Work has begun to turn the Bay of Plenty into a hub for arts and culture.
A group of arts sector locals who want to see the Bay become a magnet for creativity and innovation - in turn boosting tourism and the economy - have begun plotting a strategy to make it happen.
Last year city and district councils agreed to fund an arts and culture strategy for the region.
The group, including creative, business, education and iwi representatives, were working to engage with the sector to create a draft plan to guide all arts and culture events and initiatives in the region.
The process was being facilitated by Creative Bay of Plenty and Dawn Hutchesson, a national creative sector specialist.
It was focused on providing tangible, quality outcomes for the community.
The strategy would provide a framework and priorities for council partnerships with the creative sector and other funding partners in all arts and culture-related decisions.
Ms Hutchesson said arts and culture strategies which had a partnership approach were proven to strengthen local economies, build engaged communities and encourage innovation.
"Many cities have had great success with creative strategies from London to Brisbane to Auckland.
"For example Dunedin has seen great growth in its creative sector since the introduction of a similar strategy in 2015. Given the similar population and already growing arts and cultural sectors, the Bay of Plenty is ripe to make the most of a strategy such as this one."
The strategy would be focused on the short to medium term, around three years, and would help the two local councils prioritise arts projects to ensure logical, sustained growth within the sector and help create more vibrancy in the region.
"I'm here to guide the process, but the strategy itself is being entirely driven by the local community - from those within the creative sector and iwi groups initially and later the wider community as a whole," Ms Hutchesson said.
She said communication with the community would be a big part of how the strategy took shape.
"It's about your aspirations for arts and culture in your home. We're just driving the conversation between the sector, community and the two councils about the role and value of the arts in the Bay."
Residents would get to have their say on the strategy from May this year, before it went to councils for adoption in October/November. It was anticipated the strategy would become part of the 2018 long term plan for both city council and district council.