We’d like to share our position on the significant impact that the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown is having on our sector.
We endorse the necessary measures government has put into place to keep Aotearoa safe. The Delta variant has rapidly changed the landscape, particularly for an arts, culture, and creative sector that exists in a perpetual condition of frailty and fragmentation.
The April 2020 lockdown provided us with the opportunity to re-think and re-imagine the sector and its infrastructure. We saw it as a time to plan and to re-evaluate the current systems in place – what works, what doesn’t and why. It also saw much needed, targeted emergency funding distributed across the sector.
As this short-term relief was necessary in April 2020, it’s necessary again now. Delta has massively shifted the parameters of Alert Levels. The live events sector in particular is significantly impacted by the updated Alert Level 2 restrictions and can only viably operate under Alert Level 1.
We want to acknowledge any creative and cultural endeavour that is impacted by these changes. Culture and creativity exists amongst multiple communities, not only the professional sector, and we see the importance and relevance community-based initiatives have on our collective wellbeing.
Various creative sector organisations from across Aotearoa are writing to government with calls for specific emergency relief funding; from extending the Wage Subsidy Scheme to live events workers and artists under Alert Level 2, to providing specific funding to Creative New Zealand and other agencies to provide additional financial support to artists and organisations until live events can resume at full capacity.
Resilience funding to support operations is crucial right now to enable the sector to survive. Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi endorses these calls and encourages further planning for when the sector can viably re-open. Currently, there are no mechanisms for underwriting or live event insurance. Looking to international initiatives such as Victorian Government's Live Performance support to presenters and suppliers could provide guidance on the kinds of infrastructure needed for the sector in response to living through a pandemic.
We are again at a turning point, a chance to re-think and re-imagine. The actions taken now could have long-term positive impact for systems change. Last year Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi wrote a briefing to the incoming Minister and Associate Ministers for Arts, Culture, and Heritage and we re-iterate several of these calls, including:
From our own work – and a rich international research base – we know that the arts contribute powerfully to individual and community wellbeing, especially as we experience crisis. They enrich our lives, connect us, help us to describe and make sense of our world. Their unique contribution to our COVID world has been very visible, and we know how important they will be as part of our recovery.
If you are experiencing mental distress or financial difficulties right now, below is a list of services that may help.
We want to reiterate that we are working to ensure the sector voices are heard.
Alison Taylor, Chief Executive, Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi