Greetings to our arts, culture and creative sector whānau.
Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi welcomes yesterday’s announcement of COVID-19 Delta relief funding by Manatū Taonga, Ministry for Culture and Heritage. The government has listened and responded to calls from the arts, culture, and creative sector for emergency support. This will be welcomed by Tāmaki Makaurau based organisations and practitioners whose mahi has been particularly affected by the longer lockdowns that have been experienced in our region over the last 18 months.
The COVID-19 Delta variant continues to rapidly change the landscape, perpetuating and highlighting precarities and inequities within the sector. While we support the measures Government continues to put into place for public safety, future planning remains extremely challenging in this uncertain environment.
This repurposed fund will help to mitigate some of the current challenges. It will also provide insight into understanding that, although these challenges have been exacerbated by COVID-19, they have existed and been perpetuated for a long time.
The $5 million Cultural Sector Emergency Relief Fund is open to “cultural sector organisations, including businesses and charities who have current legal status in New Zealand, and also to sole traders who have a New Zealand Business Number”. This could provide much-needed support for independents and sole-traders – the artists, makers, creators, designers, and technicians – people at the heart of our arts and culture ecosystem who often fall between gaps in funding. If you do not currently have an NZBN, these are free and it is a relatively easy process to apply for one.
The $22.5 million allocated for Future Support for Cultural Performances and Events echoes initiatives that have been rolled out internationally. Finding ways for the continuation of arts and culture during this time is hugely important; the arts create significant social, economic and cultural value for our country, society, communities, whānau, hapū, iwi and individuals. They can have a positive impact on community cohesion and inequity – particularly during times of crisis. (Good Practice Guidelines, 2021).
Manatū Taonga also worked with several of its sector agencies when planning for this fund, awarding $5 million to Creative New Zealand (CNZ), $3 million to New Zealand Music Commission, $1 million to Te Papa/Museums Aotearoa, and $1 million to the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC).
While this funding addresses needs right now, there is a window of opportunity to re-think and re-imagine the future of the sector and its infrastructure. The systems are broken, and COVID-19 is playing a major role in revealing that. We need to see innovation to support systems change. As Rosabel Tan writes, “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to critically examine the systems that no longer serve us and to radically reimagine our individual and collective futures for the better.”
While the support provided to help the sector weather the impacts of COVID-19 is welcome, without a national strategy to support long term infrastructure and investment, we are witnessing substantial funding being allocated without long-term strategic direction. We are concerned that certain communities will miss out. The COVID-19 Delta Relief Fund, for example, while it provides support that is essential to our sector right now, comes at a cost. It is funding reprioritised from two streams in the existing Creative Arts Recovery and Employment (CARE) fund; Showcasing the regions and Untold Stories.
Showcasing the regions funding was for projects that showcase local culture and history in the regions. Untold Stories funding sought to bring more diversity to storytelling and content creation in the mainstream cultural sector. These two streams had the potential to support the mahi of communities that have been historically and continuously marginalised.
We hope that these priorities will be able to be fulfilled elsewhere in the cultural sector recovery fund and in future.
A long-term national strategy would help us to understand the Government’s overarching priorities and outcomes for the sector, what their vision is for arts, culture and creativity in Aotearoa, where they see the gaps and inequities, how they engage (or are planning to engage) with the sector, and where they see investment is needed for long-term positive impact and system change.
So while we welcome yesterday’s announcement, we would like to once again reinforce our call for a long term national arts, culture and creative sector strategy, that is developed alongside the sector. Let’s now plan together for our future.
As always, we encourage any feedback from our network and want to reiterate that we are working to ensure your voices are heard. Our thoughts are with you all.
Alison Taylor, Chief Executive, Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi