Mapping the Auckland funding ecosystem for ngā toi-report summary - Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi

Mapping the Auckland funding ecosystem for Ngā Toi

Mapping the Auckland funding ecosystem for Ngā Toi

Research to map the Auckland funding ecosystem for ngā toi – culture, creativity and the arts, was co-commissioned by Auckland Council and Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi, Auckland’s arts regional trust, in February 2021. A downloadable pdf version is here.

Two briefs from the research report are available;

  • This report summary
  • An overview of outcomes sought by funders investing in the Auckland region aligned with Ngā Toi

The research will help inform sector discussions about: funding gaps and inequity of access to funding; the development of a regional investment strategy for Ngā Toi; monitoring and evaluation; how to increase understanding of the value of investing in Ngā Toi. One outcome of the research so far has been the production of guidelines for funders to help them see how Ngā Toi can help them achieve their strategic outcomes.

Note: The term ‘Ngā Toi’ is used in the report to encompass culture, creativity and art; and to better reflect the way that art, creativity, language and cultural knowledge are understood as an integrated whole that isn’t always captured by the more Western framing of ‘art’.

Report Summary


Te Taumata Toi‐a‐Iwi collaborated with Auckland Council to complete research that sought to map the funding ecosystem for Ngā Toi in the Auckland region, to help build understanding about:

  • The outcomes that are currently being sought and prioritised by investors in Ngā Toi
  • Funding issues/challenges that may require shared attention in order to address gaps within the investment ecosystem
  • Potential connections and areas of shared priority that may provide a platform for collaboration between funders and a more connected sector investment ecosystem.

The information in the report was collated through mixed method research, including key informative interviews, online and sector surveys, desktop research and the inclusion of detailed data supplied by Auckland Council and Creative New Zealand outlining their investment into Ngā Toi. The emerging impact of COVID-19 on the investment ecosystem is also considered where possible.

The report included:

  • An investment continuum that highlights the overall shape of the investment ecosystem – including broad funders, specialist funders of Ngā Toi, and funders who have a partial focus or investment strategy that includes some prioritisation of Ngā Toi
  • An analysis of the investments provided by key funders of Ngā Toi – where possible detailing their specific investment into Auckland
  • Key sources of funding for creatives and creative organisations, as identified by respondents who participated in a Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi online sector survey
  • An analysis of the key outcomes being supported by funders through their investments in Ngā Toi
  • Funding gaps and challenges as identified through key informant interviews with funders.

It also presented key considerations and opportunities that can be identified from the overall findings of this research.

The investment continuum

The research identified a range of funders that are investing in the Auckland region, including:

  • Central government and associated Crown agencies
  • Local government and associated Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs) with an investment budget
  • Philanthropic funders including family foundations, community trusts, community foundations and trustee companies; as well as individual private donors
  • Corporates investing through corporate foundations or corporate sponsorship
  • Iwi

Some of these investors have an Auckland regional focus, whilst others have a national focus that may or may not include specific regional priorities for Auckland. Many of these funders are investing in Ngā Toi both directly or indirectly i.e., with varying degrees of intentionality in terms of their strategic intent to support Ngā Toi and the range of outcomes that it offers as a sector. This relative intentionality or focus is described as a continuum in the diagram below:

Overview of investment ecosystem

Auckland Council and Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs), the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, and Crown entities NZ on Air, NZ Film Commission, Creative New Zealand and NZ Music Commission provide the most visible and significant investment into Ngā Toi in the region. Collectively, these funders invest approximately $281m into the Auckland region per annum.

Further investment into Ngā Toi is provided by an ecosystem of Ngā Toi specialist and inclusive funders, as well as broad community funders who invest in Ngā Toi as one of several sectors that they support.  There are relatively few specialist funders; and regional creative practitioners and organisations identify a strong reliance on those that are specialist and that operate in the Auckland region.

Auckland Council invests in Ngā Toi through Council departments, Local Boards and CCOs. Its investment is guided by its Arts and Culture Strategic Action Plan, Toi Whītiki, which outlines key outcome areas that include: access and participation; valuing and investing in arts and culture; a vibrant network of organisations and facilities; place-making through arts and culture; Auckland cultural identity and a flourishing regional creative economy.

In the financial year 2018/19, Council provided approximately $180.8m of investment into Ngā Toi in Auckland. This includes a total of $17m capital investment and $163.8m operational investment.

Council investment is comprised of:

$158.6m of capital and operational invested through:

  • Council departments (Arts, Culture and Events, Public Art, City Centre Activation, Community Empowerment Unit and Libraries)
  • Grants programmes (Regional Arts and Culture Grants Programmes, Local Board Grants)
  • Investment in major cultural institutions (Auckland War Memorial Museum and Museum of Transport and Technology) – some of which is distributed by the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Board (to Auckland Theatre Company, NZ Opera, Auckland Arts Festival and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra).

$22.2m of operational investment through CCOs – Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA[2] and Panuku Development.[3]

Creative New Zealand (CNZ) receives funding from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and the Lottery Grants Board, which it invests in Ngā Toi through a wide range of funding programmes – including two major investment programmes Toi Tōtara Haemata (Arts Leadership) and Toi Uru Kahikatea (Arts Development). CNZ’s investment is centred on outcome areas that include stronger arts (high quality art and international success); greater public engagement with the arts (participation and experience); and a stronger arts sector (sector resilience and society’s valuing of the arts).

Across the 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21 (quarter one) financial years, a total of $45.2m has been invested into the Auckland region via 1,719 grants:

  • In the financial year 2018/19, $12.9m funding was invested into initiatives in the Auckland region across 224 grants – which represents 27% of the total national investment.
  • In the financial year 2019/20, CNZ’s funding to initiatives in the Auckland region increased to $19.8m across 1,441 grants – representing 28% of CNZ’s national investment.
  • In the first quarter of the 2020/21 financial year to date (July – September 2020), CNZ had already invested into Auckland two thirds of the funds of the funds distributed in the previous financial year – $12.5m.

It should be noted that the response to COVID-19 has had an influence on the nature of CNZ funding during the latter part of the 19/20 financial year, with $8.8m of the total funding distributed to activities in Auckland for COVID-19 relief (Arts Continuity Grants, COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grants and Short-Term Relief for Investment Clients). In the current financial year 20/21, CNZ’s funding from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage almost tripled to $46.7m (from $16.7m in 19/20). This one-off budget boost of $25m is part of the Ministry’s new Arts and Culture COVID-19 Recovery Programme (see further below) (MCH, 2020b).

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage (MCH) provides funding to Ngā Toi through investment in Crown entities. Some of the funding provided by MCH to these entities is distributed as grant funding. Other Crown entities are funded by MCH directly to deliver Ngā Toi activities.

During the financial year 2019/20, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage administered $174m of funding through Crown entities with a funding administration role (Creative NZ, NZ Music Commission, NZ Film Commission, NZ on Air). This will rise to a budgeted $244m in the financial year 2020/21, as additional funding was made available from central government for the COVID-19 response.

In response to COVID-19 the Ministry for Culture and Heritage has released the Recovery Arts and Culture COVID-10 Recovery Programme, which includes $150million (over 3 years) that will be administered directly by MCH across three newly developed funds. The Recovery Programme also includes additional funding to Crown entities funded by MCH, including a further $25million to Creative New Zealand.

Summary of other key findings

Broad funders typically invest in Ngā Toi ‘accidentally’ – either because of the general and non-sector specific nature of their funding, or due to their interest in supporting broad community wellbeing. There is potentially more limited understanding or valuing of the unique role that Ngā Toi plays in supporting community wellbeing outcomes. This may put Ngā Toi at risk of year-to-year divestment by broad funders as other community needs arise – e.g., the emergency social needs that have arisen through COVID-19.

There are significant challenges in accurately mapping investment into Ngā Toi at both a national and regional level. There is inconsistency in relation to what data is collected by funders about their investments, how this data is coded, and how financial information about investment levels is published and made visible. Central government funding is particularly difficult to track as it is often passed through Ministries to Crown entities which have dual roles as grant funding administrators and as delivery leads of programmatic activity.

Transparency around the extent of broad philanthropic funding being invested into Ngā Toi is particularly challenging as too is the extent of corporate sponsorship and private donations, and the level of unfunded and unpaid activity or time given in kind by volunteers. There may also be other avenues of investment into Ngā Toi that are less visible and were not encountered during the course of this research (e.g., health or education funding). Information about these types of investment may be more practically obtained from the sector recipients directly.

Across the investment ecosystem, there are a number of key outcome areas that appear to be of shared interest to multiple funders – including wellbeing, development of cultural identity, economic development and employment, access to and participation in Ngā Toi, and sector capacity development.

The nature of the outcomes prioritised by funders is typically related to the type of investor they are i.e., government or philanthropic, regional or national.

However, it is clear that funding appears to be fragmented i.e., there is no collective vision for the regional impact desired from investment into Ngā Toi, and limited evidence of co-investment or funder collaboration. The lack of a collective regional investment strategy is also an issue for smaller investors that are looking for strategic guidance and leadership to align with.

Most funding (in terms of grant volume) is distributed in the form of contestable grants that are typically short-term and project-based in nature, creating issues with competition for resourcing and a lack of financial sustainability. Larger grants and/or long-term funding are typically provided through non-contestable mechanisms to larger organisations and institutions (e.g., CNZ investment clients and Auckland Council funding to major museums and cultural institutions). This funding is potentially less accessible to some segments of the Ngā Toi sector. These factors create challenges for practitioners and organisations when navigating the funding ecosystem and trying to access funding equitably. Māori, Moana Oceania and other diverse creative communities, as well as emerging artists, are perceived by interviewed funders as facing the most barriers to accessing investment. Some funders have specific priorities or strategies intended to increase funding to these communities; it may take further time for the impact of these strategies to be identifiable in investment data.

COVID-19 has had and will continue to have a significant impact on the Ngā Toi investment ecosystem by changing available budgets and creating new funding priorities related to recovery and sustainability.

  • New central government COVID-response funding will provide a short-term injection of investment to the sector nationally; but in some instances, will prioritise investment outside of the main centres including Auckland. The long-term implications of the withdrawal of this funding in two-to-three years’ time are yet to be fully considered.
  • The Auckland Council Emergency Budget has led to some reduction in the level of investment into arts and cultural programming and events, which may have a flow-on impact in terms of resourcing available to the Ngā Toi sector. For example, the Emergency Budget references a $1.07m reduction in funding to programmes in community centres, arts facilities and libraries; and a 70% reduction in public art spending (Auckland Council, 2020).

In this changing funding environment, there is significant potential for those that are already experiencing difficulty in accessing funding to face ongoing barriers to access.

Key opportunities

Based on the findings in this report, there are a number of opportunities to strengthen the Ngā Toi investment ecosystem in Auckland, including:

Opportunity for funders to place greater emphasis on monitoring and evaluation, to provide better clarity and visibility across the funding ecosystem, and to support greater impact from investments. Key first steps would be for funders to monitor and evaluate:

  • who is accessing their funding, and who may be missing out
  • their experience of accessing funding and managing these funding relationships
  • who is benefiting from funding, or may be missing out (who, where and what sectors within Ngā Toi)
  • how funds are being used – with a stronger focus on outcomes
  • where there might be opportunities to strengthen funding practices and/or explore more collaborative investment.

Opportunity for funders to develop a regional investment strategy for Ngā Toi, responding to regional priorities and maximising impact across shared outcome areas of interest. This may be led by funders of scale and with significant regional presence.

Opportunity for strategic and collaborative efforts to address funding gaps and inequity of access to funding – with a focus on increasing investment transparency and visibility and strengthening engagement with communities or sectors currently experiencing barriers to access. Such efforts could form a key pou within any regional investment strategy.

Opportunity for engagement with broad funders by specialist funders to increase understanding of the value of investing in Ngā Toi and potentially influence them to be more intentional with and/or extend the scope of their investment.

There is potential to further iterate this research as new COVID-response and subsequently post-COVID investment streams are announced, as these have significant potential to change the overall shape and scale of the Ngā Toi investment ecosystem in Auckland. There is also potential to address gaps in this research through further sector engagement.


[1] This figure includes regionally specific data for Auckland Council and its CCOs ($180.8m in 2018/19) and Creative New Zealand ($19.8m in 2019/20); and apportioned national data for the Ministry for Culture and Heritage ($11m in 2019/20), NZ on Air ($49m in 2019/20), NZ Film Commission ($20m in 2019/20). National data has been apportioned to 33% on a population basis to provide the approximate regional total. Other funders are not included in this figure.

[2] Note that RFA receives further funding from Auckland Council which may have further benefit to the Ngā Toi sector, as well as other sectors. This has not been included in the figure stated as it has not been quantified exactly.

[3] ATEED and RFA are now a single entity, Auckland Unlimited.