Make a Stand for the Arts
As Dr Ashley Bloomfield has so eloquently told us in his daily briefings, COVID-19 cases have ground to a halt but we’re learning for ourselves that the second wave of the Pandemic repercussions is starting to ramp up.
The warmth of joy about returning to Level 1 is somewhat tempered by the cold hard reality about what there will be to return to.
In Tāmaki Makaurau, as with many regions, the news is currently more than a little dire as Auckland Council adopts its Emergency Budget for the current financial year. It has direct ramifications on how arts and culture will be presented, performed and experienced.
These cuts include;
Fewer and smaller events, including regional events and festivals such as Matariki Festival, Waitangi Ki Manukau, Movies in Parks, Music in Parks, Heritage Festival
Council facilities reducing opening hours
Scaled back programmes in community centres, arts facilities like galleries and libraries and scaled back regional arts and culture programmes
Fewer arts, culture and events grants due to a reduction in activity, including reduced contestable grants
Public art spending would be reduced by 70 per cent.
Window of Opportunity
Te Korakora on Federal during Matariki Festival. Photo: Auckland Council.
Even with the knowledge that there would have to be impacted in these tough times, it’s a bitter pill to swallow. There is still a window of opportunity for those who live in the region to be heard.
Until 19 June, Aucklanders are being offered the chance to provide feedback on the Emergency Budget.
We at The Big Idea feel it’s important for the arts community to voice its feedback and will be doing so as an organisation. Along with 35 arts facilities in the region, Auckland Council have been an avid supporter of the arts, funding key organisations such as The Basement, Te Pou, DocEdge, NZ Dance Company, Massive Theatre Company, Objectspace, SIlo Theatre, NZTrio, Artspace, Pantograph Punch, NZ Comedy Trust, Show Me Shorts, Tempo Dance, Manukau Symphony Orchestra and The Big Idea.
Elise Sterback, Executive Director of Basement Theatre speaks for many when she says “money spent on arts organisations is not wasted, but returned tenfold.“
Sterback explains “Basement Theatre was founded only because of the support of critical partners like Auckland Council, allowing us to grow into a nationally significant venue and artist development hub that supports the sustainable careers of Aotearoa's emerging and independent artists.
“The Basement has become a fixture that would be missed by our audience of over 40,000 people and our 700 artists that pass through our doors each year.
“We have transformed a forgotten carpark into a vibrant cultural neighbourhood right in the heart of the city, that puts Auckland on a global map due to the recognition we receive from festivals and other venues across the world.
“We make the financial support from Auckland Council ($1.60 per head) stretch extremely far, not to mention the flow-on economic value we generate for the city by attracting diners, shoppers and tourists.”
Take A Stand
Lang Ea's Beacon, one of the many public artworks enjoyed in Tāmaki Makaurau. Photo: Auckland Council.
While there may be some who feel resigned to the fact these changes are unlikely to be overturned, they will most certainly take place if no one makes a stand.
Just like if you don’t vote, then you’re in no position to complain about the outcome - if you’re not prepared to make a submission, then you can’t expect your voice to be heard.
If the budget cuts and the impact on your community concerns you and you want to have a say in how Auckland Council spends the ratepayer dollars - this is what you do.
Visit akhaveyoursay.nz/emergency-budget.nz and follow the blue “Have your say now” link to the feedback page.
You’ll be asked for your opinion on the key topics first, such as an overall rate rise. Then, question four ‘Other feedback - what is important to you?’ is your opportunity to provide feedback on things you support and aspects you want reconsidered or enhanced, including arts, events and community outcomes. All questions are optional, and you can provide feedback on behalf of an organisation or as an individual.
For more information click here
To make a submission, click here
Another option is getting in touch with your local board directly, which is another important way for local voices and considerations to be heard. They are the ones that physically represent you when the key meetings take place. For a list of local board contact details, click this link.
Music in Parks gig. Photo: Auckland Council.
The arts world is filled with passionate and articulate individuals and organisations that are used to fighting for what they believe in. This is an important opportunity to stand up for the value the arts bring to our communities - now more than ever.