COVID-19 is affecting all our lives and all parts of our economy. The impacts on the arts sector were felt early, with cancellations of performing arts, sector events, and national and international tours, with a concomitant loss of jobs and gigs. The Government response has been fast, and we welcome the provisions that have been made that will provide some support for people in the sector in the short to medium term. We’re keeping tabs on what’s out there for our sector – and looking at how we can contribute to the conversations and collaborations that will shape ‘the new normal’ for our sector and our communities when COVID-19 is eventually behind us.
The situation continues to evolve rapidly. Many of the valuable resources produced since the beginning of March have lost their short-term relevance as the country has moved from a Level 1 to a Level 4 response. They will regain relevance as we once again are able to gather together as artists and audiences.
In late March, Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi commissioned Dovetail, an Auckland-based research and evaluation company, to undertake a survey to understand the impact of COVID-19 on Auckland’s creative sector. The survey was distributed via email and social media networks over the first two weeks of April 2020. We had 332 responses, with the responses revealing both the immediate impacts of the crisis, and the underlying fragility of the arts sector.
In terms of the immediate impacts, more than 80% of respondents said that they had cancelled an event or service due to COVID-19 containment measures. This has meant sharp reductions in individual and organisational incomes. Added to this is uncertainty about when individuals and organisations involved in the arts will again be able to use established platforms to connect with their audiences. The survey reveals the sector is making use of the support provided through Government, as well as actively working to find innovative ways to connect with audiences and patrons.
The findings are a call to action to address the medium to long-term health of the arts sector. Only 39% of respondents are confident that they will still be working in the creative sector in six months’ time. Actions suggested to address this uncertainty and ensure that the arts sector recovers from the COVID-19 crisis include addressing medium to long-term financial support; supporting in-sector collaboration; the creation of new spaces and platforms to showcase, share and monetise; capacity building and nourishing local sector and content.
Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi will share the survey findings widely to support the sector, government, Creative New Zealand and other funders, as we collaborate with them both to address the sector’s immediate needs and to put the arts sector onto a sustainable foundation for the future.
A follow-up survey will be carried out later this year to provide additional insights into how the sector is managing to consider a stronger more collaborative approach to the future of the arts, and where the needs are for sector support in Tāmaki Makaurau.