29 Jul 2021

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Advocating for arts in infrastructure

Creative New Zealand is advocating for more infrastructure projects to integrate arts and culture, to recognise the contribution arts and culture make to placemaking and wellbeing outcomes.

We recently made a submission to Te Waihanga New Zealand Infrastructure Commission’s consultation, He Tūāpapa ki to Ora |Infrastructure for a Better Future. As the Commission develops a 30-year Infrastructure Strategy for Aotearoa, we’ve encouraged it to consider how it can enable the arts to play a larger role in New Zealand’s infrastructure in the future.

Our submission advocates for the adoption of a ‘percent for art’ policy as a part of the strategy. A percent for art policy typically requires 0.5–1 percent of the total budget for an infrastructure project to be spent on artistic or creative components.

Percent for art or arts in infrastructure policies are an effective way for developers to deliver wellbeing outcomes to their communities, and have been successfully delivered by American and Australian governments, as well as in some towns and cities in Aotearoa New Zealand, such as Dunedin and Rotorua.

Western Australia Percent for Art Scheme

Dunedin City Council - Art and Creativity in Infrastructure Policy

One percent for public art is revitalising Rotorua

Our submission also outlined examples of infrastructure projects that have integrated arts and culture to deliver community wellbeing outcomes. This includes partnerships in Christchurch that have supported a body of public artworks and transformed largescale infrastructure like the Justice and Emergency Precinct, as well as transport projects such as the acoustic barriers designed by artist Johnson Witehira along the southern motorway in Auckland, and the City Rail Link design.

These examples also show the importance of bringing artists in at the start of the project to make sure that the best outcomes can be delivered.

“There’s already a great range of projects that show the benefits of integrating arts and culture into infrastructure,” says David Pannett, Creative New Zealand’s Senior Manager for Strategy and Engagement. “The artworks delivered through these projects have played a key role in placemaking. They’ve increased the use of public spaces and become landmarks in our communities that show the identities of our places and people.”

Since central and local government are responsible for many assets and services, it’s important to remind decision-makers how this work relates to the arts sector, and the value of supporting and investing in arts and culture. We encourage you to make submissions to relevant consultations from local and central government, to have your say on what you want your community to look and feel like both now and in the future.

Creative New Zealand Submission to He Tūāpapa ki to Ora | Infrastructure for a Better Future (pdf  700KB)