We’re so pleased to introduce the latest addition to the Diversity Arts team, our new Business Manager Rādhikā Ram Tevita! Rādhikā is a lawyer admitted to practice in New Zealand and New South Wales, who has worked in a diverse range of roles across the corporate and public sector on both sides of the Tasman.
She has has a long history of advocacy and passion for the arts, and is one half of the team leading the collective, we are the mainstream. Learn more about Rādhikā by reading our interview with her below!
Tell us a bit more about your background and your career path?
My background and career path are quite the wild ride so buckle in! I entered the workforce at 15, which was fortunate as at 19 aiming to complete a Bachelor of Commerce degree in marketing and management, I found myself with no fixed address.
Once I completed that degree, rather than continue with the double degree I had started, I entered the IT sector working with developers, creating user documentation and training and eventually network administration/help desk. It was a buoyant sector at the time that ultimately helped fund a return to university to complete a Bachelor of Laws at both Victoria and Auckland universities.
I took a break during that degree to move cities, and work in Refugee Determination. This was during a time that global events ignited tightened borders and the resurgence of racialised immigration policies on both sides of the Tasman, an important period that informed a great deal of who I am today. I decided I wanted my career to include time in the private sector, venturing into professional B2B sales then marketing, while I was admitted to the Bar. This eventually led to my crossing the Tasman to Warrang, in what was intended as only a short stop. Some 16 years later, I am still here. I have spent the bulk of these years in commercial contract roles, establishing large scale partnerships with leading marketing, advertising and media agencies.
You’ve had previous experience doing work that empowers creatives of colour. Why is racial equity in the arts important to you and what drew you to working with Diversity Arts?
I have worked with my hands since childhood, wrote and recited my first poem in public at the age of 10. Arts and Culture was a sector that for this child of migrants remained elusive as a career path. A traditional career trajectory was the only one I was directed to pursue to the extent that, in desperation, I used to complete my sibling’s art homework and eagerly wait on “our” marks. My activism also began in childhood, and I was raised on a steady diet of discourse on Indigenous land rights, religious freedom, aniti-apartheid policies, the Mau movement of Samoa, decolonisation and tino rangatiratanga (issues of sovereignty) in the land of my birth, Aotearoa.
While my own creative pursuits have been relegated to hobbies, I have had a long held interest in challenging race, class and colonisation in the creative industries, with a particular interest in cultural appropriation, at the intersection of hand weaving and baby-wearing.
My profession left little room for the depth of discussion and interrogation that I was passionate about, so I helped start a group for fibre artists of colour, before joining the collective of we are the mainstream three years ago when we began.
It was an opportunity to not only explore, but to be actively engaged in dismantling the systemic barriers to racial equity and belonging. It was through this that I was introduced to the amazing work of Diversity Arts, and I couldn’t have been more excited to have the opportunity to leverage my diverse background to support an organisation directly addressing racial inequity at every level of the arts and cultural sector.
How do you feel that your work in both the corporate and public sectors can transfer into working in the arts?
I believe, and have already experienced, that there are a number of key skills and things that I have learned along the way that have translated well into helping build a robust arts organisation. Accessing and implementing the right tools and supports to free people up from the mundane isn’t particularly exciting or visible, but rarely does anyone look at the scaffolding of a building and wonder if it will do its job, until it doesn’t. As Business Manager, I am hoping to make sure the extremely clever people I work with can perform their magic unencumbered, and that collectively we represent a strong and healthy organisation for our partners and supporters. Some 11 years in a brand and corporate marketing team also hasn’t hurt and I still think and operate like a marketer.
I have reached a point in my own career where I am no longer interested in giving my time to institutions that aren’t actively addressing race inequity.
Tell us a bit about your own creative passions/work!
These days my making is largely dabbling in botanical dyeing, spinning fibre, and making accessories for knitters. I am actively involved in the Girl Guide Association, managing and running a Unit, as well sitting on the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Reference Panel.
As a parent, working with children and young people has become vitally important to me, and in an informal educational setting I have been able to introduce a group of young minds to the amazing world they live in and will be the guardians of (I also don’t mind the fact that we make a lot of stuff together too!).
When I am not doing that, I am also designing and delivering workshops to people and organisations interested in understanding intentional intersectionality and shifting how they attract and develop talent that bears a closer resemblance to our communities.
What is your hope for your new role?
I hope the work I do for DARTS will help it scale efficiently and effectively, so that we can manoeuvre swiftly in our support of creatives, organisations and the sector. There is such an opportunity to tap into the wealth of knowledge that has been acquired, developed and initiated by this organisation and I hope that I am able help make more of it accessible to the sector.