November 23, 2021

Moving beyond Square One

Editor    posted 23 Nov 2021, 03:36 PM / edited 23 Nov 2021, 03:49 PM

From SCENE BY JAMES: When will Arts in Aotearoa get the Green Light? on Theatre Scenes, reproduced by permission to stimulate a Forum discussion.

(This follows James Wenley’s analysis of the impact Covid-19 and the Delta variant have had on the arts and culture sector, which in turn follows his response to Anders Falstie-Jensen’s Back to Square One? performed by Salesi Le’ota at the Tahi Festival 2021.)

After all this, what would it mean for the arts and culture sector if it found itself back at square one? Square one means low wages, a medium income for creative work of $15,000, and a third of creative workers lacking a financial safety net. As Cat Ruka remarks “severe financial hardship has become so synonymous with being an independent artist that we’ve come to accept it.” Square one means wellbeing challenges, burn out, and artists leaving the sector.

We need to move far beyond square one by investing in arts and culture for a more sustainable industry, to help us through the challenges of the pandemic environment.

The majority of New Zealanders recognise the value of the arts to provide individual and community connection, wellbeing, and meaning. As Colmar Brunton report, “The arts are making a powerful contribution to New Zealanders’ wellbeing, and are helping us get through COVID-19.”

So how do we avoid it? How can we get to the green light?

[Numbers have been added to facilitate discussion – ed.]

    Creative New Zealand could prioritise funding for vulnerable arts practitioners during all stages of the pandemic.

    Manatū Taonga could empower CNZ and its other funding organisations by handing over more of the ministry’s funding to better utilise existing capability and sector knowledge.

    Manatū Taonga could set up an underwriting scheme for smaller scale arts events.

    The Government could continue to make investments in the sector, guided by a national arts strategy, and develop our own basic guaranteed income for artists.

    Arts organisations (festivals, companies, venues) could fully embrace collaboration in 2022 by sharing resources, space, and people – giving freelance artists centre stage.

    Arts organisations could also commission and subsidise work for the red light setting.

    Next year, let’s make an abundance of intimate arts events that cater for under 100 people at a time.

Through it all, artists will remain nimble. Nurture ngā tangata, ngā toi will follow. 

Share on social