26 Jan 2022

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Stephen Wainwright
Posted by Stephen Wainwright

Chief Executive | Pou Whakahaere

Navigating life at Red

Tēnā tatou. Well, here we are again.

Tuatahi (firstly), I want to acknowledge the uncertainty and anxiety felt across the sector following the announcement that Omicron is in the community and that all of New Zealand is now at Red under the traffic light setting of the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

While the Red setting is not exactly a lockdown that we’ve grown accustomed to, these necessary restrictions are already having a huge impact on gatherings, events and audience numbers, the lifeblood of many artists, arts practitioners and arts organisations.

Our thoughts remain with the sector as a whole – some of the hardest hit when it comes to restrictions. We acknowledge the many festivals, performances, events and arts activities that have been cancelled or deferred due to the move to the Red setting.

As reflected in my last blog, 2021 shaped up to be another challenging and disruptive period – one that our arts community met with considerable resilience. The early stages of 2022 look to be no different and we will once again need to wayfare through this latest stage of the pandemic.

At earlier stages in our COVID-19 response, we’ve been able to provide additional support for the sector, initially drawing on our reserves in 2020 and then through two one-off financial injections from the Government which have now been distributed (most recently through the Delta Relief Funding package). These recognised the critical importance of the cultural and creative sector to the economy and, at an individual and community level, the significant role it plays in enhancing our wellbeing.

At this stage, we’ll continue with our funding offerings as planned. Round 4 of Arts Grants, which offers project funding for a broad range of arts activities, including artist development, opens on Tuesday 1 February. 

I want to assure you that we’re continuing to work with Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage to ensure that we build our collective understanding of the consequences of COVID-19 for the sector under the current Red setting of the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

We provide regular updates to the Government (via the Ministry) and offer advice where we can, and the Ministry has been keeping us well-informed on developments. However, it’s worth noting that decisions around any broader Government support, such as a wage subsidy, rest with the Government itself - we appreciate that this is complex work that takes time.

In terms of our funding offerings, we’ve been asking applicants to provide COVID-19 contingency planning in their applications for almost two years and we’ll continue to make funding decisions based on the situation at the time. As a result of this, those already funded should be able to adjust their projects and work to their contingency plans.

Since our first experience of lockdown in March 2020, we’ve evolved our offering to the arts community, guided by the Arts Council. We’ve done our best to future-proof our grants programme, so we can stay on track through uncertainty and change. We’ll continue to do this.

Where to look for information or support:

As always, we will share any updates when we have them.

Kia haumaru tāu noho, please remain safe. 

Nā Stephen Wainwright