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Arts Funding Monsoon - But Will It Dry Up?

"The arts funding package announced today is not pennies from heaven - it's a monsoon," says National's Culture and Heritage spokesman Simon Upton.

"Even if the $27.8 million for New Zealand on Air is taken out (which it should be, since it was previously committed expenditure) a funding increase of over $50 million in the first year of the package is a huge bonanza.

"These are sums of money only an Arts Minister who was also Prime Minister could extract in a Budget round.

"As an arts enthusiast I am selfishly delighted - but I have to question whether such a large amount will be wisely spent in such a short time," Mr Upton says.

"I fully support the additional funding for Te Papa, the NZSO, the Royal New Zealand Ballet, the Film Archive and the Christchurch Art Gallery. All are institutions which have established their worth and would have been funded under National.

"But the $20 million increase destined for Creative New Zealand is almost certainly far larger than anything a National government would have spent. The same goes for the new $22 million Film Production Fund.

"I'll be looking very hard to see what performance standards the Government sets for those agencies and how it intends to judge whether they deliver on those standards.

"The real question is whether this spend up is sustainable. It comes at a high point in the Government's finances with a surplus which is far higher than was expected.

The test will be whether the Government can sustain that when the economy turns down and the surplus shrinks as it assuredly will," Simon Upton says.

Ends

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