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National adopts Labour’s arts policy

Written By: - Date published: 12:46 pm, July 16th, 2008 - 30 comments
Categories: culture, national - Tags: ,

So National has adopted Labour’s arts, culture and heritage policy essentially unchanged. Good.

The flourishing of New Zealand’s arts and culture we’ve seen over the last eight and a half years hasn’t come about by chance, it’s been fostered by generous and targeted funding to give talented people the opportunity to get their work out there in a way that had previously been impossible in a small market like New Zealand.

Cultural cringe is now a thing of the past. Kiwis are proud of our identity, and we don’t want to see arts funding cut. National’s realisation of this fact, however belated, can only be welcomed.

One question remains though – what does National mean when it says it will maintain arts funding “at current levels”? If it’s not inflation-adjusted that means an effective 4% cut in arts funding next year, and a similar cut every year thereafter. It would also make a mockery of their entire policy.

Chris Finlayson – if you’re reading, d’ya reckon you could flick us an email to clear this up?

30 comments on “National adopts Labour’s arts policy ”

  1. Matthew Pilott 1

    I guess they’re conceding Labour are “Ambitious for NZ” as well, given they’ve ticked another Labour policy…

  2. “If you read the policy literature, it seems uncontroversial that the arts can stimulate economic growth, reduce social exclusion and improve our health – in short, transform our society. Yet, as this book seeks to show, there is surprisingly little evidence for these claims. We may have a government that calls for ‘evidence-based policy’ but as its support for the arts demonstrates, they don’t have much of a leg to stand on.”

    So why do taxpayers fund the arts ?

  3. Benodic 3

    So you oppose National’s policy Bryan?

  4. Felix 4

    Jesus Bryan, is this really what you do with your days?

    Copying text which supports your extreme right wing ideology, more or less at random, and pasting it in comments at The Standard?


  5. Matthew Pilott 5

    You certainly cherry-picked your quote there well Bryan, but I read the whole article and found it very interesting, cheers. Interesting that an answer to your question is in the very same piece!

    Does our government have the same ‘evidence-based policy’? I don’t see any of that mentioned in Labour’s (and now national’s) arts funding policy? And as that article mentions, there are problems trying to place a value on arts funding – do you want a big bureaucracy or not?

  6. r0b 6

    Bryan, poor dear, appears to be one of those that knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

    However, I must applaud his call for “evidence based policy”. I look forward to him applying it to National’s policies (assuming that is that they ever deliver any). I expect that Bryan will reject any National policy (e.g. “tax cuts to stimulate the economy”) that cannot be backed by sound evidence.

  7. Benodic: Yes I see zero value in public funding of the arts, it just encourages mediocrity,benefits pet projects of the Arts Minister or supports political sycophants.

    Felix: Yes, it’s a great job isn’t it ? Getting paid to do what others happily do for free. 🙂

  8. Lew 8

    No need to bag Bryan so roundly for this one – the cutnpaste is a fair question, even if it is off-topic. What it isn’t, however, is an argument against government funding of the arts.

    The book seeks to show there’s `surprisingly little’ evidence for the usual claims behind government funding. It may or may not actually show that – who’d know, without reading the book? Until the book is read and the arguments and evidence analysed and accepted in the context of whatever other evidence may exist, the evidence-based approach is to continue as we are now, funding the arts from government at levels according to whatever factors they measure for arts funding.

    So, Bryan, the answer to your question in the link above is: because nobody’s made a strong case they shouldn’t. The bit which is wrong with your logic here is the implication we should change government policy on the basis of the introduction of a book published in Britain, which by its own measure is a challenge to consensus, not consensus itself.


  9. Matthew: “do you want a big bureaucracy or not?”

    No, I certainly do not. The only way that the value of an individual art work can be truly measured is by letting the market determining what it is worth i.e. how much is an individual or corporate prepared to pay for it.

    I certainly don’t want an army inventing meaningless pseudo-measures for artistic vale : “Whilst artists and arts managers may speak the language of ‘performance measurement’, ‘market share’ and ‘return on investment’, they are more dependent than ever upon the state.”

    If all government ( local & central) funding for the arts was removed it would not result in the cessation of production of art works. Many artistic & cultural works happily survive on a purely commercial basis e.g. cinema, computer games, books. It would eliminate cultural works (e.g. the NZSO) that only survive through government funding and only receieve that funding because of their sycophantic relationship to the cultural and political elite.

    rOb: unlike “Dear Leader” I indulge my love of art at my own expense, not that of the taxpayer.

  10. Felix 10

    Many artistic & cultural works happily survive on a purely commercial basis


    As is so often he case Bryan, you’re looking at individual elements in isolation when really they’re all part of big, complex, interconnected organisms. Just as important to note, you’re also looking at but a snapshot of time.

    If you really think any of those fields of artistic endeavour which are currently commercially viable just sprung up one day because the market demanded them into existence then you’re even more deluded than I thought.

  11. Matthew Pilott 11

    Bryan, I think you’re taking a ferociously narrow view of ‘arts’, as if it’s government getting someone to paint something for a fee. I’m not deeply into many of ‘the arts’ as such so can’t give a good example but I still think you’re missing the point.

    It’s not about the market-derived ‘worth’ of an artistic piece. All that says is that someone with a lot of money thinks the piece is valuable as opposed to someone without a lot of money. What kind of a measure is that?

    Do you honestly think something is only worth having if it is a commercial success? What about sites of cultural and historical significance – they might be worth more as an office block or car park. Shall we bulldoze Christchurch Cathedral to put in another hotel? Katherine Mansfield’s birthplace for some townhouses? Auckland Museum for a stadium? I can tell you right now which is more profitable.

    If you want to not fund any arts, culture or heritage, I guess you’ll say the same for sports, public broadcasting, race relations, communications and such, in as much as you can’t put a decent dollar value on their worth.

    And we’ll have a society where nothing is considered apart from its financial worth – no thanks!

  12. AndrewE 12

    If it’s not inflation-adjusted that means an effective 4% cut in arts funding next year, and a similar cut every year thereafter. It would also make a mockery of their entire policy.

    You mean like happens to our salaries when tax brackets are not adjusted?

  13. Matthew Pilott 13

    Bit of a threadjack AndrewE, but hey, isn’t government spending also affected by inflation? How can we expect the same service without taking this into account? Maybe if you argued about adjusting to wage growth you’d have a leg to stand on, hell, people might even be inclined to agree with you there. Bit tough to implement though.

  14. Matthew: you are right of course, a healthy society must be more than just crass money making and in order to encourage artistic endeavors there will always have to be some level of public support.

    I am still concerned with the belief within the arts community that they are entitled to support. I have been involved in various arts and culture projects over the years. I also completed a degree in visual arts at University of Auckland a few years back. In addition to there being compulsory courses in applying for government funding there was a strong culture among the lecturers of deriding corporates while sucking up to corporates for sponsorship and support.

    Art would be much stronger if it had to stand on its own feet, perhaps artists would give more thought to alternative ways of funding their projects. Art in new Zealand suffers under the yoke of dependancy.

  15. Tane 15

    AndrewE – I guess if your pay isn’t rising fast enough to beat inflation. But for most of us it has been over the last nine years.

    Interestingly the major decreases in incomes don’t come from bracket creep, but from non-unionised workers not getting the pay increases they need to keep up with inflation. Of course, you’ll never hear the right complain about that.

  16. Tane 16

    Art would be much stronger if it had to stand on its own feet, perhaps artists would give more thought to alternative ways of funding their projects.

    Of course this is not backed up by reality. When it was left to the market there was far less NZ content on our screens and on our radio, and less creative output in general. How do you explain that Bryan?

  17. Tane: That is called quality control.

  18. Matthew Pilott 18

    Right. Note to all: Bryan prefers NZ Idol to the BBC.

  19. polaris 19

    Tane: Maybe NZers saw the level of local content on tv and radio that they actually wanted, as opposed to how much politicians wanted.

  20. Tane 20

    Polaris, if that’s the case then why is the idea of cutting arts (and broadcasting) funding so politically unpalatable that National has had to largely adopt Labour’s policy?

    What’s your view on National’s (welcome) policy backflips?

  21. coge 21

    Were it not for state funding the world would not benefited from such great works such as “Roses for Stalin” The state, through govt funding becomes an arbiter that defines what our art & culture is. The best situation for art to thrive is healthy economy. Where an artist can make a living, & the work is able to stand on it’s own merit. There is always a risk of art being corrupted by state influence through unwelcome political agenda.

  22. “What’s your view on National’s (welcome) policy backflips?”

    Cunning plan to fool the proles, seize power and then implement their real agenda.

  23. r0b 23

    Cunning plan to fool the proles, seize power and then implement their real agenda.

    Think what you like about BS (lord knows I often do) – but he got that one right!

  24. rOb: I’m hoping his real agenda includes attaching education funding to the child so i can send my son to a private school without bearing the full cost myself.

    I’m also hoping he privatises SH1 as a toll road (it could be renamed The Michael Cullen Highway to recognise services to Toll Holdings shareholders).

    I have a long list of hidden agenda policies but i really hope he forces the 7 councils in Auckland to amlagamate and appoints John banks as Lord Mayor with a mandate to free up zoning and allow reampant building of infill housing,apartments and subdivision on the city edges to drive down house prices.

    One final policy privatisation not only of ACC, but a grand sell off of Kiwibank & Kiwirail back to their rightful owners the Australian banks. Of course all this is just the start of a righties wet dream.

  25. r0b 25

    Keep talking BS – what happens next in your right wing dream?

  26. Matthew Pilott 26

    Bryan, I hate Auckland too! (actually I don’t, but thought I’d show some solidarity with you as you clearly hate the place. Do you want a plague of locusts with your infill housing and John Banks, sir?)

    And since when did the Australian banks own Kiwibank? Are you arguing for the enforced reverse nationalisation of our assets? Shall we give the Police to Blackwater perhaps?

    (classic, I was going to say give Mt Eden to the good folks who run Guantanamo, but didn’t as Gitmo isn’t private. Scroll down and my captcha was 15 Guantanamo – the age of their youngest ‘war criminal’).

  27. Lew 27

    Awesome. You want central government to appoint John Banks – a former National cabinet minister, indeed! – Lord Mayor, a more powerful role than the one he already has, which Banksie calls the second-most powerful position in the country (after the PM).

    Yep. That sure is democracy.


  28. Matthew:”And since when did the Australian banks own Kiwibank?”

    You are right!!!! I was so deep in my idyllic fantasy of a small government/high performance New Zealand that I had gotten ahead of myself.

  29. Ari 29

    Back on topic, I really hope to see someone just ask a general question to National about whether their new “keep Labour’s policies but at current funding levels” commitments will adjust for inflation or increased demand for public services.

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