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Arts Voices: Election Up in the Air, Issues Crystal Clear

13 Aug 2020
Our series delving into what matters to the creative community in election year finds a common theme.

They say a week is a long time in politics - ‘they’ weren’t wrong.

Since we first started the Arts Voices series, the focus has shifted quickly from what will decide the election to will the election even happen this year? All in a matter of days.

The second wave of COVID-19 is a kick in the guts to everyone, especially those in Auckland right now. To see the rug pulled out from under so many creatives again - just as they were refinding their feet - is hard to take.

So while the short term focus rightfully goes on making sure 'The Lockdown Part 2' gets the usual sequel treatment and leaves less of an impression than the original - that doesn’t diminish from the need to talk about the issues facing the sector.

There may be debate about when the election will take place, but when it does, what topics are important to the arts and creative community to help them decide where their votes will go?

Arts Voices is a series where we canvas creatives of Aotearoa to get their thoughts - and we’ve posed the following question - What matters the most to the creative arts community ahead of this year's election?

After some strong opinions in our opening instalment, we continue to find out what is in the mind of our diverse sector - and there is one common theme emerging - the call for the artist's wage.


Dione Joseph, Black Creatives Aotearoa founder, writer,  director, dramaturge

2020 has proved that the old ways of doing are not working. 

In this upcoming election we need to see the government and the various parties vying for our vote to recognize the existing gaps in the systems - trenches that reinforce inequities, maintain an illusionary 'mainstream' and continue to skew financial support away from those most in need.  

Policies need to change to ensure our creative communities can thrive in the new normal. Boardrooms need more than token representation and genuine active inclusion needs to be addressed. 

The artist's wage would be an excellent starting point to ensure that our community can actually have reliable and regular income; more support for artists with families; inclusion of Teaching Artists in schools, but also in the GLAM sector and do away with the diversity categories that continue to create division and competition. 

Māori are tangata whenua - they are not 'diverse'. Old definitions have proven to have limited functionality and we need funds to be diverted from just another manual on 'how to' to actually ensuring there are seats at the table, not just to be part of the discussion, but to be influential in the decisions. The bigger the circle, the better the conversation


Judy Darragh, artist

Photo: Sam Hartnett.

  •  A focused conversation with art makers re what matters most to them post COVID, we would like to be genuinely consulted on the way forward.

  • An artist's wage, a reframing of the unemployment benefit which allows artists to "work" in the "arts industry" where everyone gets paid but not the artist.

  • A  stronger focus on the value of arts and culture in Aotearoa

  •  We now have an opportunity to focus on local art practises with the global art world “on pause” for some time.


Courtney Rose Brown, playwright

Photo: Tabitha Arthur Photography.

The starving artist stereotype to be starved.

I don’t wanna feel the need to throw my phone across the room after I state an hourly rate that is reasonable, because I’m afraid that I will no longer get the gig because the production doesn’t have enough funding. I want to be able to create and produce art without having to wrap it around my office job.

There’s clearly value in art, but as a career, as something stable, as something financially possible - well, that just feels like a fever dream.

The artist ‘dole’ would be the start of support that would save so many.

Sam Snedden, actor and director

I love the arts, it’s my life, but right now focussing on what I want out of the upcoming election seems a little narrow. So instead I’d like to talk about what I want for our democracy. We need a robust democracy with a functioning opposition who can hold the government to account. What we currently have is an opposition who are behaving in a way which, to me, is scarier than the reemergence of the virus in Auckland. 

They seem to be dabbling in what appear to be conspiracy or conspiracy adjacent theories. When the deputy leader of the opposition describes warnings by the government over masks as “perplexing” and the timing of our latest lockdown as “interesting series of facts” it seems harmless, but it is anything but. This kind of politicking with a public health response is dangerous and disingenuous, and given the sacrifices we have all made as a community, it’s much less than we deserve. 

We want your voice

We want to hear from you, members of the arts community. What do you want to know about Arts and Culture policies before you cast your vote?  Email us under the title of TBI ARTS VOICES at [email protected] - a max of 150 words and you could feature in the Arts Voices series.


Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi presents Shaping the Future of the Arts, Culture and Creative Sector - an election forum on 24 September. The Big Idea is a media partner for the event and will be live streaming the forum from 6.30pm on our Facebook page.

Speakers include Hon Carmel Sepuloni (Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister), Jonathan Young MP (Arts, Culture and Heritage Spokesperson, National Party), Chlöe Swarbrick MP (Arts, Culture and Heritage Spokesperson, Green Party), Jenny Marcroft MP (Arts, Culture and Heritage Spokesperson, NZ First), with Miriama Kama facilitating the forum.