Optimism arts sector will bounce back from Covid-19 blues

12:04 pm on 14 April 2020

The country's arts development agency, Creative New Zealand, said despite the current challenges it faced the sector was showing signs of a creative revival.

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Photo: 123RF/ RNZ /Leigh Rau

The arts, theatre and television industry has been especially hard-hit by the sudden economic downturn linked to Covid-19.

Applications open today for funding from Creative New Zealand's $16 million emergency response package, announced last month.

A senior manager, Cath Cardiff, said judging by the fresh ideas emerging on social media, she was hopeful of a strong response.

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Cath Cardiff Photo: Provided

"You just have to be on Facebook for five minutes and you see all these marvellous new initiatives popping up, both from our existing client base and also from outside of that.

"My expectation is that the sector will respond, and very creatively to the situation, and will provide a lot of value to the public in a very difficult time."

Cardiff said she was looking forward to seeing what would emerge.

"There's a lot of emphasis on what's happening with sport at the moment, and yet there's a huge amount that our sector is contributing to everybody's wellbeing."

Cardiff said the multi million-dollar package was the result of a significant amount of work to re-allocate the agency's funding.

"We've completely re-allocated all our funding opportunities, towards a response to the situation, so that's a pretty significant move on our part.

"We've been working very hard over the past two weeks to get these programmes up with appropriate criteria, instruction and information to the sector on how they go about applying."

Cardiff said artists who had re-framed projects to suit the current environment could now seek assistance that might sustain their practice.

The first phase of the Emergency Response Package has two components, including resilience grants for eligible artists, arts practitioners, arts groups and arts organisations (non-investment clients) to help them recover, maintain and develop their practices.

The second offered short-term relief for existing investment clients (the organisations currently receiving multi-year funding), to help them stabilise their businesses and remain viable.

Creative New Zealand chief executive Stephen Wainwright said the agency had worked closely with Work and Income to align its support through the emergency relief grant with the wage subsidy on offer.

"Our current guidelines include pay rates of at least $25 per hour for artists and arts practitioners and so we are 'topping up' the amount of the WINZ payment to meet that threshold.

"Given the rapidly changing circumstances, we'll continue to monitor the situation and reassess the need and level of our emergency support," Wainwright said.

Creative New Zealand continued to work with the government through the Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage to better understand how the government's economic recovery package could help the sector, and to help the government understand the impact of Covid-19 on the arts sector.

Creative New Zealand's governing body, the Arts Council, said it expected to be able to announce a second phase of support, from 1 July.

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