Earlier this week (subs: Nov 25) Toitoi – Hawke’s Bay Arts & Events Centre won a national event industry venue award, in recognition of their clarity of vision, tangible objectives and plan for sustainability. It included their efforts adapting to Covid-19 and ensuring the Hastings community still experienced live arts and events over the past year.
Held virtually (as has become the norm), the annual Events Venues Association of New Zealand (EVANZ) Awards recognised seven award categories this year, EVANZ Board member James Wilson said.
Judging was undertaken by a panel of judges assembled from leading entertainment and events organisations and EVANZ Board members, with Toitoi named Ungerboeck Small Venue of the Year.
EVANZ Board Member James Wilson said “I’m thrilled to see Toitoi win this year’s EVANZ award for best small venue. Toitoi is a venue full of heart, with Aroha at the centre of everything they do. There is a hugely exciting change happening in our regional arts venues in NZ and Toitoi is at the forefront of that shift. It’s a shift that reflects the confidence, growth and voice of regional New Zealand.”
Toitoi only entered the Small Venue of the Year category. A small venue is defined as one which has fewer than 1000 seats, with Toitoi’s Opera House seating 979 under normal operating circumstances.
Toitoi was leading the country with its programming and outreach and its community-led approach. Wilson said “This approach has a direct and tangible impact on everyone who uses the venue. This is a way of operating that is far more pro-active, and relies on deep connections to the community in which you are located.”
Hastings District Council Arts & Culture Manager and Toitoi Kaiwhakahaere Megan Peacock-Coyle said it was an honour to win the award, which reflected the ongoing success and hard work of the whole Toitoi team.
“We have such an amazing, supportive and talented team who all bring their own strengths and passion to work every day. They’ve been tireless in their dedication and ability to constantly rethink and adapt as the national Covid-19 restrictions evolve. It’s awesome to see that mahi being recognised by our peers, as it has been a hard couple of years for our entire industry,” she said.
Other finalists in the Small Venue of the Year category included The Globe Theatre in Palmerston North and Haere-Roa in Christchurch.
Hastings District Council chief executive Nigel Bickle said Toitoi has had an incredible year, despite facing constant challenges. “It’s extremely gratifying to know that the heritage venue we have invested in, here in Hastings, isn’t just the best in Hawke’s Bay, but all of Aotearoa, for its size,” he said.
“Toitoi’s ongoing success at a national level reflects the skill and leadership of its staff. They are resilient and adaptable and always have manaaki for our community, their audiences and their clients at the heart of all they do,” Mr Bickle said.
“The Toitoi team’s passion for Hastings and seeing arts and culture thrive in our district is evident and we can’t wait to open the last part of the Toitoi puzzle, the Municipal Building next door, in 2022.”
EVANZ is the peak body representing the venue industry in New Zealand with a membership of 120 venues nationally. This includes theatres, event centres, outdoor stadia and convention centres. EVANZ aims to provide leadership and builds excellence for entertainment venues and their teams. EVANZ facilitates the collective sharing of information, enhancement of skills and development of best practice in the entertainment venues industry.