National Cuts Funding for the Arts | The Jackal

3 Nov 2011

National Cuts Funding for the Arts

Today, National announced they will continue the same policy that was announced prior to the 2008 election... which means no increase in funding for the arts. However without any increase to match inflation, such policy amounts to a cut.

There are no two ways about it... National has ensured that many organizations involved in the arts cannot continue to function as effectively due to huge increases in overheads.

National not increasing funding to compensate for this dynamic compounded more so by National's derelict management of the economy, effectively creates a huge cut in what the funding can achieve.

Why fund the arts you might ask? Simply because society benefits from the spill-over effect of arts creation and consumption, which achieves a range of positive dynamics from productivity gains to enhanced cultural achievement. The benefits from robust funding of the arts cannot be underestimated.

The problem that has become more and more apparent during Nationals governance is their costing disease, which is a syndrome that applies equally to health and education funding. National is averse to properly funding things that do not show a direct financial benefit in their books.

However the nature of arts and culture is that most of the benefits cannot easily be quantified. How do you judge the self esteem of a country in financial terms for instance?

Here's National's Arts, Culture and Heritage Spokesman Chris Finlayson touching on the subject today:
“Culture and heritage are major parts of our economy, contributing to tourism, employment and other export earnings, as well as expressing who we are as a people,” Mr Finlayson says. “But large parts of the arts were sadly neglected under nine years of a Labour government," he said.
Labour actually created many worthwhile cultural funding regimes with Helen Clark being a true patron of arts. She ensured that New Zealand grew from a sometimes cringe worthy number eight wire approach to producing artistic endeavors that can compete at an international level.

Finlayson continues his spin:
“National has already taken steps to improve governance in the arts and culture sectors and we will continue this work so fewer resources are spent on bureaucracy and can be freed up instead for artists, performers and institutions,” Mr Finlayson says.

“It’s vital we maximise value for money from public services during these tight economic times,” says Mr Finlayson. “It’s about doing better with the money we have so our arts sector can continue to thrive.

“In government we have introduced legislation to reform the top-heavy structure of the Arts Council and allowed it to focus on assisting artists and performers. We have also introduced legislation to reform and streamline the Historic Places Trust.
Despite Finlayson promising in 2008 to retain almost all of the schemes created by Labour at the same level of funding, he's ensured that there has been a cut in direct funding to artists.

National has also ensured that amongst other dysfunctions, a reduction in adequate administration has resulted in bad decision-making concerning funding allocation.

In fact prior to the 2008 election, Finlayson was promising in their policy document to not reduce funding if National “turbo-charged community groups.” The fact that there has been a reduction overall in funding allocation means that National has failed to uphold their promise... but I guess we should be getting used to that by now.