Big picture thinking

Image source: Arts event photos feature on MP Nicky Wagner’s Flickr account
National MP, and Arts and Culture spokesperson Nicky Wagner
National’s survey was launched in the gallery at Parliament Buildings. Image supplied.
Arts and culture policy and strategy are on the agenda for the opposition

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A cynic might suggest that the biggest growth area in the arts at the moment is research on the sector itself - what’s working well and what needs to change to ensure artists and the arts thrive. 

From action planning, discussion documents, fact-finding analysis through to the planned launch of an Industry Transformation Policy there is definitely a lot of thinking going on.  

The National Party is the latest to put out a call for your views, with a new arts and culture survey which is available online and will be open to the end of September. 

Input will help the party finalise its policy heading into next year’s general election. 

National’s Arts and Culture spokesperson Nicky Wagner says she’s spent the past 18 months listening to, and meeting with, individuals and organisations across ‘this diverse, inspiring sector.’ 

“The survey will test some of the ideas I’ve heard, and seeks to better understand the opportunities and challenges the arts face in New Zealand today,” she says. “Our bottom line is you. We want to know your needs and aspirations to inform and develop policies that will shape and support the creative sector in the years to come.” 


National MP, and Arts and Culture spokesperson Nicky Wagner    

Looking to inspire    

The Christchurch-based MP says it’s already clear that the sector is of tremendous social and economic value to New Zealand - not only domestically but in terms of our international reputation.

She says socially people participating in the arts and being engaged is vital.  

“In Christchurch we’ve had really good examples. Post-earthquake the arts were really important. People focused on that part of our life. Also, after the terrorist shootings.” 

National will be reviewing the arts policy it took to voters ahead of the 2017 General Election because several years on things change. “We always want to do better,” Wagner says.  

“I’ve just become the spokesperson in this term so we thought it was a good idea to have a really good look at our policies, and the way the sector is developing. To look to the future and see if we can come up with something that is inspiring and empowering.”

Survey segments 

Around 30 or 40 organisations attended the launch of National’s survey at Parliament and since there have been a series of meetings around the country with future events planned in the months ahead.   

Wagner says she’s keen to get as high a participation as possible.  While the survey is targeted at people who work in or around the arts, it is open to anyone. 


National’s survey was launched in the gallery at Parliament Buildings. Image supplied.

We do want a good number of returns because the more people that give us their opinion, the more chance we have to influence people going forward.” 

The survey covers five different areas: 

  • Accessibility and how to grow participation and audiences

  • The creative economy and embracing technology 

  • How to ensure investment into the sector is effective 

  • Protecting and using assets 

  • Strengthening the voice of the arts. 

The last one is about strengthening the voice of the arts sector. So, can Government support the arts better? Is the structure correct? Should we be doing things differently and basically how do we integrate arts, culture and heritage into everything that we do? 

While they may be working separately to develop art strategies – the current Government and National seem to agree on one thing at the very least – arts funding is not only a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have.  

There is no doubt about it - evidence is telling us now that for a good quality of life, for a society that works well we need to invest in these sorts of areas," says Wagner.

So, it’s not so much whether we should invest, it’s where we should invest for the best return. And that can be a social return as much as an economic return.

The National Party online survey on arts, culture and heritage is open until at least the end of September: nickywagner.national.org.nz/arts_culture_heritage  

By Keri Malthus

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

15 Aug 2019

The Big Idea Editor

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