21 Jun 2021

Pelenakeke Brown, Interim Artistic Director, to continue artistic journey

A tan-skinned woman with long dark hair in a ponytail, head cocked to the side, wearing a checked sleeveless shirt, looking at the camera.A tan-skinned woman with long dark hair in a ponytail, head cocked to the side, wearing a checked sleeveless shirt, looking at the camera.

Ka mua, ka muri

Looking back, to look forward. Pelenakeke Brown, Interim Artistic Director for Touch Compass over the past year, is leaving Touch Compass at the end of June. During her time here, Pelenakeke has made a genuine impact. Her spirit, energy and creative expression has enabled the organisation to develop and instill an evolved artistic vision and strategy, to delve deeper into the development of emerging and new artists and provide the space and opportunity for a multidisciplinary approach to performance works.

Ma te huruhuru ka rere te manu

Adorn the bird with feathers so it may fly. Touch Compass has taken a distinctive disability-led focus to art making, and a broader connection to Maori and Pasifika culture in creative expression. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, the inability during this time to engage in live performances for face to face audiences, and our response to it led by Pelenakeke, saw us artistically pivot to digital, visual media, and working in the virtual space to ensure disability-led art was still being made and supported and the pathway to creativity was kept open in a time where much was closed.

Through this shift in outlets, we have been able to expand our touchpoints across our own compass to broaden our artistic capability and those of our creative community. This momentum, initiated by Pelenakeke has given Touch Compass an open mandate to lift up and elevate emerging and current artists across the performing arts sphere and we aim to continue our exploration of this for our sector, our connections, creatives, collaborators and eager audiences.

Moving forward we have taken this past challenging year to reimagine the possible, and will be working closely with our talented and creative community to further shape the direction that Touch Compass will take artistically and as an organisation, taking these feathers and making us fly.

O le ala i le pule o le tautua
The road to leadership is through service. As Interim Artistic Director Pelenakeke leaves us at the end of this month to pursue individual national and international opportunities, and reflecting on the unique opportunity of leading the creative direction for a long established New Zealand arts organisation feels that “this mahi was an exciting opportunity to support new and emerging disabled artists and disability-led projects at home in Aotearoa.”

Taku toi kahurangi
Given a precious jewel. We are blessed that as Pelenakeke ventures out to seek new horizons we have been left a true taonga, an event conceived and envisioned by her that will mark a recognition of all that Touch Compass has been and signal the enhanced and evolving artistic future. With the event to be held in September 2021 you’ll hear more on this in the coming months as we shape and support te wairua o toi, the creative spirit that has been poured into this unique in-person and virtual event format.

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi engari he toa takitini
Success is not the work of one but the work of many. Touch Compass thanks Pelenakeke for her input and impact and all those who have supported helped bring to fruition the artistic vision over the past year. Pelenakeke would like to take this time to give a particular shoutout to her family especially her partner, sisters, parents and wider aiga and friends who have supported Pelenakeke and Touch Compass through volunteering at events, helping with our most recent move and showing up in all the ways that aiga do. As well as the wider arts community in Aotearoa who have welcomed her so openly into the arts, access and culture sector.

Kua hua te marama 
A cycle has been completed. There’s a phrase that says sometimes people are with you for a reason or with you for a season. In Pelenakeke, as our Interim AD for the past year, we have been lucky to have both. Appropriately, with Matariki soon upon us it’s a time for new growth, breathing anew, for exploring and recognising the opportunity within, and to encourage the next generation to spring forth. Broad and bright.

Thank you for what you have brought to Touch Compass, Pelenakeke!

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