The Auckland Pride board is pleased to announce Julia Croft as the new Executive Director of Auckland Pride. As Executive Director, Croft will be responsible for organising and fundraising for the annual Auckland Pride Festival and for leading organisational operations. Her appointment follows Max Tweedie’s resignation in January after leading the organisation as Executive Director over the last four years.

Julia Croft is a practising performance artist whose extensive arts career has given her experience producing, working with funding bodies, and an exceptional reputation for supporting the growth of young artists. Croft’s performance works have toured Aotearoa as well as Australia, the UK, Singapore and Canada. She has worked extensively as a dramaturge, director and teaching artist across New Zealand, Australia and the UK. Croft, alongside Nisha Madhan, notably co-produced and co-curated Aoteroa’s inaugural Festival of Live Art [F.O.L.A] as part of the 2023 Auckland Pride Festival. Croft said “with F.O.L.A, we succeeded in a utopian project. F.O.L.A stemmed from a desire to build networks that allowed us to support each other as a community and as artists on the outside of the established way of doing things.”

Kaan Hiini, co-chair of Auckland Pride, speaking on behalf of the board said “We were especially impressed by Julia’s vision for the future of Auckland Pride. The board are excited by her energy and what she’s bringing to the festival in terms of experience, fresh ideas, and ambition. Most importantly, Julia shares the values of Auckland Pride – a love for the communities we serve, and commitment to creating space for our Takatāpui and Rainbow communities to celebrate and advocate for their identities.”

Speaking to the legacy of the Executive Director role, Croft said “Max has done an incredible job. I want to honour what he’s set up and the work he has done over the past four years. Nathan Joe [continuing as Creative Director for Auckland Pride] is an incredible curator and Pride continues to showcase incredible creativity from an ever-increasing range of artists thanks to his influence, so a big part of my role is supporting his mahi.” 

This year, Auckland Pride was able to deliver $94,000 directly to artists and event organisers to support a range of events happening as part of the festival. Approximately 5,000 people attended the 2023 Auckland Pride March, which was dedicated to intersex rights, with intersex activists giving speeches and leading the march. Across all 186 events there were an estimated 55,000 attendees.

Looking to the future, Croft gave the statement, “We want the many Takatāpui and Rainbow communities in Tāmaki Makarau to thrive. My mission is connecting all the amazing queer artists and community leaders we have in this city to the resources they need to flourish. By sharing funding and expertise with up-and-comers, we can create spaces for the next generation of visionaries to find their footing and establish themselves, growing the range of perspectives and experiences that are part of Auckland Pride.”

“With Julia and Nathan in place, providing strong and assured leadership, Auckland Pride are looking forward to continuing work to develop opportunities for takatāpui across all levels of Auckland Pride, with a focus on nurturing and extending the leadership and focused programming demonstrated in Te Tīmatanga,” Hiini said. “We know there’s so much still to do to support the growth of our takatāpui communities, and have been encouraged by the success of Te Tīmatanga as led by the wonderful Hāmiora Bailey. We’re committed to extending the scope of this role in collaboration with Hāmiora and we are excited by the possibilities of shaping space for strong, stable and valued Māori leadership in Auckland Pride.”

Croft embraces this commitment and is looking forward to continuing to navigate Auckland Pride down a progressive and equitable path. “Auckland Pride has done an amazing job so far of representing larger sections of the community than it might have historically, and that work is never finished, it is ongoing. I’m really humbled to be trusted with continuing that work,” Croft concluded.

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