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September 14, 2014 | by  | in Arts Theatre |
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Supporting the Arts

Funding for the arts has received little to no coverage during this election cycle thanks to Dirty Politics, Capital Gains Tax and debate interruptions. However, New Zealand is an enormously creative nation. The recent successes of Lorde and Eleanor Catton are but two examples of the artistic talent that New Zealand has fostered for the world to enjoy. But what can government do to help encourage the benefits of an artistic education, ensure greater appreciation of New Zealand art among the New Zealand public, and help guarantee that future New Zealand creative talent does not go to waste?

I asked each party’s Arts and Culture Spokesperson about their party’s policy for arts funding:
As your party’s arts and culture spokesperson, what policies will your party introduce that will help support the future growth of the arts in New Zealand?

Jamie Whyte – ACT Party
ACT thinks that the arts should be funded by voluntary consumers and voluntary investors, not by taxpayers. When a government directs taxpayers’ funds towards artists, two things go wrong. The first is that taxpayers who may not wish to patronise the artists are forced to. The second is that artists become supplicants of the state. We believe that true art requires a free and independent spirit.

Holly Walker – Green Party
We conducted a survey last year to find out what the biggest issues that people involved in the arts were facing in this country, and we found they were three key areas:

  • Funding – There was not enough funding for the arts and it was too complicated to apply.
  • Recognition – There was not enough recognition of the role that arts played in New Zealand.
  • Reach – Artists were having trouble putting their work out to both the world and New Zealand.

So the Green Party will tackle these problems through reintroducing the PACE (Pathway to Arts and Cultural Employment) scheme through Work and Income, guaranteeing a minimum income for artists. We will also streamline the arts-funding process through one body.
We will champion the arts as a valued career in New Zealand by encouraging arts-education strategies and highlighting the economic benefits of arts to New Zealand.
As well as that, the Greens will support new ways to ensure that artists work isn’t falling into a vacuum. We will encourage the New Zealand public to appreciate New Zealand art in all forms.

Chris Yong – Internet Party
The Internet Party will encourage the use of digital technologies that open new pathways to arts participation, education and engagement, and support initiatives that enhance Māori culture both domestically and internationally. We will promote the use of Creative Commons to help build an active culture of sharing, remix and reuse with a view to reforming copyright laws. Publicly funded copyright works are made available under an open Creative Commons licence after a period of time.
We will initiate a review of current funding programmes and their social/economic outcomes, with the aim of strengthening infrastructure and support for artist development and the growth of audiences. We would investigate new and alternative income models that can benefit artists, like Voluntary Collective Licensing, and identify opportunities to double arts investment.
Support further discussion about the development of a Museum of NZ Music, NZ Broadcasters and Stage and Screen, with a Hall of Fame, to recognise past and present works and achievements. We will support further discussion about ways to increase the proportion of Kiwi music – especially new music – on commercial radio (matching the 40 per cent on alternative radio).

Jacinda Ardern – Labour Party
The cultural sector is not just at the heart of our national identity, it’s an important part of a modern, creative, high-wage economy. Labour believes that the sector deserves certainty and sustainability from government.
We will focus on building careers in the arts sector through a Creative Industries Apprenticeship Scheme. We will review and re-establish the Pathways to Arts and Cultural Employment (PACE). We have also committed $2.4 million over four years to reinstate the Artists in Programme, and will establish a network of Children’s Art Houses.

Other policy initiatives include:

  • Continuing to support the New Zealand film industry, including reviewing incentives to ensure benefits to the domestic industry are maximised.
  • Working with industry and the Tertiary Education Commission to ensure that training and education places for the gaming and animation sector are keeping pace with domestic demand.
  • Reviewing and amending criteria for writers’ scholarships. Recipients of writers’ scholarships should have the option of staying and working at home.
  • Broadening the range of export markets which receive support for New Zealand musicians via New Zealand on Air, beyond the Australian market.

Chris Finlayson – National Party
National sees the arts as an integral part of our economy and cultural life, as opposed to previous governments which have regarded it as a photo-op portfolio. The way to create opportunities for people in the arts is to ensure we build on our existing international successes and make a sustainable domestic creative sector.

We’ve reformed Creative New Zealand, reducing the number of board members from 28 to 13, so that the focus is on artists and audiences rather than bureaucracy. At the same time, we’ve increased Māori and Pasifika representation.

Under National, New Zealand on Air now funds individual tracks and videos, meaning funding is available for a wider range of acts and genres, and is no longer exclusively focussed on commercial radio play (which even excluded student radio).

Just as important is what we won’t do: we won’t cripple our screen sector with uncertainty for producers, cast and crew by repealing our Hobbit laws, like Labour is proposing to do. We won’t let Australian-run unions hold our actors, crew members and productions to ransom by exploiting legal loopholes.

We have introduced new incentives for screen productions, which encourage projects that help develop New Zealand talent and creators. We have set up a screen advisory board consisting of some of the biggest names in film history – James Cameron, Jon Landau and Sir Peter Jackson among them – to advise our screen sector.

The arts are also important for social and personal development. That’s why we will expand around the country the Sistema Aotearoa programme which we started in South Auckland, giving kids the opportunity to learn orchestral music. Independent research has shown the programme has already had huge benefits for the kids involved and their community.

Tracey Martin – New Zealand First Party
When it comes to “the arts”, New Zealand First believes that a great nation is built upon a solid layer of cultural identity, hard work and mutual respect. The cement in this foundation is the way we express our hopes and dreams in our written, visual, audible and textural ways and forms. Creativity, harnessed and encouraged in the young, allows New Zealanders to express their feelings and thoughts, and when creativity is added to science, this in turn allows new industries or significant development of existing industries.

New Zealand needs to push the boundaries of what we can do well as well as find new answers to some of the world’s oldest problems. You can only do that if you encourage and nurture that spark and fire of a creative mind-set. We strongly believe that we need to give back value to the arts (and the humanities) in all sectors of the education environment. I am talking from preschool to all the way through tertiary and including adult and community education. To do this, New Zealand First intends to remove National Standards and return to a holistic education system that celebrates the creative subjects as well as the basics of reading, writing and maths. We intend to work with the ACE sector to re-establish night classes and adult learning in our communities.

We also believe that our commitment to a Universal Student Allowance as well as moving towards a fees-free environment will mean that more of our young people will feel comfortable pursuing higher learning in the arts. Again, this recognises that the arts and culture have value inside any civilised society.

The Arts Council Bill – which we opposed – removed any requirement to consult with the New Zealand public in how (their) arts money is spent. Art is not the domain of the privileged few, or Chris Finlayson setting himself up as a sort of modern-day Medici. We feel this is an error, and would like to go back to the arts sector and establish the best way or ways to bring the public New Zealand voice to government-funded art projects, rather than leave this to an elitist minority. New Zealand First also recognises the importance of delivering the arts into rural community (such as Tutus on Tour) and also supporting the arts in rural communities (such as through ARTZ funding that allows communities to decide on local projects by local artists). Rural communities offer the country a rich vein of creative and artistic thought.

For further information on each party’s policy, see their respective websites.

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