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Playing the Funding Game: Are the Arts a Lottery?


Playing the Funding Game: Are the Arts a Lottery?

When will the Arts in New Zealand hit the jackpot or will Arts funding always be tied to a mechanism dependent on Lottery profits? So the funding roundabout  goes; when the profits from lottery are up, the funding flow increases and when the profits are down, the funding flow decreases. This, of course, is an over simplified explanation but it’s timely to be reminded of how important arts advocacy is and why we need to be constantly mindful of showing the true value of the Arts in our lives, communities and society.

How effective is current arts advocacy? How can agencies best convince others of the 'value' of the Arts? What advocacy strategies work? What arguments are successful? Which arguments should be used with which audiences? What level of resources should be diverted to advocacy and lobbying? Can advocacy outcomes be measured?

These are some of the key questions asked in an excellent resource called Good Practice Guide On Arts Advocacy by the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA). This resource provides international examples of campaigns, advocacy arguments, advocacy strategies and case studies.

Closer to home Creative New Zealand has developed an Advocacy Toolkit which focuses on very practical tips and suggestions for effective advocacy, which includes informing local Councillors and Mayors. Regional, district and City Councillors represent their communities and decide the funding priorities for their council.

Before making contact, research which Councillors and Mayors have an interest in the Arts. Arrange a meeting or invite them to see your work. Any contact is an opportunity to show them that investing in the Arts benefits their community. Stay in touch by inviting them to events and giving them updates on what you are doing. They receive many invites and a lot of correspondence so keep yours relevant and short.

Here are some examples of what they may be interested in knowing:
• Your project involves many people in their community.
• The Arts help to attract people to their city/region because they improve well-being and
• Highly-skilled people are attracted to places with a good quality-of-life. A vibrant arts
scene is part of that.

Advocacy isn’t always just about money as the publication Arts For All shows. It is a great guide providing practical long-term ways to enhance access and market events to the disabled community. Aimed at artists, arts organisations, venues, touring companies, festivals and venues, its focus is to build new audiences. This can lead to greater sustainability and a stronger market position.

On our DANZ website we have articles highlighting the importance of dance and the many benefits; socially, mentally, physically and culturally. The economic benefits are also a strong selling point with large events like Arts Festivals, WOW, Pasifika Festival, WOMAD and Te Matatini all having significant impacts for local regions.

The reality is that funding will always be subjective, driven by criteria, funding panels and dollar amounts available.Therefore, being resilient, creating alternative avenues for funding support and growing your network of influence are a few ways to future proof your practice against fluctuating gambling habits.

The Arts jackpot is not a triple dip power ball bonus number bullseye, but rather a secure mechanism that supports a consistent level of Central Government vote appropriation for Arts, Culture and Heritage. The Arts sector is too valuable to be left to chance, to be scratched out when gambling profits don’t hit the target. In the long run New Zealand is being sold short and deserves better.

Creative New Zealand Advocacy Toolkit
Creative Coalition/Resources
DANZ advocacy resources
IFACCA/Good practice guide on arts advocacy
Treasury/Vote Arts Culture and Heritage
Arts For All/Arts Access Aotearoa


Playing the Funding Game: Are the Arts a Lottery?

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