Arts and social change centre gets major boost

A University of Auckland research hub focused on the role of the arts in solving big social issues has just secured its future thanks to generous support from the Chartwell Trust.

From left: the Chartwell Trust's Karen Gardiner, CAST director Professor Peter O’Connor, Rob Gardiner, Sue Gardiner and CAST manager Amanda Wallace.

The Centre for Arts and Social Transformation (CAST) at Waipapa Taumata Rau, the University of Auckland has secured its existence for a further five years, thanks to a substantial pledge from the Chartwell Trust.

This follows a similar donation in 2019, reaffirming the trust's status as the centre’s principal and founding donor.

Devoted to creating a more socially just world through the arts, CAST projects include looking how an arts-based approach can tackle issues like homelessness, post-disaster responses, disengagement from schooling and mental health and wellbeing.

It is also focused on helping Asian survivors of sexual violence, promoting global citizenship and addressing the lack of creativity in schools.

Exploring the power of the imagination in classroom teaching, and the value of slowing down and having time to wonder and ponder as an enriched way of learning, is a central theme in its research.

CAST director, Professor Peter O’Connor, is delighted with the trust’s ongoing commitment to the centre’s ambitious vision.

“Our partnership with the Chartwell Trust is based on a shared vision for wanting to understand the role and potential of the arts in everyday life.

“The generosity of the trust has enabled world-leading research already, and we look forward to continuing our relationship over coming years.”

Children at Balmoral School in Auckland having fun with some resources from 'Te Rito Toi', a project from the Centre for Arts and Social Transformation (CAST).

Chartwell Trust chair, Sue Gardiner, says the trust works to advocate for the importance of the visual arts and their increased understanding in the community.

“We’re proud to renew our funding commitment for a further five years of Te Rito Toi CAST, the Centre for Arts and Social Transformation, at Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland.

“Starting in 2024, Chartwell’s 50th year of dedicated support for the visual arts in Aotearoa New Zealand, this philanthropic programme of support enables vital, in-depth research into the impact of the arts for all.”

The centre is housed within the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University, and Faculty Dean, Professor Mark Barrow, called the initial gift “ground-breaking,” as it enabled CAST to establish itself in academia and the wider community.

“The faculty is humbled by the generosity of the gift and looks forward to further developing the mutually beneficial relationship between the trust and CAST.

“Such donations are rare in the field, and the faculty appreciates the trust’s ongoing commitment to the centre’s valuable work," he says.

The Chartwell Trust was set up in the early 1970s by Robert Gardiner, CNZM, then a Hamilton businessman and accountant, as a charitable trust to realise Chartwell's vision for wider access to, and deeper understanding of, creative visual thinking.

A new model for its time in New Zealand, the Chartwell Collection was established in 1974 as a privately managed public art collection and from the beginning, all acquisitions went immediately into public gallery care and use.

CAST is also partnered by the Sir John Kirwan Foundation, UNESCO NZ, Cognition Education Trust, the Age Foundation Charitable Trust, Chelmer Ltd and Youthtown, with whom it’s working on programmes that benefit young people at risk of disengaging from education.

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