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Tapping into creativity reaps financial benefits

Media Release

Tapping into creativity
reaps financial benefits

New Zealand’s economy is reaping the benefits from the work of more than 4,300 little-known, self-taught artists to the tune of an estimated $2.7 million a year.

Arts Access Aotearoa Executive Director Penny Eames says the contribution stems from those producing work through Creative Spaces around the country. The line-up of artists includes those with disabilities, refugees and migrants, children, the elderly and prison inmates.

There are more than 90 Creative Spaces in New Zealand, with the aim being to give those with limited access to the arts the chance to create, perform and develop their own art.

Penny Eames says the programme is win-win as those taking part are being given the chance to be part of society, and at the same contribute to economic growth.

“They are businesses, and they enable individuals who have been out of the workforce to make money and to be part of the economy. These groups of artists are therefore part of our economic growth.”

The work produced from artists associated with Creative Spaces is varied, including paintings, sculptures, carvings, along with performing arts such as dance and theatre.

She says the reality for many of the artists from Creative Spaces is that they have not been in a position to make their own money before. One example is that of an artist with a psychiatric disability who for the first time in more than three decades was able to buy gifts for people from money earned from her art.

“A lot of the individuals attached to Creative Spaces will never be able to have a full-time job, mainly because of the nature of their condition – selling their work allows them to make some money and also contribute to the economy.”

Penny Eames says the works have struck a chord with the tourist market, in large due to the “zany and different nature”. Several artists from Creative Spaces have had successful sell out exhibitions in Australia.

“What this is about is positioning the right product into the right market at the right time. Our artists are producing quality work with quality materials. What I am saying to people is here we have wonderful original works at the same price as some prints – there really is no comparison. Whether it is performance, visual or literary, the standard of work is worth seeing, buying and experiencing.”

Penny Eames says as well as making a contribution to the economy, Creative Spaces are a proven tool for engaging those considered to be on the margins of society.

“By celebrating work that has been created by people who have been seen as being on the margins of society, we include them in what we are doing. We encourage this creativity because people have a right to be part of society and a right to express themselves. These are making a real difference to health and justice sector outcomes.”

A national conference – Celebrating Creative Spaces – is being held in Wellington this week, as a way to recognise and build on the successes. Organised by Arts Access Aotearoa, it has attracted more than 300 delegates, and includes a line-up of international speakers. Alongside the conference there are 14 art exhibitions selling work of these self-taught artists.


For more information contact Penny Eames on (021) 321-048.

Note to reporters: Creative Spaces throughout New Zealand are represented at the conference. To find out whether your region has a Creative Space please contact Penny Eames.

© Scoop Media

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