December 23, 2022

Editor    posted 16 Oct 2022, 11:44 AM

CNZ decision to defund Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand

Top Auckland Uni English Professor slams move to defund Shakespeare festival

NZ Herald 15 Oct, 2022 07:35 PM

A top Auckland University English Professor has written a highly-critical letter to the chief executive of a government agency that cut funding to a school Shakespeare festival on the basis it represents a “canon of imperialism”.

The decision by Creative NZ to not renew funding for the Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival, an annual event where school students perform excerpts from the bard’s plays, has sparked controversy both in New Zealand and abroad.

For the past decade, Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand has received about $30,000 per year for the festival from Creative NZ.

University of Auckland Emeritus Professor of English Michael Neill, of Mt Eden, wrote an open letter to Creative NZ describing the move as “highly questionable” and “ill-considered”. [More

Editor    posted 17 Oct 2022, 10:27 AM / edited 17 Oct 2022, 10:30 AM

Teacher defends Shakespeare after Creative NZ funding cut

From Morning Report, 8:10 am 17 Oct 2022

“To be or not to be?”, that is the question, and as far as Shakespeare is concerned, Creative New Zealand says the answer is “not”.

The arts funding body has pulled its support from a popular Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival, which has been running for the past few decades for high-school students, who perform extracts from Shakespeare’s plays.

Creative New Zealand ruled the Bard is “located within a canon of imperialism” and simply isn’t relevant for a “decolonising Aotearoa”.

Tania Roxborogh is an author and high school teacher who says the decision is misguided.

Morning Report invited Creative New Zealand to come on the programme but they were not available until 10am.

Listen duration7′ :56″

Editor    posted 17 Oct 2022, 04:50 PM

Kiwi incorporating Māori culture in Shakespeare hits out at decision to pull funding for school competition 

A young man who got the chance to perform at the iconic Globe theatre in London is lashing out at Creative New Zealand’s decision not to fund a school Shakespeare competition.

The Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand runs an annual competition where high schools across Aotearoa perform scenes from the author’s plays. 

One Kiwi who got his lucky break is Mahanga Mitchell who travelled to London to perform at The Globe theatre thanks to the organisation. 

Mitchell is among those criticising Creative NZ’s decision to decline the funding proposal of $31,000 which would go towards funding the centre from 2023 to 2025. [More]

Note: The reference to $31,000 is inaccurate. The rejected application was for $100K+ for each of the 3 years to cover a range of crucial costs.

Editor    posted 17 Oct 2022, 05:04 PM / edited 17 Oct 2022, 05:05 PM

Bowalley Road  


IT IS DIFFICULT to see the Arts Council’s decision to defund Shakespeare as anything other than “propaganda of the deed”. In the current, unusually tense, cultural climate, the idea that a decision to refuse a $30,000 grant to an organisation responsible for introducing the art of William Shakespeare to a total of 120,000 (and counting) secondary school students might, somehow, pass unnoticed and unremarked is nonsensical. The notion that the Council’s decision was a carefully targeted ideological strike is further buttressed by the comments attached to its refusal. To describe these as incendiary hardly does them justice.

Every year the Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival invites secondary school students to compete for the best interpretation of an excerpt drawn from a Shakespeare play. To date, upwards of 120,000 students have participated in this hugely popular competition. While the Arts Council’s support accounts for only a tenth of the festival’s budget, its decision to deny this year’s funding application was couched in language that has outraged English teachers, English scholars, and educated English-speakers, both here in New Zealand and around the world.

According to The Guardian, the arts funding body, Creative New Zealand, in its advisory panel’s funding assessment document, stated that: “while the festival has strong youth engagement, and a positive impact on participants”, it “did not demonstrate the relevance to the contemporary art context of Aotearoa in this time and place and landscape”.

Putting to one side the self-evident reality that a festival involving thousands of young people in acting, directing, set-designing and painting, costuming, composing and providing incidental music to a host of independent theatrical productions, offers an unassailable prima facie case for being of great relevance to New Zealand’s “contemporary art context”: how should we decode the assessment document’s gnomic formulation: “Aotearoa in this time and place and landscape”? [More]  

John Smythe      posted 17 Oct 2022, 05:14 PM

I texted this to RNZ’s THE PANEL in response to the host’s provocative comments about the relevance of the Regional and National University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival:

The Shakespeare Festival is about creative cooperation, exploring themes totally relevant to young people and co-opting timeless and universal stories to reflect contemporary life. It also orientates young people to the value of the arts which is absolutely within Creative NZ’s remit.

Editor    posted 17 Oct 2022, 06:34 PM

‘Complete knobs’: Shakespeare festival funding cut slammed  

Otago Daily Times, Monday, 17 October 2022

Top Kiwi actors Sir Sam Neill, Robyn Malcolm and Michael Hurst have slammed Creative NZ’s defunding of the Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival. 

Malcolm called the agency “complete knobs”, while Neill said it made New Zealand “look bloody stupid”. 

Their comments come after a highly-critical letter by University of Auckland English Emeritus Professor Michael Neill to the agency’s chief executive, saying the cut in funding of the annual school Shakespeare festival was “highly questionable” and “ill-considered”. 

“With respect, if you decide to cancel the greatest writer in English, or any language come to that, you sound like a f***ing idiot. And you make NZ-Aotearoa look bloody stupid,” Sam Neill said. [More

Editor    posted 19 Oct 2022, 09:48 AM


18 Oct 2022 

A joint statement from Creative New Zealand Chief Executive Stephen Wainwright and Arts Council Chair Caren Rangi:

We’re pleased to hear that the Ministry of Education (MoE) has agreed to work with Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand (SGCNZ) to find the funding that SGCNZ originally sought from Creative New Zealand.

The Government has recognised that the MoE is better placed to provide this funding.

This highlights the positive impact that additional government investment can have on the arts.

While it’s great that a solution has been found for this one organisation, questions remain about other arts organisations and individual artists who find it difficult to mobilise or who don’t have the international pulling power to draw attention to their funding needs.

It also unfortunately doesn’t change the reality for Creative New Zealand that we’re still facing an unprecedented deluge and there are big issues around the sustainability of arts funding in Aotearoa.

This is a great outcome for SGCNZ, but we’ve found some of the rhetoric over the last few weeks alarming, misleading and racist. We would like to take this opportunity to address and clear up some of these things. For those who have contacted us with questions over the past couple of days we offer this statement in response. 

Creative New Zealand does not hate Shakespeare. We support Shakespeare productions and we support Shakespeare being in schools. We simply can’t meet the demand for our funding, and hard decisions need to be made.

Here are the facts:

Sixty-two organisations submitted proposals to our Kahikatea programme for funding from 2023 to 2025. Fifty-eight proposals were successful. We have a limited amount of money to invest, and we had to make some tough decisions. Unfortunately for Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand (SGCNZ), their proposal wasn’t as strong as others and didn’t align with the Kahikatea programme requirements, and so they missed out this time around. Under their current contract (through to December 2022), they receive $31,827 a year. SGCNZ have guaranteed (transitional) funding from us until June next year and had been told about other Creative New Zealand funding options available to them.

Let’s break that down: 

The Toi Uru Kahikatea investment programme that SGCNZ applied to is contestable funding – in other words, applicants compete for funding because there’s only so much money to go around. It lasts for three years and at the end of that time, organisations in the programme need to reapply.

SGCNZ is part of a lineage of exceptional artwork and no one disputes that they do good work or make an important contribution. However, because an organisation has been funded for many years, does not mean they are entitled to continued funding without going through due process. As a Crown entity we need to run fair, transparent processes. 

Creative New Zealand has not “cancelled Shakespeare in schools” nor did we “defund” SGCNZ. Their bid for Creative New Zealand funding towards organisational support was unsuccessful within a group of other stronger proposals that were more closely aligned with our strategic and funding priorities.  

Let’s talk about how we make funding decisions: 

It’s our privilege to support the creation and presentation of New Zealand art across multiple artforms as part of our core role. However, we don’t have the money to fund everyone. This means that many talented artists, groups and organisations often miss out. Now especially, we’re under enormous, unprecedented pressure with more organisations and individuals requesting funding, and less money to give out. 

We make funding decisions with input from the sector. That means we contract artists and arts practitioners outside of Creative New Zealand to evaluate applications and make recommendations. We use the terms ‘external peer assessors’ and ‘assessment panels’. We do a series of checks and balances ourselves before our Chief Executive or the Arts Council make final decisions. For this particular process, the Arts Council received advice from arts practitioners, input from our staff, and recommendations from the Chief Executive, before deliberating on the issues and opportunities and reaching final decisions.

We ask the arts practitioners who provide assessment on proposals to be constructive in their feedback, but we do need them to be able to comment on an application freely and honestly. Many people have taken exception with some of the comments made about SGCNZ’s proposal. These comments have been taken out of context; they were a small component of a thorough decision-making process.  

We also want to address racially-charged rhetoric. 

It’s always a good thing when arts news inspires open conversation, robust debate, and new ideas. Not everyone will agree, and that’s a part of a healthy democracy – of which the arts play a crucial role. 

However, we’re appalled that some of the criticism has become about race.

Much of this commentary has been cruel and hurtful to Māori and Pasifika artists whose funding proposals were successful.

We challenge the narrative that our decision was driven by reverse racism and that we are the “cultural Taliban”. Creative New Zealand’s mandate is to fund New Zealand made work within the limited resources we have.

We also take exception to Creative New Zealand’s frontline staff being targeted with hate mail – they don’t make funding decisions. As a Crown entity, we welcome feedback on our decisions, and these can be directed to us: and


Editor    posted 19 Oct 2022, 09:51 AM


Jake Kenny, Oct 18, 2022

The cutting of funding for a renowned Shakespeare school programme has prompted one overarching question: Is the world’s most famous wordsmith being cancelled?

Claims from a Creative New Zealand assesor that the playwright is “locked within a canon of imperialism” and is not relevant to Aotearoa drew international headlines and condemnation.

The Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand’s Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival has hosted more than 140,000 teenagers over three decades – with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Hollywood actor Melanie Lynskey among those to have taken part.

Cutting the approximate $30,000 in funding per year prompted Ardern to say she does “not agree with all funding decisions” and that she hoped it was not the end of the matter.

On Tuesday the Government stepped in, with Ardern saying the Ministry of Education would foot the bill.

Within hours of that announcement, Creative NZ responded to the criticism it has faced, blasting the “racist rhetoric” directed at the agency in the last two days.

Why are people unhappy with the funding cut decision? [More]

Editor    posted 19 Oct 2022, 09:41 PM

The fuss over Shakespeare is a distraction from the real scandal of arts funding 

James Wenley,, Oct 18 2022

(Dr James Wenley is a lecturer in theatre at Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington.)  

Aotearoa’s arts sector has scraped through tough pandemic years only to be warned to brace for further belt-tightening.  

In July 2022, Stephen Wainwright the chief executive of the Government’s arts funding and development agency Creative New Zealand (CNZ), advised that “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”.  

Already the arts sector is reeling from the impact of CNZ’s constrained finances.  

The denial of funding for Shakespeare Globe Centre NZ has made international headlines, but this controversy is diverting attention away from the real scandal: CNZ has not been given enough money to meet the needs of Aotearoa’s arts sector as it rebuilds from the pandemic. [More

Editor    posted 20 Oct 2022, 09:00 PM / edited 24 Oct 2022, 01:25 PM

The Sheilah Winn saga: Much ado about funding 

From The Detail,  

Emile Donovan,, co-host of The Detail 

There’s been a huge outcry over Creative New Zealand’s decision to turn down a funding application from the organisation that runs a high school Shakespeare festival. But was the Bard really going to be cancelled? 

Listen duration24′ :14″

Editor    posted 29 Nov 2022, 05:58 PM / edited 29 Nov 2022, 05:59 PM

Grey and in the way: Creative NZ decision met with disbelief 

A Creative New Zealand assessor with an apparent disregard for ageing middle-class audiences has helped torpedo funding for a touring arts programme

Music and theatre lovers in small towns around the country are challenging a decision by Creative NZ to scrap their only regular provider of the performing arts.

More than 2000 people have signed a petition this month demanding the Government reinstate core funding for the Arts on Tour programme.

Petition organiser Loretta Bush, from Alexandra, says turning off the funding tap is a slap in the face for rural New Zealand.

“It suggests we’re irrelevant, invisible and undeserving of high-quality cultural experiences,” Bush says. [More]

Editor    posted 1 Dec 2022, 09:41 AM / edited 1 Dec 2022, 09:55 AM


Lucy Marinkovich on being rejected as an artist despite your excellence | 

Lucy Marinkovich is a Pōneke based dance artist and choreographer. She codirects Borderline Arts Ensemble with Lucien Johnson. She is an Arts Foundation Tu Tumu Toi awarded artist. 

A fact of life: no one likes being rejected. As a professional artist, it’s inevitable you will cultivate an intimate relationship with rejection. I recently received an email that translated as the ultimate of break-up lines: “It’s not you, it’s me.” I’m usually quick to self-deprecate, but for once I believed them. 

I’m one of many swept into the maelstrom of Aotearoa’s arts funding crisis. A storm of neglect that’s been brewing for decades, whose waves of reckoning started to crest long before the pandemic hit. Recently I applied to Creative New Zealand for an annual arts grant on behalf of Borderline Arts Ensemble.  [More]  

Editor    posted 18 Dec 2022, 09:14 AM


Sam Trubridge 

Dominion Post, Dec 15 2022 

Sam Trubridge is director of The Performance Arcade and other theatre, dance, and live art projects with 25 years experience working in New Zealand and overseas. 

Artists are good at metaphors. We know their power, and we also know their dangers. Metaphors can become potent tools for cultural critique, or they can backfire on us. 

Creative NZ named its funds for our more established arts organisations, Toi Uru Kahikatea and Toi Tōtara Haemata, after trees. At CNZ workshops we’ve been furnished with glowing descriptions of our arts ecology as a thriving native forest – chirping birds, fresh undergrowth, taller saplings, leaf litter, and above everything else those two towering ngahere. 

But all is not well in the woods, as recent press suggests. [More]

John Smythe      posted 23 Dec 2022, 09:57 AM / edited 23 Dec 2022, 10:23 AM

Published in the Dominion Post, 23/12/22  

Justice for the Arts sector  

The news that Creative NZ is set to review its services (Dec 22) is welcome. The planed procedure outlined in Andre Chumko’s report is comprehensive – and time consuming.  

   Concerns about the current prescriptive, anti-creative and arguably unjust process need to be addressed. The major issue, however, is insufficient funding for a sector which is brimming with talent and essential to our social and economic wellbeing. The immediate question, then, is how will the review be funded?  

   Who will be paid to participate and who will be expected to donate their time and expertise? Will Creative NZ be expected to pay for it out of its existing budget allocation? Will the cost include even more staff and contractors than the vast number it already employs?

   If so, our creative arts practitioners will, yet again, be subsidising a bureaucracy that would not even exist if it wasn’t for them. Where will the justice be in that?  

John Smythe, Mount Victoria

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