We grant funds to support creative projects and organisations that aim to foster access to, engagement with and experience in the arts.

Our Community Stories give an insight into our own grant-making decisions.  These stories show the people from our community that benefit from funding.  

If you have a great story to tell or want to know more contact our communications coordinator


Central to the Soul Documentary

The ‘Central to The Soul’ documentary is a snapshot of Central Otago today through the eyes of touring artists and residents. Filmed through 2018, it offers a gentle excursion into the heart of a region that has become known for social, economic and environmental change.

The 60-minute film explores the resilient communities of Central Otago, as they gather to enjoy Arts on Tour performances at various venues throughout the Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes district. It depicts our cultural heritage and showcases the present cultural health and wellbeing of our communities in rural New Zealand.

The documentary premiered at the 2019 Doc Edge Film Festival, and is now available for screenings within the district.


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Festival of Colour 2019

The Festival of Colour, a seven-day world-class festival of arts, ideas and education. It is about bringing our community together to experience arts and cultural activities, as well as educational programmes not easily available to the Central Lakes region.

As well as ticketed shows, the trust ensures it reaches the wider community with a broad range of free public events, and by producing at least one community production and delivering a schools programme for all the primary and high schools in our region.


Light Festival 2019

LUMA is an award-winning arts and culture festival based in Queenstown.

For four-days each Queen’s birthday weekend, LUMA uses Queenstown’s unique alpine canvas, as a giant amphitheatre for local, national and international talent to paint with light.

Since 2015, the event has grown exponentially in popularity, with an estimated 55-60,000 mainly local people attending, offering a wide appeal across all ages and demographic.

This free family-friendly event celebrates art, our environment and our community, covering all areas of the arts including performance, dance, sculpture and design. This year’s event had a strong interactive theme throughout. The event runs a local school’s programme where artists work with students, the results showcased at the event. There was also more engagement with the local community through the activities on offer at the light show. LUMA also supports an increasing number of local amateur artists and community groups to showcase their work, linking them to international talent.


Arts on Tour

Bringing up-and-coming artists to the rural community

Arts On Tour plays at 60 venues around the country, from 40- 400 seat theatres. This year 40 artists applied for just 10 performance spots. “There is so much talent in New Zealand,” states Steve Thomas, who for 35 years, has been ensuring performing artists are seen in the regions.

The tour focuses its programme on rural and remote communities, providing opportunities for these communities to access quality performances. Up-and-coming touring artists tour New Zealand visiting towns including Roxburgh, Alexandra, Wanaka, Queenstown, Tarras, Bannockburn, Cromwell and Lake Hawea.

An AOTNZ performer says, “I used to turn up in towns thinking I was the most important thing happening that night. I came to realise I was just a focal point for something much more important – the chance for a community to gather.”

Ticket sales provide about 40% of revenue, the remainder is supported by Creative NZ, charitable and community trusts.

A documentary of this year’s tour of Central Lakes towns is being filmed


Central Otago Regional Choir

"May I, on behalf of the Central Otago Regional Choir, offer you and the Trust our most grateful appreciation for your recent Grant payment under our current Guarantee Against Loss.

The financial reassurance which your Grants have provided the Choir over many years has been a very significant factor in its on-going public performance programme."

- Gavin D M Jack, Treasurer, Central Otago Regional Choir Inc


LUMA Light Festival

Free family friendly festival attracts 35,000 locals

LUMA is an award-winning arts and culture festival based in Queenstown. Transforming Queenstown’s famous Botanic Gardens and lakefront into a dazzling display of glowing art, it uses Queenstown’s unique alpine canvas, as a giant amphitheater for local, national and international talent to paint with light.

This free, family friendly event illuminated with art and sculpture, attracts a large number of visitors; and appeals to a wide-ranging audience; 35,000 locals from throughout our region, and a total of 40,000 – 50,000 visitors. Up until last year the event was entirely volunteer based.

The festival aims to educate our community in the arts and encourage awareness of the physical and cultural heritage of the region. The festival this year offered a dedicated school’s area for primary school exhibitions, and a spot with the main artists for the high school to create an installation. With a dedicated Schools Programme Coordinator and the opportunity to showcase work on such a high profile stage, LUMA provides a fantastic opportunity for students to gain confidence in the arts, and a pathway into the Arts and Culture sector.

"Many thanks indeed. That is the best news we have had in quite some time - amazing - just amazing.

Thank you for showing us this level of faith in what we are doing - it means a lot to us."

- Duncan Forsyth, Chair, LUMA Light Festival Trust