Clarion call heard - fairer pay for artists
Impassioned discussions sparked by the release of Creative New Zealand’s research on artists living wages finally came to a head this week with the release of the Wellbeing Budget. In short, there will be an extra $87,490 million dispersed across the arts, culture and heritage sectors in the next four years. The focus of this windfall includes fairer wages for arts practitioners, investing in Te Papa, preserving audio-visual archives, bolstering creativity in schools programmes, screen production grants and supporting public media. All worthy causes.
Specifically, in relation to fairer artist wages, Creative New Zealand are set to receive $4 million over four years to help begin to combat this problem. While it is easy to see this as a disappointing outcome ($1 million dollars per year equates to 35 artists on a little over $30,000 per year) it is important to note that this is the first new increase to Creative New Zealand’s core funding in a decade. That in itself is a triumph.
In a statement to Mark Amery, Creative New Zealand stressed that it will be about “ensuring fairer pay for existing grants and projects. This initiative will help Creative New Zealand to fund fairer wage levels, which will assist in improving working conditions and development opportunities for artists and arts practitioners. The Arts Council is in the process of setting the organisation’s 2019/20 budget, so it’s helpful to have this additional funding confirmed ahead of finalising the budget in August. In the past few months, we’ve signalled other work we’re doing in relation to sustainable careers (for example, priority areas coming out of the A Profile of Creative Professionals research, and upcoming changes to our Grants programme), and we’ll be able to say more mid-June." More information about the breakdown of the Wellbeing Budget and what it means for the arts can be found on the Radio New Zealand website.
Well, not everyone is happy
There has been a fair bit of heated debate about what breakthroughs are needed and whether the changes are deep or different enough. In Idealog, this week Mike Hutcheson, innovation and creativity professor at AUT said this about the budget:
“The bit that’s missing for me is an introduction of a creative thinking platform. As Bernard Hickey says, we won’t grow our nation's wealth by selling overpriced houses to each other. Let’s get the accountant to step aside and let the innovators through!”
The release of the CNZ research so close to budget has been described as “letting the cat amongst the pigeons.”
Last week, I wrote that “time will tell whether feathers will fly or if the government will continue to pussyfoot around adequately funding creativity in New Zealand.” While not as immediately transformative as we would probably like, it is a step forward in the right direction after a decade of the arts being grossly underfunded by the government. However, this doesn’t stop the sting of disappointment in this relatively measly nod to the arts. Given that there has been so much written about the connection between the arts and wellbeing, it would’ve made sense to factor it more into the budget.
Ah well, moving forward
Time will indeed tell the impact that this budget will have on us. On a more encouraging note, there has been much delight in an influx of cash to an Artists and Creatives in Schools programme. Although there isn’t much known about it at the moment there is the hope that this will go some way towards future-proofing the sector.
It’s been an interesting lead up to the budget and what it's brought with it are robust conversations about the money-go-round and how we need to change the ‘for love’ paradigm.
Those honourable creatives
Queens Birthday isn’t all about a lie-in and languid brunches. Every year, the Queen (who never sleeps in) bestows various honours and titles upon a myriad of people across her realm. This year, her gongs included:
Dames Companion (DNZM)
Ms Frances Rosemary (Fran) Walsh, MNZM, Wellington, for services to film
Knights Companion (KNZM)
Mr Roger Leighton Hall (CNZM, QSO) for services to theatre
Roger Hall. Photo by Michael Craig
Mrs Dorothea Ashbridge for services to ballet
Mr David John Gapes for services for broadcasting
Mr Michael (Mike) King for services to mental health and suicide prevention
Rodney Bruce Morris for services to documentary film making
David Geoffrey Trubridge for services to design
Rob & Sue Gardiner at Christchurch Art Gallery's 'Tangle' installation. Image via Brown Bread
Ms Susan Leigh (Sue) Gardiner for services to the arts
Ms Stephanie Patricia Johnson for services to literature
Ms Robyn Jane Malcom for services to television and theatre
Ms Celia Ann Stewart for services to music education
Ms Nicola Jean Williams for services to arts governance
Mrs Edith Amituanai for services for photography and the community
Edith Amituanai with Marti Friedlander. Image via Tautai
Queens Service Medal (QSM)
Mr Andrew Paul Bicknell for services to music
Mr Eric William Bodell for services to broadcasting
Mr Fraser Logan Cameron for services to the community and theatre
Mr Sydney Tamou Kershaw for services to Maori performing arts and the community.
Album cover for Patea Māori Club - Poi E; Sydney Kershaw was a tutor with the Patea Māori Club when Poi E
was released in 1984. Photo: Base FM (Oren Oaariki)
Mr Roderick Andrew McLeay for services to music and education
Mrs Josephine Hinehou Mortensen JP, for services to Maori and the arts
Ms Kathryn Jane Orbell, for services to music
Mr Lyndsay Arthur Rackley for services to broadcasting
Ms Christine Puarata Smith for Services to Maori Art
Mr Grant Bruce Stevenson for services to the arts
Ms Rae Elizabeth Storey for services to folk dancing and the arts
Mr Kenneth Henry Tobin for services to pipe bands
Mr Nigel Edward Weeks for services to music
Mrs Ida Williamina White for services to Maori art
Mr Roy James Buckley for services to Wood Turning
Mr Fraser Logan Cameron for services to community and theatre
Everyone listed does remarkable mahi in the creative sector - suggesting that her majesty is a woman of wealth and taste. Congratulations one and all.
Painting women back into the future
From pay to gender inequality...Our friends across the ditch in Perth have launched Shelia: A Foundation for Women in Visual Art as a direct response to increasing calls for gender equality in the arts. A study funded by the foundation dubbed The Countess Report found that women are 75 per cent of art school graduates but only 34 per cent of artists exhibited in Australia’s state museums and galleries. The Shelia Foundation aims to combat gender inequality threefold; by providing scholarships for art historians and curators, to assist the purchase and commission of art by women and finally, to run annual lectures and symposiums focussing on women’s art.
John Cruthers, director of the new foundation says “we want to paint women back into the future” The foundation was named after his mother, Lady Shelia Cruthers, who started collecting women’s art in 1974. It eventually became the Cruthers Collection of Womens Art – the largest private collection of women’s art in Australia when it was donated to the University of Western Australia in 2007. While Shelia continues the work done by the Cruthers Art Foundation. John is just as passionate about women’s art as his mother and it is wonderful to see the board stacked with so many women. It begs the question – when will New Zealand establish something similar?
Subverting traditional conventions
Georgie Keyse from Invercargill has been named as the recipient of the 2019 Liz Stringer Curatorial Internship at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakaata. A Victoria University Art History alumna, Georgie has worked as the Public Programmes Manager at the City Gallery in Invercargill. After its closure, she enrolled in a post-graduate diploma in Museum Studies at Massey University. During the course of Georgie’s internship, she will be curating two exhibitions, the first aiming to challenge the stereotypes of portraiture and how artists subvert traditional conventions. It sounds like a refreshing take and we are wishing you all the best in your new role Georgie!
A collaboration not to be missed
Prayas, New Zealand’s leading South Asian theatre company has joined forces with Auckland Theatre Company to produce A Fine Balance at Q Theatre from 14 June – 6 July. Based off Rohinton Misty’s sensational novel of the same name, it weaves a tale that celebrates the indomitable human spirit when faced by an inhumane state. Liz Gunn spoke to director Ahi Karunarahan for the 13th Floor. This will be an unmissable production.
Liz Gunn and Ahi Karunarahan
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