Mary-Beth Acres will be leaving her role of The Arts Village director in mid-August - a role she has been in since 2015. There have been plenty of highlights and proud moments throughout the years that she shares in this Q&A with the Rotorua Weekender. She also shares some information about what is in the next chapter for her.
- How long have you been with The Arts Village for? Were you always in the director role?
I started as a volunteer in 2012 and basically never left. My first job with the village was as a part-time team member on the reception desk, where I eventually ended up as a full-time team member. I became acting manager in 2014, and have been general manager/director since 2015. My working background was in community development and corporate communication, and in some ways I ended up at The Arts Village by accident - but it has been an enormous part of my life, and many of my happiest memories, biggest lessons, and proudest moments have been here at the village.
- What's been some of the highlights over your years at The Arts Village?
Undoubtedly the people. I have met so many kind and wonderful members of our community who look out for each other and work alongside each other. In terms of specific projects; our internships programme, Colour the Night, taking part in the Of By For All pilot project, and successfully crowdfunding our outdoor stage. I also took an unpaid six- month sabbatical in 2017 in Aotearoa, Japan, and South Africa, researching connections between art and community wellbeing. The skills and deeper understanding of these connections that I gained through this self-funded adventure really developed and informed my leadership of the village.
- What are some of the biggest changes you've seen at The Arts Village over these years?
The amount of people using the space - we have almost doubled the amount of people using our space here since 2014, and it has been great to not change our community but grow it. The village is a humming home to many and I am excited to see it continue to be even more inclusive, representative, and diverse in the future.
- What is something you are most proud of in your work at The Arts Village?
Our team. The number of both paid staff and volunteers has grown alongside our active community and we have a team of talented, passionate and skilled people who work so hard to make some pretty cool stuff happen.
- What's coming up in the next chapter for you? How are you feeling about leaving your role at The Arts Village?
I am incredibly grateful for my time in leadership at the village, and am really excited to see who comes next for our team and community. The time felt right to move on for me from this role, and my husband Danny and I are moving down to Ōtautahi (Christchurch). I will be having a change in mahi moving out of the non-profit sector, and will also be working on my own arts practice. Over the last few years I have been growing my own arts practice (mostly watercolour focused on birds, critters, landscapes, and botanical uteruses). I also started teaching free online art classes during lockdown that I will start back up once we are settled in our new home, which focus on simple illustrations and art mediums for beginners. I share most of these online at www.artandsunshine.com
- What next for the village?
We are in the middle of a recruitment process for my role and it is an exciting time - we have had outstanding applications and I know the new director is going to be chosen with great care and purpose. Next year the village will be celebrating its 20th anniversary and it is lovely to reflect back on what has been achieved over the last 20 years, and I am excited to see where the next 20 and beyond take the village. I have been lucky to have been a small piece of the history of the many people behind this wonderful community organisation and I am so excited for everything that will come next.