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$20 Million & Counting - Arts & Culture Support Stats Revealed

Street Performance in Christchurch. Photo: Shutterstock.
The Government has just released details of how many creative events, organisations and workers have been covered by the COVID recovery plan.

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It’s hardly headline news that COVID cancellations have wreaked havoc with performances and livelihoods.

But data just released shows the extent of support required for Aotearoa’s creative community - at least the amount that was compensated by the Government. 

It’s been revealed that 295 events - covering at least 607 performances -  that had to be cancelled or suffered losses due to COVID-19 have had their costs reimbursed. The combined bill is a substantial one - with total support paid out to those events now exceeding $20 million.

Other key stats made public today:

  •     186 future events in 2022 and 2023 have also received cover
  •     64 organisations have been saved from imminent closure
  •     1253 self-employed workers in the arts and culture sector have received specific support

Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Carmel Sepuloni states “results show a sector that is on the path to a promising recovery. Our Government’s efforts to support organisations and people who work in the cultural sector survive the impacts of COVID-19 is beginning to pay dividends.”

Sepuloni singled out the arrival of the Omicron variant as particularly challenging, highlighted by the $121 million arts and culture Omicron emergency fund. 

“This support has protected jobs, kept many organisations from closing and cushioned the blow for the arts and culture sector.  

“Each dollar of support goes toward keeping this important cultural and economic ecosystem viable, protecting jobs and providing opportunities for artists, crew, venues, set designers, costumers, managers, social service providers, art therapists, ticketing agents and many more who work in the sector. 

“These are real people who make a living from delivering arts and cultural experiences.”

While touting the “critical” support to protect Aotearoa’s cultural infrastructure, Sepuloni also singled out the future event planning that became part of the post Omicron focus.

“There are nearly 200 future events currently covered by the Arts and Culture Event Support Scheme. These eligible events can continue to plan with confidence that if conditions change and they need to cancel or postpone due to COVID-19 public health restrictions, they’ll be supported to pay artists and crew lined up to work those events.”  

Sepuloni regularly spruiks the financial worth of the Arts and Culture sector, bringing in approximately $10.9 billion to the New Zealand economy, making up about 3.4% of GDP.

But it’s the creative community’s contribution to Aotearoa’s individual and community wellbeing that she sees as an important part of the nation’s recovery. 

“The wider Arts and Culture COVID recovery programme goes beyond helping the sector just survive the impacts of the pandemic, it includes initiatives designed with the future in mind. 

“They encourage innovation, resilience and building stronger community arts and culture networks so that all people across the country can access, participate in and enjoy arts and culture at all levels. 

“However, COVID-19 is not over, and the arts and culture sector will need to continue to adapt to new challenges such as reduced audiences, uncertainty, and financial insecurity. 

“The Government is assessing how to use the remaining funding more effectively to drive shifts in the sector to best support recovery, rebuilding and resilience.” 

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

12 May 2022

The Big Idea Editor