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What About The Heartland, Helen?

Monday 15th May 2000
Penny Webster
Media Release -- Other

What About The Heartland, Helen?

“Once again it appears the only groups to benefit from arts funding are those frequented by Helen Clark and her cultural elite,” said ACT Arts and Culture spokesman Penny Webster. Mrs Webster was responding to Helen Clark’s pre Budget announcement today of a cultural funding package. Ms Clark did not disclose any figures, although it is known that the Government is spending $77 million on arts and culture this year, compared with $98 million five years ago. Today’s announcement outlined plans to guarantee funding for the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, The Royal New Zealand Ballet and the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra. “Performance groups like Kapa Haka, Polynesian festival performers and Chinese dance groups who reflect, rather than homogenise, New Zealand’s cultural diversity, don’t even rate a mention. “The other big losers will be New Zealand’s provincial towns, the breeding grounds of thespian talent. “These heartland towns, who receive infrequent NZSO visits at best, still manage to have thriving theatre and performance groups through business and community support. “Yet the Government rewards these community initiatives by taking money in tax, showering elite and inaccessible professional groups with the money, and effectively making every small town arts supporter pay twice. “This initiative can only increase the rift between the Government and provincial New Zealand highlighted in last nights Colmar-Brunton Poll, “ACT believes private business should support the arts through sponsorship, yet this will be understandably difficult under present Government policies,” said Penny Webster.

For more information visit ACT online at or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at

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