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Creative New Zealand Adds $13m To Initial Emergency Arts Funding

Creative New Zealand has dug deep to respond to the extraordinary volume of applications for its COVID-19 Emergency Response Package, investing an additional $13 million in its now closed first phase of arts funding.

Arts Council leadership on Friday (5 June) approved the organisation drawing on further reserves to increase its total Phase 1 investment from $16 million to $29 million.

“Demand for our Phase 1 emergency support has increasingly accelerated since we opened the opportunities in mid-April and, to support the sector as best we can, we’re going to almost double the initial $16 million allocation,” says Arts Council Chair Michael Moynahan.

“We said we would draw further on reserves if necessary, and we have.”

This additional investment is timely. Results announced last Friday (5 June) took the total approved funding beyond the initial $16 million, with decisions yet to be made on remaining applications across the three opportunities (Arts Continuity Grant—contestable short-term project funding, Emergency Relief Grant—loss of income top-up, and Short-term Relief for Investment Clients).

“In the seven weeks that Phase 1 was open, we received triple the number of applications we would normally receive in an entire year across our funding programmes, including a full year’s worth of applications in the last week,” says Creative New Zealand Chief Executive Stephen Wainwright.

Creative New Zealand closed the Arts Continuity Grant and Emergency Relief Grant opportunities early due to increasing demand, giving the sector notice and expecting a rush of applications, but the response exceeded all expectations.

“We’re doing all we can to process the high volume of remaining applications in a timely and fair way, and the increased budget will help us invest in more arts projects than initially anticipated. Given the overall number of applications, including the significant late surge, it will be a highly contested process,” Stephen says.

Creative New Zealand will review assessed applications against a higher threshold, to ensure decisions don’t extend beyond the increased budget, as there is no further opportunity to increase the Phase 1 funding.

“From day one, we’ve considered all applications with great care and attention, with experienced external assessors working to a shortened assessment process. To continue making fast decisions for the arts community and ensure we can do our best to continue to distribute funds as fairly and efficiently as we can, we’ll work to a more streamlined process within a more constrained budgetary context,” says Stephen.

The organisation will continue to announce results on Friday afternoons, except this Friday (12 June) due to the need for staff to focus on further streamlining processes. Notification of final decisions for Arts Continuity Grant applications are expected on 10 July and for Emergency Relief Grant applications by late June. Creative New Zealand’s Investment Services team is working directly with investment clients who have applied for the Short-term Relief for Investment Clients, and is on track to process proposals by the end of June.

The recently announced government funding boost of $25 million relates to the next two financial years, starting July 2020. This injection will enable Creative New Zealand to continue to provide funding to support the arts sector to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. Creative New Zealand aims to announce the shape of its Phase 2 response by the end of June 2020.

Phase 1 stats at a glance:

  • The $16.6 million funding approved so far (as at 5 June) includes:
  • $8.6 million for 345 Arts Continuity Grants (contestable funding for short-term projects)
  • Just over $7 million for 1,851 emerging and experienced artists and practitioners through the Emergency Relief Grant (support for loss of income)
  • Almost $1 million for Short-term Relief for Investment Clients
  • On 20 March Creative New Zealand announced it was drawing $4.5 million from reserves to kick start an emergency response to COVID-19 for the arts community. On 24 March it confirmed a further $11.5 million, taking its total initial investment to $16 million. On Tuesday 9 June it confirmed a further $13 million, taking its total investment to $29 million (for Phase 1).
  • Creative New Zealand receives on average 1,480 applications annually across all its funding programmes (based on the last four years).
  • In the seven weeks the Emergency Response Grants and the Arts Continuity Grants programmes were open, Creative New Zealand received a whopping 4,539 applications – with 1,642 of those applications received in the week leading up to the closing date.
  • The Arts Council laid a framework for Phase 2 of Creative New Zealand’s COVID-19 response at its 29 April meeting, enabling the organisation to begin initial planning from then.

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