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Legislation confirms NZSO as cultural flagship

Legislation confirms NZSO as cultural flagship

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Bill passed today once again demonstrates the Labour-led Government’s commitment to ensuring the ongoing availability of arts, culture and heritage to the people of New Zealand.

“This legislation aligns the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra with other cultural organisations under the Crown,” says Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Judith Tizard. “It recognises the Orchestra’s role is as important culturally for New Zealand as its financial performance.”

Judith Tizard said the primary purpose of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Bill was to change the status of the Orchestra from a limited liability company to an ‘autonomous’ non-company Crown entity. This conforms with the current reform of Crown entities.

The Bill clarifies in legislation the Orchestra’s role as a touring national orchestra by explicitly specifying its principal objectives and functions.

“These objectives and functions emphasise the Orchestra’s leadership role by requiring it to promote and encourage New Zealand symphonic music and composers and performance opportunities for New Zealand musicians.”

Judith Tizard said the Bill was an important milestone in the Orchestra’s history.

“It provides a legislative framework which accurately reflects for the first time the purpose and interests that we have in the Orchestra’s long-term future.

“The Orchestra makes a vital contribution to the development of New Zealand’s unique cultural environment. It has made symphonic music of international standard available to all New Zealanders for over 50 years. This Bill secures it for future generations of New Zealanders.”

Judith Tizard said the government did not advance a request for a players’ representative on the NZSO Board.

“While many orchestras overseas do have players’ representatives, our view is that the board needs to take a broad overview of the orchestra’s entire operation and the cultural and economic context in which it operates. There is the potential for conflicts of interest in management and human resource issues should players be members of the governance structure.

“The players’ views, however, are communicated to the Board through the Players’ Committee who do a wonderful job and I know will continue to do so.

“Additionally, the criteria for board membership will include an awareness of artistic matters relevant to the Orchestra, alongside governance and financial skills.”

Judith Tizard said the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and New Zealand’s regional orchestras were extremely important to New Zealanders. “I am very confident that this importance will continue to be acknowledged by the support the NZSO receives from government and the regional orchestras receive through Creative New Zealand.”

Background information:

The Orchestra was founded in 1946. It gave its first public performance as the National Symphony Orchestra of New Zealand in 1947 and has continued to maintain its status as a national orchestra of New Zealand.

This New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Bill specifies for the first time the government’s expectations of the Orchestra by setting out the Orchestra’s principal objectives and functions.

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Act 1988 (which will be repealed on the commencement of this Bill) does not prescribe the purpose or functions of the Orchestra nor government’s expectations of it. As a result the Orchestra is required to carry out functions within the commercial framework of the Companies Act 1993, without any legislative guidance with respect to its purpose or functions.

The primary purpose of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Bill is, therefore, to change the status of the Orchestra from a limited liability company to an ‘autonomous’ non-company Crown entity.

Establishing the Orchestra as a non-company Crown entity reflects the Orchestra’s non-commercial nature and the public policy objectives the Crown has in its ownership of and interest in the Orchestra. Additionally, classifying the Orchestra as an ‘autonomous’, non-company Crown entity conforms with the current reform of Crown entities.

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