Elevate: What Auckland Pride 2023's 'deeply aspirational' theme meant

  • 28/02/2023
Auckland Pride Festival 2023: Elevate.
Photo credit: Auckland Pride Festival

Auckland Pride Festival 2023 officially came to an end over the weekend, although the Big Gay Out is yet to take place.

This year the festival's theme was 'Elevate', which focused on supporting queer artists who were developing their practices in unique or exciting ways, as well as radically contributing to their communities or disciplines.

"Rather than focussing on a resilience mindset, we wanted to approach the festival with a lens of abundance. It's a catalysing prompt to get artists to level up, to give people permission to dream big," said Auckland Pride creative director Nathan Joe.

"I love works of ambition and scale, but in a small country like Aotearoa, sometimes we forget we're allowed to do that."

The Pride Elevates crowdfunding campaign raised $60,000, half of which came from general donors. 

"In terms of how helpful that is, it can't really be understated. That money was able to support nine different creative arts and culture projects to be fulfilled. That's nine projects that otherwise would not have existed during this festival. And having seen all nine of those projects, I can confirm there was some life-changing stuff in there, for artists and audiences alike," said Joe.

Auckland Pride wants to deepen its relationships and partnerships in Tāmaki Makaurau's arts sector, hoping to empower a more authentic and abundant queer arts ecosystem that nurtures emerging talent and elevates excellence.

Auckland Pride believes it is its responsibility to provide space to showcase Tāmaki Makaurau as one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, which means giving artists the resources they need.

"Supporting artists particularly within marginalised communities is more important than ever. As we fall deeper into atomisation as a society, art provides not just a balm, but a glue for cohesion," said Joe. 

"If that sounds like something intangible to measure, that's part of the problem; art's value in metric terms can be allusive, but it is there. Everyday we see people brought together and saved by art.

"For marginalised communities and artists from those communities, the support is invaluable also because they risk falling off the scene or the map as it's become a class issue during this cost of living crisis. We risk losing our artists, which is to say our community, overseas."

Pride Elevates is also described as a celebration of our present and future queer and Takatāpui artists and their work to acknowledge their place in our society.

"Pride is an opportunity to celebrate yourself - that's what the crux of it boils down to. And I hope the theme, Elevate, permeates through the rest of the year. Dream big, party hard and be the best version of yourself you can be. It's a deeply aspirational but hopeful mantra and theme. It's about joy. And we need that now more than ever," said Joe.