05 Jun 2024

This content is tagged as Creative NZ .


All in for arts Blenheim
All in for Arts 2024.

One of the highlights of our advocacy work is the annual roadshow All in for Arts - He Waka Toi e eke noa nei tātou delivered in partnership with the Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi. 

We’ve just completed the fourth iteration of a programme of 10 uplifting and inspiring breakfast events around the country, where the kaupapa is much bigger than what happens in the room...

What we heard on the road

One of the best things about All in for Arts is listening to perspectives and stories from communities around the motu about the value of creativity to them. Five speakers give short personal speeches at each event. They’re often funny, sometimes surprising, sometimes artistic, and sometimes move you to tears.

It’s a diverse range of voices connected by universal human experiences of creativity. We heard from Arts Laureates, students, entrepreneurs, mayors and even a former All Black turned ceramic artist with a day-job as a real estate agent. 

The kaupapa is positive, but that doesn’t mean speakers can’t lay down a challenge or call for change – in fact it’s better if they do. We then share their words far and wide with the public, local leaders and decision-makers.

Over 56 personal speeches on the impact of creativity, we heard some clear themes emerge. Here’s an overview on what those were:

  1. We felt a sense of a growing cultural confidence in Aotearoa: There is a renewed sense of cultural confidence in New Zealand, with this year’s speakers showcasing examples of exceptional local creativity. This surge in confidence is shifting away from historic feelings of cultural inferiority and highlights the unique cultural perspectives of Aotearoa; best exemplified in the depth and richness of ngā toi Māori. However, this is backed up by the message that sustained support and resources remain crucial for artists to thrive.

    "We have a unique way of seeing the world – I think that stems from the old number 8 wire mentality, and our cultural influence. We're a long way from anywhere, and we only have a small population at the bottom of the South Pacific. So we need to be extra awesome to stand out. And creativity is essential to that." - Kees Meeuws, ceramic artist, real estate agent, former All Black

  2. Creativity as a tool for wellbeing: New Zealanders recognise that creativity is vital for wellbeing and fostering community connection. Art validates our shared challenges, reflects our identities, and adds richness to our lives. Many of our speakers highlighted the essential role of creativity in mental and emotional health. These stories reinforce what we’ve found in our research, where the majority of New Zealanders believe that the arts are good for mental health and wellbeing.

    “Art and creativity is so enriching to students' wellbeing and spirit... I know in my own personal experience creativity has helped me through grief and stress and all the rough parts of life... my dream is that one day our community and our country as a whole begin to appreciate the power of art and the strength it has to unite people of all backgrounds.”- Bethany Graf, secondary school student at Wakatipu High School

  3. The broad economic impact of creativity: Creativity transcends sectors. We heard from people working in conservation, mental health, real estate, hospitality, and digital innovation. We heard how creativity is important in each sector in driving innovation, inspiring leadership and in tackling challenges like social cohesion and climate change. Again, our research backs this up; a growing majority of New Zealanders agree that the arts contribute positively to the economy, with a recent study finding that the arts and creative sector contributes $16.3 billion to New Zealand’s GDP.

    "The arts and creative sector contribute 4.3% to New Zealand's GDP. For perspective, agriculture makes up 3.6% of GDP. If agriculture is the backbone of Aotearoa, what does that make arts and culture?" Andrei Moore, Christchurch City Councillor
Māori woman in glasses, trees and sunlight behind her
Writer, screenwriter and director Briar Grace-Smith speaks at All in for Arts in Blenheim

Why this is important

Aside from being an inspiring way to start the day, All in for Arts helps to bring local communities together and grow the whānau of arts advocates. It's part of our work to build a movement of arts advocates where collective advocacy is effective advocacy.

The roadshow delivers to both aims of our advocacy programme which are to promote the value of the arts and support the arts sector to make the case for art, culture, creativity and ngā toi.

Not every artist has the capacity to be an advocate, and they shouldn't have to be (they’re busy making art) that’s why it’s important that arts organisations and other champions help fill that supporting role.

All in for Arts is also a chance for our engaging MC, Arts Foundation Kaiwhakahaere Jessica Palalagi, to share some practical advice about building support for art, culture, creativity and ngā toi with attendees. Jessica always goes further than spreading her love of buying merch by encouraging people to vote for arts-friendly representatives, talk to friends and family, engage with decision-makers, and prioritise creative experiences for their children. 

Ultimately, the stories heard on the road help remind people of why we need to keep supporting art and artists and to spread the message that the best way to do this is together. That’s a call to action we’re working to spread around, including with local Councilors and MPs. While New Zealanders are feeling the benefits of our creative sector, there’s more work to be done to ensure that artists have the support they need to thrive. 

Jessica Palalagi
Arts Foundation Kaiwhakahaere/General Manager Jessica Palalagi was the MC at all 10 events

Working with local government

All in for Arts also fuels our local government advocacy. It’s a chance to let Mayors and councillors know what their communities have to say about arts and culture – whilst also giving attendees a chance to hear what some of their local leaders think about creativity. In some cases, locals haven’t heard their mayor’s views on art and creativity in their town.

We’re just wrapping up a period of close engagement with local councils around the country, with 15 bespoke submissions made to annual and long-term planning processes over the last few months, and 4 submissions presented in person. These submissions are a chance to reflect what we’ve heard on the road back to local decision-makers.

All this work is important because local government are big funders of the arts –collectively more so than central government. Many local councils are currently experiencing cost pressures and infrastructure challenges that risk diverting investment away from arts and culture initiatives. It’s a tricky balancing act for councils, but we’ve been working to remind councils of the value of the arts – encouraging them to think of art, culture and creativity as social infrastructure that delivers wellbeing to their communities.

As Tauranga commissioner Anne Tolley said in her speech “Roads, housing and infrastructure make a city liveable. Arts, culture and creativity make a city a place you want to live.”

Tory Whanau
Audience members at the final event in Wellington at the Beehive, including Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau

More arts advocacy is in the works...

All in for Arts is just one part of our advocacy mahi. Right now, we’re working on how to tell the complex story of the New Zealand’s arts funding system. If we can clearly illuminate how the current system works, we hope this will support others in their advocacy around what isn’t working so well, and how the system might function better or evolve over time.

We’re also working on more impactful ways to share the value of art, culture, creativity and ngā toi with public audiences. We’ve done public campaigns in the past, like the Thankful for Art campaign during Covid, the Creative Wellbeing series, and more recently the Art Work series. We’re planning more activity like this, wrapped-up under a unified message about how creativity makes us who we are: as individuals, communities and as a nation.

Keep an eye out for more about both these projects in the coming months. In the meantime, if you want a bit more of a flavour of All in for Arts: 

For more on the advocacy work of Creative New Zealand, find out about how we advocate, or explore our advocacy tools and research