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Council Proposes Dollar-for-dollar Creative Funding

Hamilton City Council may put more money into creative initiatives in the city but will be looking for partners to match its contribution dollar for dollar.

In its draft Long-term Plan, Council is proposing to set up a three-year creative sector match funding trial. The trial would see $100,000 each year ring-fenced for creative initiatives like performance, artwork, multi-cultural activities and more. In return, the city hopes to attract at least a further $100,000 from external sources.

Creative Waikato would administer the funding, but no Council money would be released unless matching finance from an external party was in place.

Community Committee Chair Mark Bunting said Council can and should do something differently to support the city’s creative sector. Creative cities are fun cities that help drive vibrancy in the central city and attract people to Hamilton, he said.

“If we want more public art, more festivals, more installations, more performance, we have to do something to help it happen. But we can’t expect ratepayers to front up with all the money; they are doing their share,” he said.

“We’ve identified people and some businesses in the community who are keen as mustard to invest in our creative sector, but right now, they don’t want to go it alone. They need to know Council is also committed. They want a signal from the city that there’s Council backing for a project and match-funding would do that.”

Mayor Paula Southgate also supports the proposal saying Council has been approached by the creative sector over some years to do more to encourage people to participate in and enjoy the arts.

“I enjoy the amazing creativity we have in our city. In comparison to some other big councils, I know our spending in Hamilton on the sector is modest. I also know Creative New Zealand already has funds set aside for match funding, but right now we don’t have a mechanism in place to apply. This would provide that mechanism and could open up more opportunity for the city,” she said.

“This is a way of stimulating creative activity, while making the city’s investment go further. I’ll be interested to hear what the entire community thinks, not just the sector itself,” she said.

If the match-funding proposal did not go ahead, the city’s creative sector could still seek funding through Council’s existing grants programme. In 2020/21, around $400,000 of support is available.

During discussions in December, not all Councillors supported the match-funding proposal but the majority agreed to put it in the draft budget and seek public feedback.

Final decisions will be made once the total Long-Term Plan budget is locked down in June this year. Before then, Council will undertake a comprehensive public engagement programme on what it is proposing to spend – and when – over the next decade.

Public engagement on the Long-Term Plan will run from March 5 – April 7. More information is available at futurehamilton.co.nz.

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