A commitment to the creative learning of young people has seen innovative school furniture company Furnware join forces with the Harcourts Hawke's Bay Arts Festival.
The three-year sponsorship deal will centre on the development of the festival's education and ambassador programmes, aimed at engaging more young people with the arts.
A Hawke's Bay success story, Furnware is New Zealand's largest manufacturer of school furniture with product in more than half of New Zealand schools and exports to about 25 countries.
Furnware managing director Hamish Whyte says the partnership aligns perfectly with the company's vision of fuelling creativity and inspiring young minds.
"We work hand in hand with schools to find the best ways for children to thrive in the most inspiring learning spaces possible. Partnering with the arts festival is an ideal vehicle for us to support creativity, imagination and curiosity amongst young people."
Festival director Pitsch Leiser welcomed the partnership and applauded Furnware's passion for the festival.
"We are very excited to welcome Furnware to our family of sponsors," says Mr Leiser.
"It's fantastic to align ourselves with such a well-known and respected company that has a strong presence in schools throughout New Zealand."
Mr Leiser says Furnware's support will ensure the future sustainability of the education and ambassador programmes.
Last year, more than 1500 students attended festival performances at a heavily subsidised rate, with another eight high-quality performances being offered as part of this year's programme.
The ambassador programme, a first for 2016, gives aspiring young actors, directors and backstage professionals a behind-the-scenes look at the festival.
Nineteen young people from 10 schools have recently been selected to take part in this year's programme, which will see them attend performances and connect with industry professionals throughout the 13 days of the festival.
Mr Leiser says the ambassador programme is a fantastic initiative, which opens the students' eyes to the challenges and opportunities in the world of performing arts.
"Furnware and the festival share a common goal of creating opportunities for young people to experience high quality arts and culture. This investment gives us the opportunity to further develop programmes for children and youth and ensure they are relevant, relatable and accessible to people from all walks of life."
Tickets for the festival will be on sale from August 4 at hbaf.co.nz or iSites Napier, Hastings and Havelock North.