Our Artistic Director and Administrator work year round in preparation for NYDS!

Claire and Tricia are supported by a dedicated and committed Board throughout the year and are joined during the week of NYDS by an amazing team of tutors, support staff and volunteers.

If you’re interested in joining the NYDS team in any capacity, send us an e-mail at


Claire Keys

Artistic Director

Claire was a student of NYDS in it’s inaugural year and has since returned as Assistant Tutor, Assistant Artistic Director and now Artistic Director. She has a passion for the learning and development of students at the school and is very honoured to be in the position to enable this tradition to continue. She is a graduate of the New Zealand College of Performing Arts, Victoria University, and Wellington College of Education. Claire has directed for HaBYT and has travelled to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with the play Desperate Antics. She returned to New Zealand in 2017 after several years in Ireland and the USA and currently resides in Wellington with her two beautiful children and wonderful husband.

Tricia Johnson


Tricia comes to NYDS with a Arts Administration background locally in Hawkes Bay. She brings a passionate approach to supporting the local arts community and a wider national audience. After an early career in the banking industry, Tricia moved from Napier and raised her family in central Hastings. It was then that Tricia undertook study, attending EIT for 3 years to study Fashion and Textiles. She has continued to add to her training in Te Reo Maori, Business and Project Management, alongside several creative practices and becoming a Justice of Peace. Most recently, Tricia worked at Hastings City Art Gallery for 10 years as the Exhibition Coordinator and is multiskilled in administration across the creative industry. She is looking forward to working with the team, students, and community to deliver exciting and thoughtful programmes for NYDS.