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5000 in Line to Artfully Claim the Dole

5000 in Line to Artfully Claim the Dole

Thursday 22 Nov 2001 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Employment

New Zealand has nearly 5000 unemployed artists, spread all around the country, according to figures released today by ACT Employment Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman.

Answers to Dr Newman's written Parliamentary questions show that 4919 people have registered as unemployed giving arts/culture as their first occupational choice. Employment Minister Steve Maharey has announced that artists can go on the dole while furthering their careers.

"The Government's supplied me with a general description of people who may qualify for this new scheme, but hasn't specifically addressed, as I sought, whether this includes painters, photographers, models, actors, musicians, writers, clowns, circus performers, dancers, strippers, poets and street buskers," Dr Newman said.

"Instead I have been given a list which includes: Performing arts, fine arts and crafts, literary arts, information technology, design and graphic arts, curation and preservation, arts administration and marketing, Pacific Island arts and Nga Toi Maori.

"The guidelines for qualification under this scheme appear incredibly broad. I believe Mr Maharey's plan gives scope for widespread abuse. We may now see a flood of opportunists classifying themselves as artists - simply to obtain or stay on the dole.

"Such abuse would denigrate the efforts of those genuinely committed to the arts.

"I wonder too whether the planned scheme properly addresses the question `what is art?' It appears that individual case workers will be left to make subjective judgements - which will likely lead to accusations of unfair treatment.

"As usual it seems Mr Maharey has dreamt up a half-bake idea which not only could turn into a bureaucratic nightmare but which also may stop those who could never make a living from art getting into a career which will take them ahead," Dr Newman said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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