Sole Project Whanau Lunch – Friday 19th July

Written by on July 16, 2013

Since 2010 Artstation Toi Tu & Nga Rangatahi Toa Creative Arts Initiative have collaborated to present The Sole Project, an award winning community cultural development arts-mentoring project. Top New Zealand artists are partnered with rangatahi excluded from mainstream education and over an intensive week of workshops each partnership creates a collaborative work, forming this exhibition. Check the full info below..

Artists include: Otis Frizzell, Rongotai Lomas, Cinzah Merkin, Josh Paki, Salome Tanuvasa, Shona Tawhiao, Grace Taylor, Darryl Thomson, Dan Tippett, Cora-Allen Wickliffe.


DT & DLT take some time-out from the project to show how to run tings @ the Base FM studio

The Sole Project Plugs the Gap for Those Who Fall Through the Cracks

During the first week of the July school holidays Nga Rangatahi Toa Creative Arts Initiative will again challenge ‘arts-for-arts-sake’ with The Sole Project, a powerful creative collaboration between top New Zealand artists and rangatahi from the alternative education classrooms of South Auckland. Over a week of what promises to be intensive one-to-one mentoring workshops, Artstation will play host to eight rangatahi & artist-mentor partnerships. Together exploring the identity and culture of the rangatahi, the collaborative art works produced during the week will be exhibited in the gallery space at Artstation, opening Tuesday 27th August.

‘The Sole Project is a truly transformational experience for our rangatahi’, says Sarah Longbottom, Creative Director of Nga Rangatahi Toa. ‘Many of our kids struggle to keep their head above water, but they flat out thrive with their mentors; artistically, socially and culturally. We prioritise cultural identity, and a processing of this identity, and provide an environment of love and respect. We have proved time and again that if you create a positive, responsive environment for these kids, they respond in kind’

Nga Rangatahi Toa programs were established in 2009, aimed at ‘plugging the gap’ that exists for students who have been excluded from the mainstream schooling system. Once placed in alternative education a student is not even assured access to a registered teacher, and there is no funding for creative arts. Statistics for rangatahi in alternative education show that the cohort is overwhelmingly Maori and Pasifika, and overwhelmingly from families in poverty.

‘These kids come from full on background, but they are leaders’, says artist-mentor Darryl Thomson, ‘Their sometimes anti-social behavior that lands them in trouble shows they are capable of planning, thinking, implementing and executing a project. It’s up to us, as mentors, to shape these skills to something positive.’

Many of the rangatahi involved in the project have had youth justice issues and are known to the police but all have been identified as having leadership qualities

‘These kids are our leaders, but what direction will they lead if we don’t give them a break, give them guidance?’ continues Thomson, a seasoned youth worker ‘The Sole Project identifies these as skills and attributes and we give them room to develop. It’s important to connect the kids to their own potential, to their cultural knowledge and to themselves. The Sole Project gives opportunity to kids who are ready for it, who take it and run with it!’

Statistics are not kind to their cohort however since implementing a stair-cased model aimed at sustainable transformational change, Nga Rangatahi Toa Creative Arts Initiative has ‘graduated’ students into tertiary study in visual arts, performing arts, animation, and makeup artistry. Those who have completed The Sole Project have also secured sought after internships at Shortland Street and George FM.

‘I reckon that my work in The Sole Project kinda changed my life.’ says graduate Bobby Ioramo. ‘It made me think about things, it made me feel like it’s ok to think about things. I knew I wanted something different to shape my life, to give me an opportunity I didn’t get given or I didn’t mow how to take. Now I am back at school and loving it.’

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