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Govt launches new cultural diplomacy programme

Govt launches new cultural diplomacy programme

Prime Minister and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Helen Clark today announced a $2.35 million per annum Cultural Diplomacy International Programme to promote New Zealand and New Zealand’s culture overseas.

Helen Clark said the programme’s aim is to contribute to a New Zealand cultural presence in key regions overseas, in order to promote economic, trade, tourism, diplomatic, and cultural interests.

“Cultural diplomacy is a powerful way for New Zealand to assert itself to the world as a unique and creative nation.

“We are a culturally diverse and contemporary nation, with a strong and unique cultural heritage. We will promote this more actively in the way we broaden and deepen New Zealand's ties with countries that are important to our own interests.

“We envisage the programme utilising organisations like, for example, the NZ Symphony Orchestra, the Royal NZ Ballet, or Black Grace, or individuals like Dame Malvina Major, in a way which promotes New Zealand’s cultural heritage while leveraging off their profile to enhance New Zealand trade and tourism.

“Economic and cultural successes are mutually important to New Zealand – and they can go hand in hand. The experiences of films such as Lord of the Rings and Whale Rider, have shown that cultural projects can have major spill-over benefits into the wider New Zealand economy.

“This Programme will support the growth of creative industries through overseas promotion and through long term country-to-country links, and will support and lift the profile of other trade initiatives offshore,” Helen Clark said.

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage is the lead agency for the programme, which was developed through the Grown and Innovation Framework. It is working closely with government agencies such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise and Tourism NZ, which have a major external focus. Cultural organisations and agencies will also be closely involved.

Questions and Answers

Q. When does the Programme begin? A. From 1 July 2004

Q. Is it a programme that performers, artists and art events can apply to for funding overseas engagements? A. No, the Programme will be managed on a strategic basis to meet the government’s cultural diplomacy objectives. Projects will be planned well in advance with a range of government agencies and some private sector organisations. The projects will involve a range of artists and cultural sector organisations. Creative New Zealand will continue to provide opportunities for artists and art events to travel internationally, in line with its arts development role and funding criteria.

Q. Why do we need to spend money on cultural activities overseas? Isn’t it better spent helping exporters? A. A good understanding of New Zealand society and culture underpins our export growth. Developing a distinctive profile internationally and encouraging affinities with New Zealand means that we need to present ourselves as a creative and diverse society with a contemporary culture that is strongly rooted in traditions.

Q. Do other countries have similar programmes? A. Yes. The Australian International Cultural Council funds cultural activities abroad to advance foreign and trade policy interests and promote the export of Australian cultural products. The British Council presents British culture abroad to enhance its cultural and broader relationships. The Canadian government runs a similar programme.

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