI programmes together until the wee small hours.

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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