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Report presents findings about creative spaces

A report, Understanding the Value of Creative Spaces, presents key findings from a survey of creative spaces throughout New Zealand, intended to provide key decision-makers and agencies with information about the sector to better understand how the sector operates, the services it provides and to whom.

Creative spaces are organisations and places where people who experience barriers to participation can create or participate in artforms, including Māori and Pasifika artforms, painting and drawing, crafts, sculpture, photography, theatre, dance, circus, music, film and creative writing.

Hon Carmel Sepuloni, Associate Minister for Arts Culture and Heritage, Minister for Social Development and Minister for Disability Issues requested that the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, the Office for Disability Issues and the Ministry of Social Development, with assistance from Arts Access Aotearoa, undertake a study on creative spaces to provide information about the sector.

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage and Arts Access Aotearoa identified 67 different organisations as creative spaces. The survey was distributed to the 67 organisations and responses were received from 42 creative spaces, for a response rate of 63%.

The report includes case studies of four creative spaces: Māpura Studios in Auckland, Artsenta in Dunedin, Te Whare Toi o Ngāruawāhia – Twin Rivers Community Art Centre in Ngāruawāhia and Vincents Art Workshop in Wellington.

Some of the key findings
• An estimated 11,300 people used the services of creative spaces in the past financial year.
• Compared with their previous financial year, two-thirds of creative spaces (64%) have experienced an increase in the numbers of clients, including 19% that have experienced an increase of more than about 15 per cent.
• Creative spaces cater for a wide range of disabilities or barriers to participation among their clients: most commonly, clients with mental illness (86% of spaces), intellectual disabilities (83%) and learning disabilities (81%).
• Just over half of creative spaces (53%) employ full-time staff, and almost nine in ten (88%) employ part-time staff. It is estimated that around 625 full-time equivalent staff are employed in the sector.
• Nine in ten creative spaces (90%) use volunteers. It is estimated that there are around 3,000 volunteer hours worked in a typical week across the sector, equating to around 100 full-time equivalent staff members.
• Almost all (97%) creative spaces employ at least one staff member with a recognised qualification, and around three-quarters (73%) have one or more staff currently studying for a recognised qualification.
• The most common artform creative spaces provide is visual art (82%), followed by crafts (67%) and music/singing (59%). The least commonly provided artforms are circus (8%) and Pasifika arts (21%).
• More than eight out of ten creative spaces (84%) provide exhibitions or performances of their client artists’ work, with a similar proportion (79%) providing artistic skill development or training.

All creative spaces (100%) responded that the outcomes for their clients as a result of participating in their creative space are social interaction, increased confidence, improved wellbeing, increased creative expression/skills, increased self-esteem and a sense of belonging. Almost all (95-97%) also indicated that outcomes included communication skills, connection with their local community and self-development.

Funding barrier
Most (78%) creative spaces indicated there are services they wanted or needed to deliver in order to achieve their organisation's goals but cannot currently do so. This included delivering more programmes, services or projects to: address unmet needs and demand; extending to other locations or the hours of operation; targeting specific groups within communities; offering specific art or craft forms or skills development; and bringing more consistency in the delivery of programmes.

The key barrier to addressing priority gaps identified by creative spaces was a lack of funding or a funding-related issue.

Unsurprisingly, increased funding was identified as the main way creative spaces would be able to address the gaps identified in their services. Increased and/or more secure/stable funding would allow creative spaces to employ more staff, and more-skilled or specialist staff, to develop and run their programmes and connect with communities; increase their capacity and space available; and find more suitable or larger venues for the services and clients groups they wished to deliver to.

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