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Getting a start

Monday 24th February 2014

One of the aims of The Wireless is to provide a place for creative talent to develop.

We work with writers, photographers, video-makers and illustrators to tell stories from around New Zealand and about New Zealanders overseas.

I don’t know where we’d be without them.

Over the past few months we’ve thoughtful and insightful features from the likes of Di White, Jamie Tahana, Joe Nunweek, Stacey Knott, Sebastian Boyle, Hamish Parkinson and Henry Cooke have created some great written contributions. There’s also been great photos and illustrations from Toby Morris, Holly Worthington, John Lake and Luke McPake.

We’re always looking for people who can help us break new ground.

A couple weeks ago we organised a workshop for young arts critics where a dozen promising writers heard from Standing Room Only presenter Lynn Freeman, Music 101 senior producer Sam Wicks, Nine To Noon movie reviewer and FishHead editor Dan Slevin and New Zealand International Arts Festival executive director Sue Paterson. The main focus of the discussion was the role reviewing and criticism, and how they serve the public and artists.

Great reviewers and critics (AO Scott and David Denby are a couple of my picks) can see things in that most others don’t. They provide an informed opinion, rich in context and background, and point out how a production could be improved, as well as helping you figure out if you want to see a movie or play.

Reviewing is also some would-be writers first taste of getting published. That was the case for me, bashing out live music and album reviews for University of Auckland student magazine Craccum and the now defunct The Package gig guide. I might not have been paid, other than the perk of getting a gig or an album for free, but I they gave me a chance to play with words, understand tone and learn to string together 300 words in a way that made sense.

The Wireless is giving that same opportunity (with the bonus of getting paid) to the dozen who attended the workshop. Over the next few weeks you’ll be seeing reviews of theatre, dance and visual art exhibitions from the Arts Festival.

Experience helps to develop the informed opinions that are crucial to reviewing and you have start somewhere. With media budgets becoming ever smaller there’s less space and money available for arts reviewing and commentary, however, at The Wireless we want to make sure those opportunities are still there.   

I’ll also say a big thank you to New Zealand On Air, who enable us to pay our contributors for their great work.