The new cultural philanthropy organisation, the Crystal Arts Trust, has assumed the sponsorship of the Best First Book awards at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.
Formerly known as the MitoQ Best First Book Awards, the awards, for four books each year, will from 2022 be known as the Crystal Arts Trust Best First Book Awards.
Longstanding patrons of the arts James and Rosetta Allan formed the Crystal Arts Trust earlier this year with the aim of making a difference to the arts in Aotearoa New Zealand by providing financial support to emerging writers, visual artists and musicians.
“I have always believed that the arts are fundamental to our humanity,” says Trust executive director James Allan. “In 2016 my wife, Rosetta Allan, received a Creative New Zealand Arts Grant which enabled her to accept the St Petersburg Art Residency to research and write her second novel in Russia. I experienced first-hand how receiving financial support to develop a creative career provides a sense of validation, encouragement, and empowerment to keep pushing forward.
“From that moment, I had a desire to make a long-lasting contribution to the arts in Aotearoa New Zealand. That time has finally arrived,” says James.
Chair of the New Zealand Book Awards Trust, Nicola Legat, warmly welcomed the Crystal Arts Trust as the Best First Book Awards’ new donor. “We were enormously grateful to MitoQ for elevating the profile of these prizes, which make such an impact on emerging writers’ careers, over the past three years. But as they step aside, we are extremely excited to form a fresh alliance with an inspiring new organisation that has supporting authors and artists at the heart of its aims.”
The four winners of the Crystal Arts Trust Best First Book Awards for 2022 will be announced next year at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards ceremony on Wednesday 11 May, a marquee event at the Auckland Writers Festival. The judges will select a Best First Book winner in each of the Ockhams’ four categories – Fiction, Poetry, General Non-Fiction and Illustrated Non-Fiction – from books by debut authors that have been shortlisted or longlisted in the awards. Each 2022 Crystal Arts Trust Best First Book Award winner will receive $2,500 and a 12-month membership of the New Zealand Society of Authors.
The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards are supported by Ockham Residential, Creative New Zealand, Jann Medlicott and the Acorn Foundation, Mary and Peter Biggs CNZM, Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand, Crystal Arts Trust, and the Auckland Writers Festival.