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PM's Address To Arts Foundation Laureate Awards

Rt Hon Helen Clark Prime Minister

Address at Arts Foundation Laureate Awards

St James Theatre Wellington

7.00 pm

Wednesday 10 November 2004

E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi o te motu, tena koutou katoa. Good evening to Richard Cathie and fellow trustees of the Arts Foundation, fellow members of Parliament, Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast, distinguished artists, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for coming to this very important evening for the arts in New Zealand.

Firstly I would like to offer my congratulations to Concert FM for being awarded the Arts Foundation Governor’s Award tonight. The government is very proud of your achievements and of your commitment to New Zealand music.

It’s often said that our creative people help define us as a nation, and that through them we can express our unique national identity. Awards like these are helping to bring greater recognition of the value of arts and culture to our country.

The awards themselves are also testimony to the renaissance we are seeing across the arts and culture in New Zealand. The sector is flourishing as never before – whether it be in music, dance, on screen, in the visual arts, in indigenous arts, on canvas and paper, in print, or in design.

This renaissance has important intrinsic benefits, but there are also significant economic benefits which flow from a strong creative sector. The creative industry sector contributes to sustainable economic growth and employment - and the jobs it creates are jobs people love doing.

I am now meeting many artists who, for the first time, have the confidence to devote themselves full time to their work. Many say they feel that the arts are more valued than in the past, and that being involved in the arts is seen as a worthwhile occupation.

That is one reason why it is so appropriate that alongside government funding for arts and culture lies private support through philanthropy and sponsorship – the benefits from a healthy creative sector are both public and private in nature. The Foundation’s work has been made possible by a public-private partnership - and without such partnerships the current renaissance in arts and culture in New Zealand would be much diminished.

For the arts to succeed, they need champions and patrons, and many such people are involved with the Foundation. I would like to particularly thank the principal sponsors of the Laureate Awards, Forsyth Barr, and tonight’s supporting sponsor, Westpac, for their ongoing commitment to New Zealand arts.

The Arts Foundation Laureate Awards have become an eagerly-anticipated event on New Zealand’s cultural calendar. They provide an opportunity for those in the creative sector to have their work evaluated by a respected panel alongside that of many others. To become a laureate is a great distinction. It enables the laureate’s work to become better known, and it can be a turning point in, or a launching pad for a full time arts career. In a sector where the financial rewards are often not great, the prize money is especially welcome!

The list of past recipients of these awards tells us that the standard of excellence achieved by this year’s laureates is exceptionally high. All laureates are people at the forefront of their chosen field and are fully deserving of the public recognition being bestowed upon them tonight.

I offer my congratulations to all those named tonight as 2004 Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureates.

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