MAM premiered at the NZ Festival, one of the organisations which will be affected by Covid-19. Photo: Ros Kavanagh.

What artists need to know about Creative New Zealand’s new support package

On Tuesday, Creative New Zealand announced the details of their $16 million Emergency Response Package addressing the impacts of Covid-19. Here are the specifics of it, along with some added clarity from CNZ CEO Stephen Wainwright.

Over the past two weeks, the arts community has been devastated by Covid-19. Shows, gigs, exhibitions, and concerts have all been cancelled for the foreseeable future. Entire incomes have been decimated. And while some sole traders have been able to access the wage subsidy scheme, a substantial amount of our artists and arts organisations are left facing an uncertain future.

On Friday, Creative New Zealand announced the creation of an Emergency Response Package, tailored to help artists from independent practitioners right through to their 83 investment clients, who get multi-year funding under existing schemes. More details were announced on Tuesday clarifying the package, and how the $16 million would be used to support the arts through the upcoming months, if not years.

The Spinoff spoke to CNZ CEO Stephen Wainwright about the purpose and extent of the response. Below, we’ve outlined the details of the package, how it will be actioned, and who will be able to access it.

What is in the package? 

The Emergency Response Package consists of an initial $16 million investment, which includes a $4.5 million injection of new money, and $11.5 million repurposed from other funding. This funding opens on 14 April, and will be distributed through to 30 June. A second phase of funding in this package, which will provide support beyond 30 June, will be explored at a future Arts Council meeting.

It is, as Wainwright says, the biggest crisis that he’s seen in his career in the arts, and “an extraordinary set of circumstances demands an extraordinary response”.

“The first response is to acknowledge right up front that all of these businesses’ incomes have essentially completely disappeared. And secondly, we’ve tried to pull out all the stops we can to respond in a matter of great urgency to a situation which has gone from alert level two to national emergency in a very short period of time.”

This funding has been broken up into two programs initially:

  • Resilience Grants, which are for eligible artists, arts practitioners, arts groups and arts organisations to help recover, maintain and develop their practice in this environment. These are split into Arts Continuity Grants (up to $50k) to support the creation of new work or the reframing of an existing project in light of Covid-19, and Emergency Relief Grants (up to $10k per individual) for eligible artists and arts individuals who may be experiencing a devastating loss of income.
  • Short-term Relief for Investment Clients, which includes 83 arts organisations (NZ Opera, Objectspace, Auckland Theatre Company etc.) under Kahikatea and Totara streams which guarantee organisations certain amounts of funding each year. This will give relief to those negatively impacted by Covid-19 to help stabilise their business and remain viable. These organisations employ many artists and arts practitioners.

All current funding applications with Creative New Zealand have been suspended, and these measures are intended to replace them for the foreseeable future. These rounds include the current Arts Grant round, among others. Wainwright puts it bluntly: “All of the other responsive programs that we’ve had in the marketplace we’ve deferred until there’s a more practical time to do that, because they’re not of service anymore.” 

“A fund like the Ngā Toi a Rohe fund, for example, was designed to support projects with collaboration and community engagement, which is not possible in the current environment. Anyone who has applied for any of the suspended funding programmes can apply for grants within the Emergency Response Package.”

The cast of Silo Theatre’s Upu, which was part of Auckland Arts Festival. Photo: Raymond Sagapolutele

How will it be carried out?

Applications for both grants open on 14 April.“We know that under these extraordinary circumstances, we need to be nimble enough to get this support out to our people as soon as we can,” says Wainwright. 

For Resilience Grants, quick application turnarounds are planned, with rolling weekly decisions for both the Arts Continuity Grant and Emergency Relief Grant. Assessment for the Short-term Relief for Investment Clients grant will take up to 20 working days, beginning as soon as the application is received. “We will monitor this commitment and the rapidly changing environment. We’re still working through the details and looking at how we deliver this as no doubt with the constantly changing situation, it may be readjusted to ensure our systems and resources can cope.”

Who can access these funds?

These funds are available to artists, arts practitioners, arts groups, and arts organisations. If you’re eligible to receive CNZ funding outside of these times, you’re eligible to receive it now.

“The emergency relief grants are focused on practitioners, creators, and groups who are experiencing loss of income and opportunity in an uncertain future, so that’s not just a narrow view of a practitioner who was supposed to be in a show that was pulled from a theatre. That includes the broader ecology of producers and if it’s an online platform that can no longer do criticism of work because there’s no work to criticise. It’s really to try to sustain as far as we can within the resources we have with the broad ecology. It’s all part of something that matters.”

Wainwright can’t confirm ringfencing of funds between independents and non-investment clients. Ringfencing, in a funding context, means that a pool of money is guaranteed for a certain organisation or purpose. “We will be as even-handed and as fair as we can, and we will try and minimize harm across the board. But I can’t prescribe that in advance of what we receive.”

There’s also the issue of emerging artists, many of whom were struggling to get on the funding track before Covid-19 hit. 

“With scarce resources, we’re interested in people who have credentials as artists. We’re working with highly conducive funding. We’re interested as we always are in supporting emerging, mid-career, and senior, but there might be different cuts of the program that have more spending for different people in their careers. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

That’s not to say that anybody is cut out of the funding pie though. “The intention is also to support practitioners across the spectrum from emerging to senior because they’re all in the same boat, which is that their prospects have been hugely curtailed by this bloody virus. We want as far as we can to get all these boats on the tide of our Emergency Relief Package.”

The bottom line for Wainwright, and CNZ, is this: “We’re abandoning business as usual to pull out all the stops to deliver this emergency package to where it most needs to go to sustain the viability of the arts ecology.”

You can find more details about this package, including how to apply, on Creative New Zealand’s website here


Join The Spinoff Members for as little as $1 to help us continue our work and cover the stories that matter. Get a free Toby Morris-designed tea towel when you contribute $80 or more over a year.


The Spinoff is made possible by the generous support of the following organisations.
Please help us by supporting them.