29 Sep 2021
I hope that the Government’s announcement this morning was met with some relief by the arts and culture sector.
In my last blog I talked about the need for us to be in Level 1 in order for the arts sector to fully flourish. In terms of any interventions to minimise the harm that Delta causes to the arts more broadly, it’s the Government itself that has the lions’ share of resources to intervene.
So, it’s with some relief that we acknowledge the intervention led by Minister Sepuloni to again inject some additional one-off emergency resource into the arts and culture sector to address the Delta arts emergency. This happened in 2020 too with that emergency. The evidence and narratives that were assembled by Manatū Taonga via a huge range of folk were key to mitigating harm then, just as it is now.
If you missed the announcement this morning, here are a few handy links:
- Media release: Government helps protect jobs and incomes for Arts and Culture sector (issued by Minister Sepuloni’s office)
- COVID-19 Delta Relief Funding (Manatū Taonga website)
- Our media release in response
I acknowledge and thank the many who shared their circumstances with us since the Delta variant impacted our lives – it was important that you did this. Your work enabled us and others with similar concerns to play our part in explaining that the Delta emergency is as harmful for the arts as the March 2020 COVID-19 outbreak and requires fresh investment to mitigate the harm.
It’s reassuring that we’re part of a governmental system that’s responsive to balancing the immediate needs of the cultural sector with the inter-generational impact of borrowing money to pay for the emergency now that will have to be repaid later.
In addition to the additional $5 million that Creative New Zealand will receive and invest in the short term, we’re pleased to be working closely with our fellow entities and Manatū Taonga so that the roll out of the Government’s Delta Relief Fund package is quick, easy for the sector to access, and complementary. With these factors in mind, noting the understandable COVID-19 fatigue that is evident now, we’ll focus our work on investing more through existing mechanisms rather than establishing new funds with new criteria and so on. We explain more in our media release
We know that there’s keen interest in the daily numbers and narrative around COVID-19, and it’s entirely natural that the experience of the rollercoaster is of highs and lows depending on what this news is. A handful of specialists are official forecasters whose views we follow with interest. Others of us have become casual predictors of what will happen COVID-wise with a view to providing clarity about the future. We agree that clarity would be marvellous, but the truth is that we have no crystal ball, but we do need to prepare for the future.
We’ve all learnt the hard lesson since March 2020 that it’s best to make some general working assumptions and change them as circumstances determine we can do so. The ‘least bad’ approach is to set yourself up the best you can and be adaptive, nimble and so on in the face of profound uncertainty. So, this is our general operating model; we reckon we’re now in about phase 3.5 of our COVID-19 Response.
For the moment then, our working assumption is that the whole country will not be at Alert Level 1 before Christmas. We hope that this working assumption is too pessimistic… that would be grand.
What this means in practical terms is that we see that the emphasis for our work in the remainder of the year will be supporting the sector to work through Alert Levels 2, 3, and 4 with minimum damage to the arts ecology.
A nation-wide Level 1, when it comes (our assumption is 2022), means much more will be possible in terms of arts community activation and public engagement.
We’re acutely aware of the wear and tear many of us are experiencing, in particular our whānau in Auckland. The accumulated depreciation of the last 16 months or so is very real. As well as making our offerings as fit for purpose as possible, in terms of how we work, we’re keeping things as simple and as flexible as we can, while operating from a space of manaakitanga.
Progress continues, congregation is key to success
The arts significantly rely on congregation and community, so while Alert Levels 3 or 2 are an improvement on Alert Level 4 for our personal wellbeing, anything other than Alert Level 1 is tough for all whose livelihoods depend on the live arts.
In addition to supporting our friends and whānau in the arts and in the community, what else might we do proactively hasten progress?
Promote the ‘double jab’ for the common good.
As this promotional image above suggests, we all yearn to live a life where we can do the things we love, like experience live music with our friends. We can’t really do this at any scale yet, the business side doesn’t really work with a cap of 100 – but we can accelerate the likelihood of this happy outcome of congregating together if we do one thing, which we can all do:
We can urgently activate our networks to encourage people to get vaccinated. I want to mihi to you in the arts community (and wider) who are already doing this and operating in this space.
As Sir James Henare (Ngāpuhi), father of our treasured and passed Arts Council member Erima Henare said:
Kua tawhiti kē tō haerenga mai kia kore a haere tonu. He nui rawa ō mahi, kia kore e mahi tonu.
We’ve come too far not to go further. And we have achieved too much not to achieve more.