Bay of Plenty Garden and Art Festival

Just a few weeks ago, the Bay of Plenty Garden and Art Festival took over our region, with festival-goers exploring 80 marvellous gardens – from inner-city sanctuaries to tropical retreats.

Spanning from Katikati to Te Puke, there was also plenty of art to admire, with more than 100 local and national artists displaying their work.

The Bloom in the Bay festival hub also hosted workshops, creative demonstrations, live music, and art exhibitions for the community to enjoy.

As the festival runs every two years, organisers ensured the community could get a taste of the event and stay connected year-round, with a live talk show, Emerging Artist Competition, a garden mentoring scheme and more, held since July last year.

With over 20,000 people attending the weekend and events leading up to it, the Bay of Plenty Garden and Art Festival is clearly well-loved. But it takes a lot of work, and funding, to run such a large-scale event.

The festival is organised by the NZ Garden & Art Festival Trust – a charity formed in 2001 by a group who were passionate about gardens, art and promoting the beautiful Bay of Plenty in a philanthropic way.

With a mission to inspire a passion for gardening and art, Festival Director Marc Anderson says that was achieved this year.

“We had 80 gardens and art stops compared to 70 last year, with more gardens in different areas and in clusters. We also added things like sustainable gardens which were a little bit different, but they have a good story that is important to tell.

“We had over 40 new garden and art stops which most certainly inspired people. It’s nice to see gardens you saw two years ago because they all develop and change, but the new gardens provided lots of fresh and interesting ideas as well, which we know pleased our garden visitors.”

Marc says while the event provides a wonderful four days out for people to be inspired by the gardening and artistic talent of our region, it also provides some significant community benefits.

“There are so many positives that come out of the event. It brings our community together where we can all learn more about the benefits of caring for our environment, it provides a platform for emerging artists to develop their skills, and it encourages our community to be aware of the many elements of gardening and art that can have amazing effects on our well-being.

“Because of the scale of the festival and the amount of people involved, it also generates significant revenue and stimulates the local economy. This year, it looks like we had around 30% of people visiting the event from outside the region.

“The festival was responsible for putting a lot of money back into our community with so many spending locally, which is incredible – particularly after a year of uncertainty with Covid-19.”

Marc says the festival, which has been running since 2001, would not have been possible without TECT’s support over the years.

“TECT has supported the festival with $450,000 in funding since 2002, with $100,000 of that approved for this year’s event. We simply could not run the event without their support. TECT being on board is so valuable, not just because of the money which is huge, but because of the secured funding, we know we can programme the event effectively and be assured that what we say we would like to deliver, we can deliver. Also, The TECT team has really good advice which we are so happy to receive.”

“It’s really important for us to grow, and to get that $100k from TECT, it gave us confidence to say we have a really good chance of making this thing even better. We definitely did that this year.”

Countless hours are put into planning and organising the festival, with event planning for 2022 starting in February next year.


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