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National Gives Arts And Culture Room To Flourish

The National Party has outlined a policy to allow the arts and culture to flourish in New Zealand without heavy-handed political interference, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley said today.

Speaking at a function at Lopdel House in Titirangi, Auckland, Mrs Shipley said New Zealand was a recognised brains trust whose creativity and ingenuity was sought after by the world.

"Our artists, writers and performers have now reached critical mass and National is ready to help them go global and market ourselves to the world.

"Our goals to achieve this outcome are:

· To allow the soul of New Zealand to speak for itself. · To collaborate with our artists in unfolding the New Zealand spirit. · To decolonise our national identity so Maori and non-Maori can stand together as New Zealand citizens and look the world in the eye. · To create genuine civic space for artists so they are integrated into the life of the nation. · To make the Culture and Heritage Ministry into a real Ministry of National Identity.

"National has an arms-length funding arrangement for arts and culture that ensures the freedom of our artists and performers without political interference.

"However, National does recognise the importance of the arts and its economic and marketing value, which is why we will place the Minister of Culture and Heritage into the Economic Ministers team. This will help our arts and culture industries to utilise the skills and firepower of the finance portfolios."

Mrs Shipley said National would not support putting beneficiaries on the community wage because that would create a bad environment for our artists and performers.

"Putting artists on benefits will create two tiers of beneficiary artists: the "established" artists outside of the benefit system and unknown artists trapped on it.

"Why should we categorise our best creative minds as unemployable and write that into policy?

"We believe the best way is to maintain our funding and support of the arts and to encourage ongoing support from the corporate and business sector which has made a tremendous commitment to New Zealand artists, writers and performers."

Mrs Shipley said the arts had thrived in the current environment because it was industry-driven, not Government-driven.

"The way forward is not with welfare, but with sensible, practical funding arrangements that allow the industry to determine its own direction and future. National is offering that."

ENDS


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