CNZ React To Government Decision To Fund Shakespeare Globe Centre NZ
A major moment for the Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand (SGCNZ) - with the Government stepping in to provide the funding that was cut by Creative New Zealand (CNZ).
SGCNZ was one of four organisations to lose their spot on CNZ’s three-year Toi Uru Kahikatea funding - with it their annual $31,827 funding - and took great umbrage with the decision and the rationale provided by the independent assessors.
The story has gathered both local mainstream media and even some international momentum in the last few days - with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern - who is a former attendee of SCGNZ events in her student days - even making comment that she thinks SGCNZ should be funded on Monday.
That’s been followed up today (Tuesday) with the news the Ministry of Education (MoE) will work with SGCNZ to “provide some support to help them through their current financial difficulties,” according to a statement.
“The Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival in particular has given thousands of young people the opportunity to be creative, and increase their confidence on stage,” says Minister of Education Chris Hipkins said.
“It would be a real shame if those coming through their education today were to miss out on these opportunities for learning and performing”.
Hot on the heels of the announcement, CNZ responded in what is an out-of-the-ordinary detailed media release.
In a joint statement, CNZ Chief Executive Stephen Wainwright and Arts Council Chair Caren Rangi declared they’re pleased “the Government has recognised that the MoE is better placed to provide this funding.
“This highlights the positive impact that additional government investment can have on the arts.
“While it’s great that a solution has been found for this one organisation, questions remain about other arts organisations and individual artists who find it difficult to mobilise or who don’t have the international pulling power to draw attention to their funding needs.
It also unfortunately doesn’t change the reality for CNZ that we’re still facing an unprecedented deluge and there are big issues around the sustainability of arts funding in Aotearoa.”
The statement then turns its attention to what CNZ called “alarming, misleading and racist” rhetoric over the last few weeks.
In its first point it states “Creative New Zealand does not hate Shakespeare. We support Shakespeare productions and we support Shakespeare being in schools. We simply can't meet the demand for our funding, and hard decisions need to be made.”
CNZ stands firm that SGCNZ’s proposal “wasn’t as strong as others and didn’t align with the Kahikatea programme requirements, and so they missed out this time around.”
It continues that CNZ “has not ‘cancelled Shakespeare in schools’ nor did we ‘defund’ SGCNZ. Their bid for CNZ funding towards organisational support was unsuccessful within a group of other stronger proposals that were more closely aligned with our strategic and funding priorities.”
CNZ also states that no one ever denied SGCNZ does good work, but just because they are “part of a lineage of exceptional artwork… that does not mean they are entitled to continued funding without going through due process. As a Crown entity we need to run fair, transparent processes.”
Defending the funding process
CNZ are also outlining the most contentious part of their operations - the funding process.
“It’s our privilege to support the creation and presentation of New Zealand art across multiple artforms as part of our core role. However, we don’t have the money to fund everyone. This means that many talented artists, groups and organisations often miss out. Now especially, we’re under enormous, unprecedented pressure with more organisations and individuals requesting funding, and less money to give out.
“We make funding decisions with input from the sector. That means we contract artists and arts practitioners outside of Creative New Zealand to evaluate applications and make recommendations.
“We use the terms ‘external peer assessors’ and ‘assessment panels’. We do a series of checks and balances ourselves before our Chief Executive or the Arts Council make final decisions. For this particular process, the Arts Council received advice from arts practitioners, input from our staff, and recommendations from the Chief Executive, before deliberating on the issues and opportunities and reaching final decisions.
“We ask the arts practitioners who provide assessment on proposals to be constructive in their feedback, but we do need them to be able to comment on an application freely and honestly. Many people have taken exception with some of the comments made about SGCNZ’s proposal. These comments have been taken out of context; they were a small component of a thorough decision-making process.”
CNZ also took aim at what they consider “racially-charged rhetoric”, stating while it’s a good thing when art discussion inspires robust debate, they have been “appalled that some of the criticism has become about race. Much of this commentary has been cruel and hurtful to Māori and Pasifika artists whose funding proposals were successful. We challenge the narrative that our decision was driven by reverse racism and that we are the ‘cultural Taliban’. CNZ’s mandate is to fund New Zealand made work within the limited resources we have.”
They’ve also made a plea for hatemail directed towards CNZ’s frontline staff to stop - “they don’t make funding decisions.” Those wishing to make feedback are being now publicly directed to send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.