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Green Party launches arts policy

The Green Party launched its arts policy today, which includes giving the Minister of Cultural Affairs a seat at the Cabinet table and making donations to established artist organisations tax deductible.

The policy also includes an "Artists in Action" programme, modelled on the writers in residence scheme in universities. The new programme would include artists in residence in Parliament, Ministries and Government Departments.

Arts spokesperson Mike Ward said it was "about time" the arts were recognised as being an important part of New Zealand society. Green Party Co-Leader Rod Donald said it was the first time in many years that any political party's arts policy had been launched by a practising artist.

"We are in the privileged position of having strong grassroots connections with the creative people at the cutting edge of the New Zealand arts scene," Mr Donald said.

Mr Ward is a successful self-employed jeweller, illustrator and sculptor. He is placed at number eight on the party list.

"We want people to know that life is about having fun, and that there is more to life than consuming," Mr Ward said.

"So much of our time is spent working perhaps two or more jobs to buy things we often don't need and which don't give us much real satisfaction. There is a real need for something more to life than that. Encouraging the arts is an extremely effective way of doing that," Mr Ward said.

ends

Mike Ward

Green Party Arts Spokesperson

Phone (025) 265 7459

(03) 548 7838 (home)

email: greens@ts.co.nz

A copy of the policy follows

The Green Party of Aotearoa/New Zealand

Arts Policy

November 1999

The role of the artist in society must be to inspire, to challenge, to invigorate an idea or to reveal a truth. The expression of this may be as simple perhaps as a movement in dance or drama, a sound reminiscent of the wind, a stroke of colour on canvas; or it may be as complex as an opera, a multi-media presentation, or an installation in metal and sand. It is about moulding the clay, crafting the sentence, expressing the moment. Art is culture, is life, is necessary.

The role of Government must be to facilitate the well-being of its citizens, to inspire the best amongst its people, and to create a secure and creative community within a sustainable environment. Between Government and the arts there should be a broad relationship of support and understanding. To this end, it is important that we recognise and support local talent. It is, therefore, necessary to create the conditions in which New Zealand talent can reach the highest standard and be enjoyed by the widest audience. The goal is widespread participation in the arts and affordable access. Areas in which creative pursuits need to be encouraged include, schools - from early childhood to secondary level, prisons, as well as urban and rural communities. It is also important that each of these areas is provided with adequate resources and trained professionals to encourage participation. Creative and cultural work is a valid expression within an organisation and is recognised to be a useful means of empowering people and helping to develop additional skills, training, and confidence. Workplace and union organisations will be supported through Government funding bodies in their creative pursuits as a means of reflecting and exploring social, political, and spiritual issues.

A people free to express, create, and enjoy artistic sensibility is a people in control of their destiny. Art and craft, whatever the cultural premise, are about exploring the creative instinct. The arts are intelligent, challenging, and demanding. The artistic life demands commitment and determination from its practitioners. Their work must be given due status and recognised as a 'proper job'.

The arts have an increasingly important role to play in our economic health. Recent international successes attest to this, notably - the Lord of the Rings project, the Xena and Hercules television series, Shortland Street, a wide range of local musicians and music videos including Split Enz, OMC, Bic Runga et al., community theatre initiatives such as the Wairoa project and wide range of internationally acclaimed artists and craftspeople. Each of these activities has numerous spin-offs for local artists, actors, technicians, and other local businesses. The arts industry remains one of the few growth industries in the New Zealand economy.

A 1996 report from Statistics New Zealand "Household Spending on Culture" shows that for the year ending March 1996 household spending on cultural goods and services amounted to $1.9 billion, or almost 5% of total expenditure. This is more than spending on each of - domestic power, overseas travel, mortgage principal repayments, and clothing and footwear, representing significant economic spending which has the potential to be invested in local talent.

The Green Party recognises art and craft as an environmentally friendly, strategic investment area. It is a large employment sector with valuable export potential and provides an opportunity for enjoyment, satisfaction, and intellectual well-being. The Green Party recognises the arts and crafts as areas of human activity where the potential for growth is unlimited. The Green Party also recognises that cultural diversity is a national asset, and respects the role of tangata whenua and the influence of the various settler communities who have brought their cultural identity with them. The Green Party is committed to supporting both tangata whenua, and tau iwi cultural development.

The Green Party also recognises that Television New Zealand has a responsibility to reflect New Zealand culture and include good New Zealand dramas and documentaries into its programme structure, rather than relying on formula game show or personality-based 'real TV' options.

Investment in both art and craft projects has several social, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and economic benefits, not the least being the opportunity to explore our constructive and creative talents and instincts. To be a part of a society that values creative ability must be a good thing.

In terms of an economic comparison, the Irish government has a proactive arts policy which supports local talent and culture through both tax incentives and comprehensive international exchange programmes. A 1994 study 'The employment and economic significance of the Cultural Industries in Ireland' (Coopers and Lybrand) shows the arts sector has a gross revenue of 450 million pounds; directly employs 21,500 people (full-time equivalents) amounting to 2.4% of the work force; and has a minimum export value of 100 million pounds. The Green Party would work toward creating a similarly beneficial artistic environment in New Zealand to allow artists the freedom to contribute to society; and recognises the worthwhile contribution being made to our social fabric. Specific Objectives

* To develop and secure the highest standards achievable in the arts and crafts. Inherent in this the need to improve the status of artists and craftspeople and to foster a climate that encourages innovation and artistic development.

* To encourage participation in the arts and crafts in terms of availability and access, with particular reference to young people and children.

* To secure maximum benefit for the arts and crafts throughout New Zealand through strategic partnerships with local government, iwi, schools, libraries, business, and community organisations.

* To ensure policy-making is fully informed through high quality research and public consultation.

* To recognise that investment in the arts and crafts is a socially and commercially sound proposition.

* To acknowledge the arts and crafts as a valid expression or our cultural and spiritual identity as a nation.

Developing a Creative and Aesthetic Culture

1. The Ministry of Cultural Affairs will continue to be the principal body entrusted with co-ordinating the promotion and development of our artistic culture. The Minister will sit inside Cabinet and will be expected to co-ordinate with other Ministries for the advancement of cultural and artistic expression in Aotearoa.

2. A new arts and cultural promotion unit will be established within the Ministry of External Affairs and Trade and will work with the support of the Ministries of Culture, Tourism, and Commerce, with the explicit purpose of developing an international promotion and exchange programme. This will include an assertive international marketing function.

3. The writers in residence scheme that currently exists in universities will be used to model an extended programme of 'Artists in Action' which will include Parliament, Ministries, and Government Departments. Business and community organisations will be encouraged to do likewise.

4. As an example of how this would work, the artist in residence at Parliament would be required produce a significant work at the end of each Parliamentary term, such as a volume of poetry, a series of paintings, a piece of music, dance, or an installation.

5. Contributions to bona fide artist organisations such as 'Friends of the New Zealand Ballet', will be tax deductible along the same lines as charity donations.

6. The Minister for Arts and Cultural Affairs will assume a full and active role within Cabinet.

7. The arts greatly enrich the human spirit and should play an integral role in all decisions influencing our society. Artistic input into civic and social decision-making processes will be encouraged

8. Funding through Creative New Zealand and New Zealand on Air must ensure that regional and sector groups are adequately catered for. It is may be necessary to instigate a funding structure similar to the Community Organisations Granting Scheme (COGS) to ensure accountable and transparent decision-making.

9. The National Archives, Film archives, and museums will be maintained in government hands as a resource for New Zealanders. Free access to information will be a priority.


ends

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