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A lot of people were upset when the latest CNZ funding round closed. So what makes this so notable? (Image Design: Archi Banal)
A lot of people were upset when the latest CNZ funding round closed. So what makes this so notable? (Image Design: Archi Banal)

Pop CultureApril 27, 2023

Tech issues plague CNZ funding round as hundreds apply simultaneously

A lot of people were upset when the latest CNZ funding round closed. So what makes this so notable? (Image Design: Archi Banal)
A lot of people were upset when the latest CNZ funding round closed. So what makes this so notable? (Image Design: Archi Banal)

Another Creative New Zealand Arts Grant round opened for applications this morning – but the portal couldn’t handle the volume of applicants.

This morning at 9am sharp, Creative New Zealand opened the application portal for its latest Arts Grant funding round. It should have been a routine day for both the organisation and applicants. Instead, it has been full of stress and strife for the many applicants seeking funding that could determine their work for the foreseeable future.

An Arts Grant round is the most competitive of Creative New Zealand’s funding rounds – it funds projects between $5,000 and $75,000, and can be awarded to independent creatives, established organisations and anybody eligible in between.

This Arts Grant round is “capped” at 450 applications, meaning it will close once that amount has been submitted. While that cap is a significant rise from the previous round’s cap of 250, it still means that the round operates on a “first come, first served” basis. As of 1pm today, 255 applications had been submitted. If the previous cap had remained, this round would have closed in four hours.

Complicating matters, since the portal for this round opened, applicants have had issues saving and submitting their applications. The Big Idea, a local website that caters to the arts and culture industry, reported that creatives were having issues with the online portal, a form which CNZ requires for all of their funding applications, with some losing inputted information and being unable to save their applications, and others experiencing freezes and crashes.

It later reported an apology from CNZ:

One applicant, speaking to The Spinoff under anonymity, had to open two separate forms to submit their application as one had glitched entirely. Another had been on the phone to CNZ frontline staff, who had been “very helpful”.

A CNZ spokesperson said that the organisation has been “very aware” that today would be a busy one for the funding team and the team that runs the portal. “We’ve had the whole Systems team standing by to work through issues as they come up – this has been our top priority and we’ve planned accordingly for today’s opening round.”

Earlier this month, after a $22m injection from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, CNZ announced that this round would have a higher cap of 450, and that the two other Arts Grant rounds this year in August and October would have no caps on applications. (However, creatives and organisations can only apply twice in one year.)

Despite the glitches with the system this morning, the cap for this round remains. The CNZ spokesperson acknowledged that the cap means that applicants are submitting as early as they can, causing a lot of pressure on the system and therefore failures.

“This round has had a transitional cap of 450, as a step in the direction of removing the caps entirely in the future – we will not be able to increase this cap further for this round.”

These “capped” funding application rounds have already been the cause of much controversy and strife within the industry, with the general tenor being that it favours those who have had the time and resource to put together their applications ahead of time. The October round closed within four days, while the February round opened and closed the very same day (with hourly updates on how many applications had been started and submitted). There were more than 150 applications in draft form when the round closed. CNZ acknowledged to creatives at the time that it would be “disappointing to those of you who missed out on getting your applications in”.

As of writing, the portal gives this instruction to applicants: “If you have experienced any error messages and now your Save and/or Submit buttons are greyed out please contact portal@creativenz.govt.nz so we can help you to complete and submit your application.”

sam@thespinoff.co.nz

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