07 Apr 2020
Kia ora arts whānau.
We’re acutely aware of the hardship that COVID-19 has already caused and will continue to cause to the arts community. Our thoughts are with you and your whānau, as well as the other sectors, people and communities who are heavily affected.
Things are changing day by day and we know this makes it difficult to plan with any certainty. Just today the limits around indoor gatherings shrank from 500 to 100 people and New Zealand’s borders were officially closed. As our key link with central government, we’re in regular contact with the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. We’re also in touch with other allies. Getting us all to a place of more certainty will be hard, but it’s a task we know the arts community is up for.
Right now, we’re working on a plan for how we can support the arts sector through these difficult times. As I said on Tuesday, and you may have seen in The Big Idea’s article today, our COVID-19 response is our first priority.
We said that by 31 March we’ll have our plan in place for how we can support artists, practitioners and arts organisations through this crisis. What does that look like in practice?
- We’ve pulled together a COVID-19 response group to give dedicated focus to this mahi. This work is our first priority.
- The Chair of the Arts Council has called an urgent meeting for tomorrow Friday 20 March to empower us at Creative New Zealand to respond to these extraordinary circumstances in an extraordinary way. We’ll be able to update you following this meeting, likely early next week.
We know our response will need to be significant and there needs to be a new ‘playbook’ on how we provide that support. As I said on Monday, and to The Big Idea, we’ll leave no stone unturned as we develop our response. The Arts Council is in a reasonably strong financial position with healthy reserves to call upon for a rainy day. This is that time. We can quickly free up funds, helped by more lotteries funding already this year.
We’re also assessing what the Government’s recent announcements mean for the sector. It’s great to see the Government’s COVID-19: Economic Response Package announced earlier this week. We’re examining it closely to work out the implications for the arts sector.
If there’s one thing we know, it’s that the arts sector is astonishing in a crisis; our artists and creatives are resilient and come together to support each other. There are some amazing collections of information out there already and we can see the arts community rallying to share ideas and support each other. The Facebook group Aotearoa Arts & Events During the Covid-19 Crisis is a wonderful example of this.
As always, please refer to the Ministry of Health as your primary source of COVID-19-related information. This includes the Government’s updated advice for public events and mass gatherings. The Government has also established a 'Unite against COVID-19' website which includes "simple steps you can take to unite against the virus and slow its spread".
We’ll continue to provide regular updates on our website and link to those of other official sources of advice, like the Ministry of Health. Given the nature of what we’re experiencing, there’s often not a lot of lead time when new information comes out – we receive updates the same time as everyone else – we’re working hard to filter out a lot of noise and provide the clearest, sharpest advice we can.
You’ll hear from us again soon – likely early next week – with an update from tomorrow’s urgent Arts Council meeting.
Kia kaha, stay strong, take care, keep looking after each other, and be assured we’re doing our best to support the arts community.
Aku mihi nui,
Tumu Whakarae | Chief Executive
E tū kahikatea, hei whakapae ururoa.
Awhi mai, awhi atu, tātou, tātou e.
Kahikatea stand together; their roots intertwine, strengthening each other.
We all help one another and together we will be strong.
COVID-19: Economic Response Package
We’re closely examining the Government’s economic response package announced earlier this week to work out the implications for the arts sector. We're in conversations with the likes of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage (MCH) and Ministry of Social Development (MSD) as part of this.
In the meantime, we encourage you to look at the package on the Beehive website, and what this might mean for you.
There will be opportunities for both individuals and organisations. For example, it appears that self-employed people, or sole traders, (ie artists that lead a portfolio career) could apply for both the COVID-19 Leave Payment and Wage Subsidy. Take a look at the WINZ application page to find out more.
If you’re unsure how or if any of this applies to you as an individual or organisation, please contact WINZ, as every situation is different and nuanced. We’ll update you with any further clarity we receive as a result of our conversations with MCH and MSD.
COVID-19: Economic Response Package (factsheets at the bottom of the page)
- The Government's official 'Unite against COVID-19' website
- Ministry of Health COVID-19 advice and updates
- The Government’s COVID-19: Economic Response Package (including factsheets)
- Creative New Zealand response to COVID-19 (regularly updated webpage)
- Ministry of Health guidance on looking after our mental wellbeing
- Facebook group: Aotearoa Arts & Events During the Covid 19 Crisis