Breaking news: CNZ calls for input into creating sustainable careers

Photo by Kevin Grieve.
Photo by David Hurley.
A welcomed conversation on how to change the bleak reality of what it’s like trying to make a living as a creative professional in Aotearoa is on its way.



By Andrea Rush

Last year, Creative New Zealand and NZ On Air engaged a research company to survey professionals who earned at least some income from their creative work on aspects of their careers. What many in the sector had known for so long came to the fore - that those working in the creative industries often have to juggle jobs, earn less than their peers, lose good people, dodge safety nets, and regularly navigate other harsh realities. The research was published in May this year. Here is a link to the article we shared following the release.

This quote from artist Wendelien Bakker encapsulates the challenges facing those working in the creative industries and why step change is needed. It is included in the discussion document Sustainable Careers for Artists and Arts Practitioners.

"In New Zealand, the ability to support yourself, and a family if necessary, working exclusively as an artist is an incredibly tough endeavour requiring extreme levels of mental fortitude and persistence.

This simple formula does not even begin to acknowledge the requisite well-connected networks, years of training and experimentation, and, of course, the fortune to be in the right place at the right time. It is a daily struggle to find paid opportunities in a highly competitive field."

Three priorities emerge 

It’s promising to see these two agencies who commissioned the report collaborating on the potential next steps. And brilliant they are putting a call out to those in the sector to help them craft the way forward.   

They are calling for responses to a discussion document to help them better understand career sustainability in the arts and creative industries. These are the agencies that work with the government and stakeholders to affect improvement.  They want to shape the policy direction to support change.   

They have identified three joint priorities for future action:

  1. Fair reward 

  2. Sustainability 

  3. Emerging creative professionals 

Developing a framework and some principles

Based on the research, they have developed six draft principles that they believe could contribute to sustainable careers for artists and arts practitioners. It’s a starter for ten so it’s up to the sector to jump in now and contribute. They would like your feedback on whether they have the principles right and what actions would be required to promote or embed them. They are also interested in what further research would be useful to help explore issues raised by the research. 

Here are the six principles they are exploring:

The six principles are that artists and arts practitioners:

  1. Feel their creative practice is valued and regarded as ‘real work’

  2. Are remunerated fairly for their work

  3. Are well positioned to adopt a portfolio approach to achieving a sustainable career

  4. Are prepared for a career in the arts and cultural sector

  5. Can access support to grow and develop a sustainable career

  6. Careers contribute positively to their wellbeing


Photo by David Hurley.

How to provide your views and comment

1. Via questionnaire

Read Sustainable Careers for Artists and Arts Practitioners: discussion document and respond to the online questionnaire.

The deadline for filling in the questionnaire is 10am on Thursday 31 October 2019

2. Attend a forum to add your voice

CNZ will be hosting in-person forums where you can discuss the research and principles with them face-to-face. Dates will be announced shortly.

3. Respond with direct feedback

Respond to CNZ if you have any questions about this article, the report or the questionnaire, or want to provide feedback you can


 Phone: 0800 CREATIVE (273 284)

 Post: Creative New Zealand
          PO Box 3806
          Wellington 6140

Written by

Andrea Rush

13 Aug 2019

Andrea Rush is a writer for the Big Idea. An aspiring novelist, she has a background in journalism, broadcasting, television production and communications. She is passionate about social justice, environment and economics.    

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