23 Nov 2023

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New Mirrors

Today we’re launching New Mirrors, a report from independent researchers Rosabel Tan and Dr James Wenley, that provides insights into challenges within the current arts and culture media ecosystem in Aotearoa. The report also offers recommendations on what could be done to strengthen the ecosystem.

New Mirrors is a companion to the recently released Visibility Matters – Kia kitea ngā toi e te marea research, released in June 2023. The New Mirrors report and its recommendations are based on insights from 52 interviews with arts and media professionals, including editors, journalists, artists, publicists and commissioners, and has been supported by an advisory of experts that reflect these different roles.

The report emphasises that both the media and culture sectors are under-resourced and under strain, which has built a national deficit in arts and culture coverage over time. Significant digital transformation of the media landscape over the past 20 years has led to a significant drop in journalist numbers and, within this, arts and culture coverage has been deprioritised – with very few dedicated reporting roles left. This has affected regional New Zealand disproportionately.

The report suggests addressing the national deficit by focusing on three key areas:

  • Telling stronger stories – by investing in both media and publicity and communications roles within the cultural sectors.

  • Building a media landscape that reflects Aotearoa New Zealand – by developing culturally supportive media organisations that can confidently report on a range of different worldviews and lived experiences — with a particular focus on our regions where media needs the greatest growth.

  • Deepening understanding between our media and cultural ecologies – by investing in more informed and collaborative working relationships across these two sectors, rebuilding the trust that has been eroded over the years — which in turn has contributed to the erosion of arts and culture coverage.

The recommendations proposed in the report are based on both international research and wide-ranging dialogue with people working across the wider media and arts and culture sectors. They are:

  • Creating a specialised fund for arts and culture media projects - increasing our ability to tell stronger stories and contributing to a media landscape that reflects Aotearoa.

  • Creating an ‘Arts Media Centre’ - an independent body that connects our media and creative sectors – to deepen understanding between our media and cultural ecologies, as well as deepening our ability to tell stronger stories.

“We welcome the report’s insights and recommendations and thank everyone involved. New Mirrors brings attention to long-standing issues that we, alongside the sector, have been aware of, but until now have not had the data or detailed understanding to address. The report shines a light on these issues, gathers insights and tests solutions, which enables us to have informed and strategic conversations,” says Tracey Monastra, Manager, Advocacy. 

“We are one of a number of organisations that has an interest in strengthening arts and culture media in Aotearoa New Zealand. We’re committed to working alongside other government agencies to explore the opportunities, over the coming months.”

Creative New Zealand wants to play a role in strengthening arts and culture media coverage in Aotearoa; to see a more visible arts and culture sector, where a depth of artists’ voices are reflected across New Zealand’s media landscape. There is a clear relationship between strong arts and culture media coverage and a thriving creative sector. Media act as a crucial bridge between artists and the public.

“It’s alarming how stretched both our media and cultural sectors are. We’re seeing restructure after restructure, cutbacks, burnout and unsustainable salaries,” says Rosabel Tan, independent researcher, creative producer and report author. “But this is essential work. Artists offer glimpses of other lives, of the past, of our many possible futures. Their work often grapples with big questions. They require big conversations. And media coverage of that work enables us to have those conversations as a nation— which is especially vital for a country that is as young and multicultural as Aotearoa New Zealand. It’s how we tell the story of who we are, and who we want to be”.

“The value and contribution that our arts media can make is being held back by a lack of attention, resources and strategic focus. It is time we change this. We issue a challenge to the incoming Government and our funding bodies, our media platforms and publishers, our artists and the organisations that support them to seize this opportunity to strengthen our arts and culture media and coverage. With investment and collaboration, we can tell stronger stories together that better reflect Aotearoa New Zealand’s incredible creative landscape.” says James Wenley, academic, theatremaker and report author. 

Creative New Zealand acknowledges and thanks the report authors Rosabel Tan and Dr. James Wenley for their work on the report and the insights it provides; we also mihi to the many artists, publicists, editors, writers, commissioners and journalists that contributed to this crucial piece of work; and the report’s advisory group who guided the work: Matariki Williams, Lana Lopesi, Tama Waipara, Karl Chitham, Vanessa Immink, Siobhan Waterhouse, Mark Amery, Rebecca Fox, Amie Mills and Frances Morton.

You can read the full New Mirrors report here