21 Jul 2022

This content is tagged as Creative NZ .


Challenging times for arts sector mean renewed strategic focus for Creative New Zealand
Statement of Intent cover: Eddie Elliott, Waiwhakaata. Photography by: Jinki Cambronero. Statement of Performance Expectations cover: Antireality perversion void, 2022. Installation view, courtesy of Jess Johnson, the artists and Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery. Image by Sam Hartnett.

Resilience, access, inclusion and equity, and wellbeing are Creative New Zealand’s strategic focus areas over the next four years, aimed at providing ongoing support while lifting the sector out of the challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

These focus areas are included in our new medium-term strategy, the Statement of Intent 2022–2026, following from the 10-year strategic direction set in mid-2019, and reflect the significant upheaval that the COVID-19 environment has had on the sector. The strategic focus areas were also tested with the arts community in March 2022.

The new Statement of Intent also signals a greater emphasis on partnerships and advancing our programme to meet our aspirations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Caren Rangi, Chair of our governing body the Arts Council, says that the shift in focus for us has come at a time when more arts practitioners and artists are navigating a difficult environment in the sector since the arrival COVID-19.

“The discussions we’ve had, and still are having, with artists and arts practitioners show just how hard it is for people in the sector to lead sustainable careers in the arts, particularly through this pandemic.

“Coupled with significantly high inflation and the cost-of-living crisis that Aotearoa New Zealand is currently experiencing, it’s clear that our sector has wider systemic issues, and change needs to happen to secure a better future for the arts in Aotearoa. We will work with the sector to effect that change; however, like everyone else, we will need to be more agile in the way we apply our limited financial resources.”

Our Chief Executive Stephen Wainwright says he expects the sector will require additional support to recover and rebuild following COVID-19 and continue making a significant contribution to the wellbeing of all New Zealanders.

“We spent down our reserves through our initial emergency response to COVID-19, and with the ending of one-off COVID-19 funding from the Government, as well as the lack of material increases to our baseline funding, we will have limited financial flexibility over the next four years,” says Stephen.

“There will be times ahead when we’ll have to make some difficult decisions as to where we invest our resources. This comes at a period when the arts sector is struggling, and the next several years will be challenging for our community,” he continues. 

“Additional one-off Government support has enabled the arts sector to survive through COVID-19, and I’m sure we’re joined by the community in appreciating this assistance. The issue now is looking forward – the ongoing consequences of the pandemic coupled with unprecedented inflation are heightening concerns about the community’s ability to succeed over the next few years. All the hard work to mitigate harm over these past two years could be jeopardised if we can’t form a plan to reposition arts, culture and heritage from the margins.” 

To respond to these challenges, we’ve made three key shifts in our mid-term strategy, identifying three strategic focus areas for the next four years.

These focus areas are:

  • Resilience – by developing a resilient and sustainable arts sector and including sustainable arts sector careers
  • Access, inclusion, and equity – by ensuring our services and the arts are accessible to, inclusive of and equitable for all New Zealanders
  • Wellbeing – by embedding a recognition of the role of the arts and ngā toi in contributing to the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

We’ll also place greater emphasis on partnerships by introducing a new deliverable, ‘Partnering for the arts’ and, over the next 12 months, we’ll identify areas for further partnership development.

Work will also continue with advancing Te Kaupapa o Toi Aotearoa, a programme aimed at ensuring Creative New Zealand has the organisational culture, competencies, and practices to enable us to meet our aspirations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi and be more responsive to other worldviews and perspectives in the way we work, considering the people and communities it serves.

We’ll also continue delivering to our key strategies, Te Hā o ngā Toi—Māori Arts Strategy and the Pacific Arts Strategy, as well as to the Investment Strategy Te Ara Whakamua and the Advocacy Strategy.  

Stephen Wainwright says that although the next four years will be a challenge, the refocusing on key strategic areas could potentially transform the arts sector.

“Our research shows that New Zealanders are more positive than ever about the essential role the arts and ngā toi play in our lives, and this is heartening.

“We are determined, and we will work hard on behalf of all creatives, to find an equitable, inclusive accessible and resilient model for a more sustainable arts sector for years to come.”

For more information on Creative New Zealand’s focus for the next four years, see below and read the Statement of Intent

For information about what Creative New Zealand will be doing and how we’ll measure our performance over the next year, read the Statement of Performance Expectations 2022/23

Strategic focus areas: 2022–2026

Sector resilience and support for individual practitioners

Why we’re focusing on this area

COVID-19 has further impacted the arts sector’s ability to be resilient and highlighted that it’s even more difficult to sustain a viable arts sector career in these challenging times. We’re open to looking for new models and ways of doing things. There’s potential for new models to:

  • focus on building resilience within the sector
  • engage larger audiences, including through digital channels
  • change how we value and support those in the arts ecosystem who are most vulnerable, our artists and arts practitioners
  • think about how we build public support for the arts and ngā toi, including how Creative New Zealand supports the sector.

What we’re going to do

We’ll focus on career development and sustainability so that we can support artists to build sustainable careers beyond project funding – with a greater focus on individual practitioners.

Over the next four years under this focus area, we plan to:

  • advance our sustainable careers work programme and monitor the sustainability of arts sector careers
  • develop a work programme aimed at improving the resilience of the arts sector, by which we mean the sector’s ability to respond and adapt to challenges, and to embrace opportunities
  • work with others to consider the need for longer-term systemic change to the way in which the arts sector is supported, including considering how we support independent artists and arts practitioners as the most vulnerable workers in the sector
  • develop new partnerships across the public and private sectors aimed at co-investment and improving sector sustainability
  • support the arts sector to maximise the opportunities associated with digital technologies.

Over 2022, we’ll continue to implement our Remuneration Policy for Artists and Arts Practitioners across our programmes and promote its uptake by others.

Access, inclusion, and equity

Why we’re focusing on this area

Underpinning our strategic direction for 2019–2029 is our purpose: To encourage, promote and support the arts in New Zealand for the benefit of all New Zealanders. We need to focus on how we achieve equitable outcomes for all New Zealanders through our support.

Increasingly, we’re being asked whether what we do is accessible to, and reflective of, the diverse communities of Aotearoa New Zealand. These include the Deaf and disability communities, LGBTQIA+ or rainbow communities, Asian New Zealanders and those representing younger New Zealanders.

We know from reporting on key elements of our Diversity in the Arts Policy that we have more work to do to improve the accessibility of our services, and the extent to which the work we support reflects New Zealand’s diverse communities.

We also need to gain a better understanding of what equity in the arts means and how can we achieve equitable outcomes for all New Zealanders through our support for the arts and ngā toi for Māori, Pasifika and New Zealand’s diverse communities.

Our discussion about equity needs to recognise the different places we start from and historic patterns of investment in the arts by the Government and us. These discussions must begin with consideration of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and our aspirations for how we’ll work in this context.

What we’re going to do

We’ll focus on how we achieve equitable outcomes for all New Zealanders through our support. We’ll consider how our support for the arts is inclusive of, and accessible to, New Zealand’s range of communities.

Over the next four years under this focus area, we plan to:

  • implement a programme of work aimed at ensuring our services are accessible to and reflective of different communities
  • review our Diversity in the Arts Policy to reflect a focus on equity
  • continue to develop an Accessibility Policy focused on Deaf and disabled artists, arts practitioners, tāngata whaikaha Māori and disability communities. The policy will contribute to ensuring our services are accessible to all New Zealanders and will focus on our systems, communications, data collection and research, visibility and promotion, physical access, and staff training
  • replace our funding portal with a new system that complies with current accessibility standards
  • continue with our change programme Te Kaupapa o Toi Aotearoa (the Creative New Zealand way) which aims to ensure we have the organisational culture, competencies and practices that will enable us to meet our aspirations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, adopt a multi-lensed approach to how we work, and ensure we deliver public value for all New Zealanders.


Why we’re focusing on this area

Through COVID-19, we’ve seen people turn to the arts as a source of solace and escape. This has helped increase awareness of the vital contribution arts and culture make to the wellbeing of all New Zealanders, but there is more to do.

The arts themselves have been hard hit, and this makes it more important than ever to embed a stronger recognition of their value to New Zealanders. This will help ensure that the arts, with artists at the centre, can flourish and play a vital role in our individual and collective wellbeing into the future.

What we’re going to do

In our Statement of Performance Expectations 2022/23, our overarching wellbeing priority for the next year is increasing our understanding of the role of the arts and ngā toi in contributing to the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

Some of our work in this space over the coming year includes:

  • developing a research approach to understanding the value of the arts and ngā toi to New Zealanders
  • delivering national arts advocacy campaigns and engagement, to help promote the positive wellbeing benefits of the arts to New Zealanders
  • delivering ongoing advocacy and work with local government, as major co-investors in the arts in Aotearoa New Zealand
  • articulating the positive impact of the arts on the social wellbeing of communities
  • supporting Te Rōpū Mana Toi (Creative New Zealand’s arts advocacy advisory group) to help prioritise and advance major advocacy work.  

Over the next four years under this focus area, we plan to:

  • develop new frameworks for measuring the impact of the arts and ngā toi on New Zealanders
  • embed a widespread recognition of the role of the arts and ngā toi in contributing to the wellbeing of New Zealanders
  • explore the potential for the arts and ngā toi to deliver to objectives across government, including in physical and mental health, education, justice, corrections, tourism and in our relationships with other countries.

Further information and queries

Links to further information:

Media queries: media@creativenz.govt.nz or 027 292 1589

For questions about Government investment in arts, culture, and heritage: please contact Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage, as New Zealand’s major funder of the arts, culture, and heritage sector: media@mch.govt.nz.

Frequently asked questions

Why focus on these three areas?

We’ve considered our long-term strategic direction (2019–2029) as well as what’s going on more broadly (strategically, operationally, financially) to come up with these three areas to focus on in the medium term:

  • Resilience, including sector sustainability and sustainable careers 
  • Access, inclusion and equity
  • Wellbeing

These areas are broad, but this speaks to the wide reach each has for the sector, New Zealanders, for us, and those who support us to do our work (including government).

COVID-19 has further impacted the arts sector’s ability to be resilient and highlighted that it’s even more difficult to sustain a viable arts sector career in these challenging times. We also need to focus on how we achieve equitable outcomes for all New Zealanders through our support. We also know the vital contribution arts and culture make to the wellbeing of all New Zealanders, especially during these times.

Sharpening our focus on these areas will contribute to lifting the sector out of the very challenging situation it continues to live through due to COVID-19, to our long-term goals and, ultimately, help us achieve our vision of Dynamic and resilient arts, valued in Aotearoa and internationally.

Is this a new Statement of Intent (SOI)? I thought your SOI was to see you through to 2029? 

We’ve not created a new SOI from scratch. Within our longer-term, 10-year strategic direction (set out in our SOI), we’ve refined where our focus for the next four years should be, considering the COVID-19 context the world is grappling with. We tested this with the arts community to make sure we’re on the right track. But we’re not starting from scratch.  

Feedback from the arts community in March 2022 helped inform the development of our Statement of Intent 2022–2026. 

What can you tell me about your plans to support the arts sector via funding opportunities this financial year?

Our investment for 2022/23 will be higher than pre-COVID times but will be less than the past three years (when we used our reserves to support the sector through our initial emergency response and received one-off funding support from the Government to deliver COVID-19 specific initiatives).

We’ll continue to offer a wide range of opportunities to the sector through our contestable funding programmes. Most funding programmes will remain the same as the 2021/22 financial year and deliver to our Investment Strategy – the key difference is the money available and a greater focus on supporting individual practitioners.

We shared our funding schedule in early June 2022 to allow the arts community the time to plan, in advance of initial openings in July.

The Statement of Intent we’ve released in July sets out where we’ll place our focus across all our work for the next four years.

We’ll finalise our budget (through to June 2023) in August 2022 following confirmation of our funding from the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board Te Puna Tahua.