Creative activism on the move at Massey

Massey Expressive Arts students (from left) Raz Grigore,Virginia O’Connor, Maggie Tweedie  and Eden Cowley in a creative work about youth identity and social responsibility – issues that will be debated further at the first Create1World conference at Massey's Wellington campus on July 1.

Wellington secondary school students will have an opportunity to learn from creative activists from New Zealand and around the world at the first Create1World conference to be held at Massey University, Wellington on July 1.

While artists have a long history of drawing attention to social issues and activating change, the global creative activism movement brings diverse art forms together with a new urgency, connecting people to help find answers to major world problems.

Large-scale examples of creative activism include the official addition of a global arts and cultural programme at last year’s Paris Climate Change summit. While political leaders debated legal and economic climate change issues, stories of the human and environmental impacts were shared through 551 creative activism events in 54 countries – including a play staged at Massey University. 

The Create1World conference explores these and other creative activism examples, as well as sharing what Kiwi students have been working on in their own activism projects.

Year 9-13 students (and their teachers) can still register for the event, which will see some top-notch activists sharing their work and stories.

These include:

  • New Zealand-born actress Amber Sainsbury  who founded   Dramatic Need, a creative arts charity helping vulnerable children in Africa to build hope and self belief.  In 2015, Children’s Monologues featuring the children’s stories was directed by Danny Boyle, staged at The Royal Court Theatre, London and featured a cast including Nicole Kidman, Benedict Cumberbatch and James McAvoy. See
  • Massey graduate Lizzie Marvelly, is a musician and social activist, founder of Villainesse, a media website for young women  and  the #mybodymyterms campaign. 
  • Writers, Angie Farrow, Tina Makereti and Jo Randerson, and documentary filmmaker Costa Botes all lecture at Massey and use their creative work to promote change.

Conference organiser, Associate Professor Elspeth Tilley, from Massey’s School of English and Media Studies says people are increasingly making a living through creating artistic enterprises based around themes like social justice.

“Many young people care very deeply about justice, equity, sustainability, peace and other issues. Far from fitting the stereotype of a disengaged generation, today’s young New Zealanders actually care passionately about the future of the planet and have amazing creative ideas to contribute.”

The conference marks the conclusion of a national competition in which year 11-13 students addressed ideas of global citizenship with a song, creative writing or a media product covering topics such as the refugee crisis, war, global inequality and depression. The finalists will perform their pieces as part of the Create1 World event.

“It’s a chance for creative students to see what other students around New Zealand have been working on and exchange ideas, as well as learn from some of the world’s leading professional creative activists,” Dr Tilley says.

Participants in the conference will also have the opportunity to have a say about creativity’s role in education and politics in a report that the Create1World organisers will present to the leaders of political parties after the conference.

“Why use art?” asks Dr Tilley  “Because people are overloaded with media consumption and are tuning out, she says

“They have lost their empathy for human stories, and theatre and the arts stimulate an emotional response.  Change is not just about law and policy, although these are important, it’s also about reaching people’s hearts to trigger empathy, offer hope and build the impetus for positive action.”

Interested high school students and teachers should click on the Create1World link to register for the conference.






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