4 Feb 2024

The future of arts funding with Creative New Zealand boss Stephen Wainwright 

From Culture 101, 2:30 pm on 4 February 2024
Stephen Wainwright

Stephen Wainwright Photo: supplied

Aotearoa’s central arts funding body, Creative New Zealand is majorly overhauling its funding structure, with eight new funds to open between March and August. The change follows the arts council’s admission its current arts grant system is no longer fit for purpose.  

The overhaul includes what many in the arts have been calling for: funding streams based around supporting artists to create, that aren’t dependent on final project production.

The restructure has been received warmly by the arts sector. 

It’s the sort of good news Creative New Zealand chief executive, Stephen Wainwright, probably needs right now. Recent years have no doubt brought plenty of stress. 

Covid-19 and the rising cost of living have put the arts and culture sector under enormous strain. Meanwhile a record number of grant applications in the last year has left a record number of artists not able to be funded. CNZ has also indicated it will have less funding to give out this year. 

Then, there have been the headlines. Criticism of funding decisions have featured often in the press in the last 18 months, including theatre production of Tusiata Avia’s The Savage Coloniser, the Shakespeare Globe Centre and digital business network, We Are Indigo. Then there was an official censure for Wainwright when CNZ staff were left upset and stranded at Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland airport by their leaders during the January floods last year.

Wainwright steps down from his role later this year; experienced at both weathering public controversy and considering the best way to support artists. He’s been at the arts council for some 33 years. The last 17 as the boss.  

Stephen Wainwright joins Mark Amery on RNZ’s Culture 101.