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NZSO Bill enshrines orchestra’s cultural role

NZSO Bill enshrines orchestra’s iconic cultural role

Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Helen Clark today announced that the government is introducing legislation to enshrine the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s role as one of New Zealand’s cultural icons.

“The NZSO is a jewel in New Zealand’s cultural structure, but it needs protecting. The new legislation will both enhance its ability to perform to the highest international standards, and preserve its status as an iconic cultural institution,” Helen Clark said.

“In 2000, the government put the NZSO on a stable financial footing with a one-off $3 million capital injection and an extra $1.4 million annually. With the new legislative changes, the NZSO will have the platform from which to meet its objective of performing throughout New Zealand and overseas at an international standard.”

Helen Clark said the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Bill explicitly requires the NZSO to provide the public of New Zealand with international-standard performances of symphonic music.

Other provisions require the orchestra to contribute to the development of a distinctively New Zealand cultural environment and to encourage New Zealand musical composition.

The orchestra’s current legislation, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Act 1988, does not specify its purpose or functions. Under that legislation, the Orchestra is established as a limited liability company, therefore operating within the requirements of the Companies Act 1993.

“This commercial focus is an anomaly in that the orchestra does not primarily exist to make money, but rather to ensure New Zealanders have access to a very significant cultural resource. The new legislation will give the NZSO a much better basis on which to operate as a foremost cultural institution.

“The government will nevertheless expect the Orchestra to operate in a financially responsible manner and maintain its financial viability.”

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Bill changes the status of the NZSO from a limited liability company to a non-company Crown entity and specifies its role as the national orchestra of New Zealand.

Helen Clark said that nothing in the new legislation diminishes the NZSO’s ability to make independent artistic decisions.

“The NZSO will still act without ministerial direction in artistic matters.”

The NZSO was formed in 1946 as part of the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation. It was established as a limited liability company during the broadcasting reforms of the late 1980s. It is also a Crown entity, with responsibilities under the Public Finance Act 1989, and as a non-company Crown entity will continue to have those responsibilities.

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