ADA is a consulting and mentoring business.

What we do:

  1. Provision of career and business development advice for artists and cultural enterprises.
  2. Provision of business planning for self-employment and small businesses.
  3. Provision of planning for whanau to develop their capacity.
  4. Provision of training for creative sector and arts students in secondary schools.

How do we do it:
We are based in Dunedin and provide mentoring and advice for self-employment to clients referred by Work and Income in the Dunedin Metro area.
We operate across Otago and Southland through the STAR programme to provide Secondary Schools careering planning programmes for their creative sector and arts students.
We collaborate with Maori NGO to meet the needs of Maori for their development.
We work with fee-paying clients face to face or via email, phone and skype to provide mentoring for their career and business development.

Our Purpose
The work and creative vision of our clients adds vibrancy, cultural and aesthetic diversity, economic activity and critical analysis to our communities and improves the world that we live in.
The pathway to success for artists begins in secondary school continues through tertiary training and into professional development and business start-up or employment in the creative sector.
ADA ensures their clients have a clear sense of direction and the understanding to achieve success in their work. We do that by continuing to identify and define the pathways that artists use to achieve success. ADA provides commentary, advocacy, resources, training, mentoring and advice to artists and to the institutions that they engage with.


ADA started trading in 2006 entering a contract with Ministry of Social Development (MSD) Southern Region to provide mentoring and advice for their clients in the PACE programme. Since then ADA has won further multi-year tenders and negotiated annual contracts with MSD.

ADA picked up where The Higher Trust left off. The Higher Trust had been working with Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and their predecessors since 1998 to develop programmes and services for arts employment. Antony Deaker was involved in this work from the outset and was employed to manage the work of The Higher Trust from 1999. The research and advocacy work done by The Higher Trust informed the PACE policy that was launched nationally in late 2001.

ADA is managed by Antony Deaker. From 1998 to 2006 through The Higher Trust he provided research, advocacy, programme development and the delivery of services for arts employment and business development. ADA carried on from The Higher Trust to provide services to MSD and since 2009 these have been broadened to include any client of theirs intending to start self-employment or a small business.

Antony’s work in Dunedin with Arts Employment informed the development of the Pathways to Arts and Cultural Employment (PACE) policy launched nationally in 2001 by the Labour/Alliance government. PACE enabled artists and creative sector workers to be recognised and supported by WINZ to develop their careers.

Antony Deaker’s innovative approach to mentoring has been highly successful with an annual average of over 80% of clients leaving the benefit system permanently to start self-employment or into employment related to their career goals.

Research completed for ADA by Impact Consulting in 2012 reported that 90% of 120 clients from the previous four years were employed and over 75% of them had successfully started their own business. Their research also reported that 77% of those surveyed rated ADA’s mentoring services as excellent.

In the last five years ADA has broadened its reach to include work within the Maori community which has included consulting for Maori NGO and providing mentoring to whanau and individuals through different Maori development programmes. ADA is part of the Whanau Ora provider collective He Waka Kotuia o Araiteuru.

In 2012 ADA launched programmes, resources and relationships to deliver a specialist careers advice service to creative sector students at secondary schools across Otago and Southland. Schools purchase ADA’s service using the Secondary Tertiary Alignment Resource (STAR) through the Ministry of Education.

Michael Deaker has worked in education and media all of his working life and continues to contract to the Ministry of Education for various short-term projects and consultancy. He is the owner and director of ADA 2007 Ltd the company trading as Artist Development Agency. He oversees the work of Antony Deaker and the development of new contracts and proposals.