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$5m In Funding - Last CNZ Arts Grant Recipients Announced

18 Dec 2023

The end of Creative NZ's Arts Grants era sees 140 projects given the green light just before Christmas. We hear from some successful recipients and look at what happens to funding from here.

It's farewell to Creative New Zealand's (CNZ) long-debated but much-needed Arts Grants - with the final recipients of the format announced just before Christmas.

It's the last time the Arts Grants system is used before CNZ switches to the new For The Arts funding programme in 2024 (explained in detail here on The Big Idea).

In somewhat of an ironic twist, it was also the first Arts Grants model that was delivered in the fashion that the creative community has been calling out for - without the brutal application cap system (set to close at 250 applications - and 450 in the previous round - which saw rounds close within 24 hours of opening).

The two-month-long application window saw the round delivered in two parts - the final instalment just announced - with $5 million of funding distributed across 140 successful projects. All up, CNZ received more than 600 applications for the second part, comfortably making it the largest-ever Arts Grants round.

In all - with both parts of the round combined - 193 out of an eligible 846 projects were funded to a tune of $7,849,180 - the last of the money that came from the one-off $22m payment that CNZ received from Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage at the beginning of the year.

Gretchen La Roche, CNZ's Arts Development Services Senior Manager told The Big Idea of the final round figures, "The number of applications confirms what we already know, that the sector is active and wants to produce amazing work.  We are acutely aware that any programme we develop and offer will receive more applications than we are able to fund." 

Regional and underserved communities have a spotlight in this funding round - with 34 Ngā Toi Māori and 26 Pacific Arts projects funded, while nine projects with deaf/disabled artists have received support. 

Among those getting the good news before Christmas, Panacea Arts Charitable Trust will now be able to hold an exhibition celebrating the shared vision of disabled artists Ululau Ama and the late Sarah Holten, an international tour of inclusive aerial dance performance The Air Between Us by Chloe Loftus and Rodney Bell (image above) has been given the thumbs up, as well as and a theatre production by Pati Umaga, and a remount of the accessible production Spark LIVE by Glass Ceiling Arts Collective.

Seven funded projects cater directly to rangatahi including the Auckland Youth Choir who will be holding a 40th Anniversary concert, Launchpad who are set to run a series of creative talks with established Pasifika Artists and industry experts, and the Performing Arts and Young People Aotearoa who will run a 12-month programme of resources and opportunities to support the sector.

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Shivani Karan, Lane25, Los Angeles in 2022 attached (taken by Anthony Ryan Johnson, 2022) attached.

Shivani Karan and Allana Goldsmith (Ngati Porou, Ngai Tai) have been given the green light for Voyaging with Muriwai. They told The Big Idea "This means a lot to us, it will give us the opportunity to create new and innovative art based in the digital realm and develop our art forms in spaces that are pushing the boundaries of storytelling and art. We are honoured and grateful to be able to dedicate our time to this kaupapa.

"Traditionally our connections to our ancestors are through stories passed down orally by the knowledge holders in our communities. We aim to explore how these stories can be imagined and preserved in VR for current and future generations to experience. It is a high priority that this mahi reaches the communities that we represent.

"We hope this project will benefit all audiences in Aotearoa and beyond with knowledge and appreciation for Māori stories connected to land and ancestry. It also benefits us as artists, sustaining our careers and allowing us to develop and evolve our practice."

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Nic Davies, Rock Bottom project. Photo: Evelyn Coulson.

Ranglan's Nic Davies was another celebrating positive funding news. He told The Big Idea "What awesome news to be given the green light on my project ‘Rock Bottom’: A solo children's circus theatre show. My intention for this show is to create a fun and accessible experience, set in a familiar backyard setting. Through clowning and acrobatics, it celebrates failure and delves into basic emotional management strategies like breathing and connecting to place.

"With this funding, I will be able to bring together a wonderful team of Thom Monckton (director), Jeremy Mayall (composer) and Hayley Robertson (production designer) to develop the show and give a public performance to the community of Whāingaroa/Raglan. 

"This show is being designed to fit into a trailer so it can access primary schools and community groups around the country, especially in the more remote/ rural areas. As a result, I hope that children who don't normally get to see shows will have the opportunity to have a laugh and also reflect on ways to manage themselves when overwhelmed - two skills I have found to be essential for any stage of life!

"The application was a big job, including forming my team, personal explorative residencies and community outreach to discover what is really relevant for young people. This process took me on a journey to centering a show around concepts and story rather than its tricks, which leaves me feeling excited and nervous: two good ingredients for any adventure! To receive this grant has been very humbling, the support of my team, community and family have made it happen and I thank them all so much for that!"

Even though it produced more than $100 million in funding over 14 years, the end of the Arts Grant era will be welcomed by many. But La Roche recognises that getting their heads around the new funding model, which will open early in 2024, will take time for some creatives.

"Any change is unsettling. Arts grants have been in place for many years, but the sector told us the model wasn’t working. We got clear and consistent messages about what the sector wanted and the new programmes are our response to those messages. 

"We launched the funds with webinars and Q+A sessions. People can see information on the website and watch a recording of the webinar.

In the new year, we’ll publish a fund calendar and people will be able to book time with our artform specialists to talk about which funds will meet their needs. We’re also doing more online workshops and holding kanohi-ki-te-kanohi sessions around the country to answer questions about the programmes and how to apply."  

The For The Arts model is split into eight new programmes, aimed at early career artists, artists and practitioners, and arts organisations and groups. 

“We’ve moved from a focus on investing in projects to investing in people. These changes have been made to support artists to be able to take more risks. We want to provide greater flexibility for artists who we know need different things at different times.

"The new programmes give artists the chance to pick a funding programme that meets their needs and leads to the desired impact. For example, an early career artist who wants to develop their skills won’t apply for the same fund as an organisation that wants to deliver a programme of work. We can help artists determine where they will fit best."  

You can find which projects received the final round of Arts Grant funding here.