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How you can advocate

By collectively promoting the economic, cultural and social value of the arts we can help people make decisions that support the arts. 

They will do this because they know:

  • the arts matter to New Zealanders 
  • the arts sector is a significant size
  • the arts can help address social issues.

Here are some practical things you can do to advocate for the value of the arts:

Tell businesses about the value of the arts

Many local businesses are looking for ways to show support for their community.  Showing them how their community benefits from the arts may encourage them to support arts projects. 

The decision to support a project is often based on the interest or passion of a key person. Research which businesses and individuals are worth approaching and what ‘value proposition’ they are most interested in, eg supporting young people, local community building, or an association with excellence.   Look at what else they support and be prepared to show them what you are doing that is similar. 

Make time to visit in person.  Provide information that shows what you do, or intend to do, and how this will benefit their community and their business. Be clear about what you are asking from the business and what you will offer them in return.  Businesses will look for a return on their investment, eg visible branding and the opportunity to pass on unique benefits to staff and clients. 

Not sure what to say when you approach a business? 

Here are some examples of what a business may be interested in knowing:

  • Many people in your company/organisation volunteer their time so you can bring affordable <<artform>> to as many people as possible
  • The people involved in your productions/exhibitions gain confidence and skills which they use in their work and personal lives
  • Your project will provide entertainment and a place for your community to meet
  • Your work provides outreach programmes for schools
  • Your organisation has a reputation for excellence in its productions
  • You organisation consistently demonstrates innovation and creativity

Here are some examples of what you could offer a business

  • Opportunities for their staff to attend or be involved in the production
  • Opportunities to bring their clients to a community event they have supported
  • Opportunities to showcase their services or expertise
  • Opportunities to have their brand associated with your project through advertising and promotion

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Tell private funders about the value of the arts

Like businesses, the decision by an individual to donate to the arts is often based on a personal interest or passion. Research which individuals are worth approaching.  Look at what value proposition attracts them, what else they support and be prepared to show them what you are doing that is similar.  

Make time to visit in person.  Provide information that clearly shows what you do, or intend to do, and how this will benefit their area of personal interest.  

Explain how this will benefit the wider community.  Draw from the statements and evidence available here.  Be clear about what you are asking from them.  Some private funders will want to be visibly acknowledged, while others prefer to remain anonymous. 

For more information on how to identify, approach and work with private funders:

  • The Arts Foundation Boosted website provides more helpful tips on how to identify, approach and build relationships with potential private funders.
  • Philanthropy New Zealand provides practical advice to everyone with an interest in giving.

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Tell local councillors and mayors about the value of the arts

Regional, district and city councillors represent their communities and decide the funding priorities for their council.

Before making contact, research which councillors and mayors have an interest in the arts.  Arrange a meeting or invite them to see your work.  Any contact is an opportunity to show them that investing in the arts benefits their community. 

Stay in touch by inviting them to events and giving them updates on what you are doing. They receive many invites and a lot of correspondence so keep yours relevant and short.   

You will usually find contact details for your mayor and councillors on the council website.

Not sure what to say when you approach your local councillor or mayor?  Here’re are some examples of what they may be interested in knowing.

  • Your project involves many people in their community on <<issue relevant to our community>>
  • Your project has support from local businesses who have volunteered their time and expertise
  • Your project is a great opportunity for people in their community to meet and enjoy an event
  • Your projects regularly attracts an audience of <<number>> including <<number>> from outside their region or city
  • The arts help to attract people to their city/region because they improve  well-being and quality-of-life
  • Highly-skilled people are attracted to places with a good quality-of-life. A vibrant arts scene is part of that.
  • Plus other suggestions on how to approach business 

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Make a submission to your local council’s planning processes

Local councils frequently ask for submissions on specific issues or projects, as well as their planning documents such as long-term plans, annual plans and sector strategies – some of which affect the arts. Anyone can provide feedback. 

Long terms plans and annual plans are particularly important for the future of the arts in your region.  They set out your local council's projects and budget for 10 years and are reviewed and updated every three years.  Local councils are currently drafting their long-term plans for the period 2015-2025 and will be seeking consultation. 

An annual plan is published between long-term plans and outlines prioritised activities and projects, intended service levels, funding information and financial policies.  Annual plans refresh the information for the coming year and consult with the community on any proposed changes.

Creative New Zealand will endeavour to alert the sector of relevant issues arising and will share our submission whenever possible.

Visit your Local Councils website to see when consultation will take place. 

Both formal and informal consultation processes are a chance to have your say on issues that affect the arts in your region.  Here are some ways you can make the most of these opportunities.

Making a submission

In writing

Submissions must clearly and succinctly explain your views.  Draw from the statements and evidence available here to support your views or include your own examples to illustrate your point.

The local council will tell you how to make your submission and by when. Submissions must be received by the due date. 

Formal consultations will be notified in the public notices of your local newspaper and on the council’s website. Your submission will be made public as part of a hearing report and you may be invited to attend a public hearing to speak about your submission.

Informal consultations are when the council identifies who is likely to be affected by a decision and will ask for feedback on their draft plans and policies. The council will prepare a summary report from feedback received and your contact details won't be made public. Informal submissions will often shape the development of a draft plan that will later go out for formal consultation.

Attending a public meeting

Presenting your views in person can be very persuasive if done well. It also allows councillors to ask questions that will help clarify points in your submission.  A council officer will notify you of the time and place for the meeting and how much time you have for your submission. 

When it is time for you to speak you should give a brief summary of your submission. You should not read the whole submission, nor should you use this as an opportunity to talk about different issues. A brief well-constructed presentation will keep people interested.

Hearings are open to the public and the media are also invited. Council officers will take notes and answer questions. Sometimes, the hearing is also filmed or taped. You will be advised if this is happening at the hearing.

Speaking to your local representative

Your local board members and councillors are elected to represent their community and achieve the best outcome for their community.

Your written submission and presentation will be helped if you get support in advance from elected representatives who are hearing submissions. A proactive, friendly approach to establishing a relationship is beneficial.  Refer above Tell local councillors and mayors about the value of the arts.

Participating in online surveys

Some Councils, eg. Auckland Council, conduct online surveys on a range of issues.  You can sign up to participate in surveys that are of relevance to the arts or your local community.

Signing up to stakeholder mailing lists

Some Councils, eg Auckland Council, have stakeholder mailing lists. You will be notified of consultations taking place that are relevant to the arts or to your local community and provided with updates, where appropriate.

Not sure how to write a submission?  Here are copies of previous submissions made by Creative New Zealand.

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Tell MPs about the value of the arts

Electorate MPs are keen to engage with the people in their electorate. They will usually have a local office and staff to help them with their duties. 

Contact your MP at their electorate office and liaise with their staff to arrange a meeting or invite them to see your work. This may include a photo opportunity for media, but advise your MP in advance if you are doing this. Any contact with your MP is an opportunity to show them that investing in the arts benefits their community.

Stay in touch with your MP. Continue to invite them to events and provide them with regular updates on what you are doing. They receive many invites and a lot of correspondence so keep yours relevant and succinct. 

You can find out who your local MP is by visiting the New Zealand Parliament website.

MPs who are also Cabinet Ministers

Some MPs are also Cabinet Ministers. Cabinet is the central decision-making body of government. If your MP is also a Cabinet Minister, they will be in a stronger position to act as a voice to support the arts in Parliament. They may also be harder to reach because of their additional duties.

For a list of Ministers visit the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

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Tell Select Committees about the value of the arts

Select committees are small working groups, made up of MPs. They deal with specific issues and report their conclusions. Select committees can call for public submissions, particularly for a specific inquiry or before a parliamentary bill proceeds into law.  

There are 13 subject-area select committees, plus any number of ad hoc committees. Matters relating to the arts are normally overseen by the Government Administration Committee, which is responsible for cultural affairs.  

You can find out about topics or issues being dealt with by select committees by visiting the New Zealand Parliament website. You will also find the schedule of meeting dates and the business items that will be considered at each meeting, along with the closing date by which written submissions must be received. 

Creative New Zealand will endeavour to alert the sector of relevant issues arising at select committees and will share our submission with you whenever possible.

Making a submission

In writing:

Your submission should be clear, concise, accurate and relevant to the business of the select committee. You should include the following information:

  • A logical heading
  • Your name and contact details and if you wish to appear before the committee
  • What you aim to achieve by making the submission
  • Who you have consulted with informing the submission
  • Your argument laid out clearly and logically, providing robust evidence where possible
  • A conclusion restating your recommendations

Appearing before the committee: 

Appearing in person can be persuasive if done well. It also allows the committee to ask questions that will clarify points in your submission. Committee staff will notify you of the time and place for the meeting. It may be at short notice. They will also advise how much time you have for your submission and you should stay within this time limit. 

Before the meeting:

  • Attend an earlier meeting to observe other submissions being presented.
  • Prepare your oral presentation so you are able to present all relevant points and allow enough time for questions.

At the meeting:

  • Introduce yourself to the committee, addressing the chair directly. 
  • At all times be respectful to the committee members and the formalities and protocols of the meeting. Address the chair and other members with the courtesy that you would hope to receive in return.
  • Briefly, summarise the main points of your submission along with any recommendations.

After your presentation:

  • You may be asked questions.
  • You may be asked for further information to be provided within an agreed timeframe following the meeting.

To learn more about making a submission read Making a submission to a parliamentary select committee published by New Zealand House of Representatives.

Here are examples of previous submissions made by Creative New Zealand.

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Tell the media about the value of the arts

Getting a relevant story into the media can help communicate the benefits of the arts to MP's councillors, businesses, private funders, local communities and the general public. Do research to find out which journalists cover news about the arts and contact them.  Don’t underestimate the value of local newspapers and radio. While smaller, they reflect local issues and reach the community.

Look for an interesting or topical angle. You can either sell the story idea as a chance to interview the people involved or send them a press release, which involves less work for the reporter. Either way, providing an exciting photo or filming opportunity will make your project more appealing.

Positioning leaders or artists as spokespeople strengthen your message and a good spokesperson will help get your story into the news.

Not sure how to write a media release?  Here are some examples from Creative New Zealand.

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Empower your supporters to promote the benefits of the arts

These are the people who want to see you succeed. Many voices are better than one and the more people promoting the benefit of your arts activity, the more powerful the message will be.

You can empower your supporters by telling them about the benefit you provide so they can share these stories with their family, friends and colleagues. For arts organisations, your Board Members and staff can act as effective advocates.

We asked some arts organisation Board Members why they support the arts. 

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Tell your audiences about the value of the arts

For artists

When promoting your own art, identify opportunities to talk about how public and private investment in the arts has helped your career and how you work with your community.

Use your professional and social networks to tell people why the arts are valuable to New Zealand, drawing on the statements and evidence provided about the value of the arts. 

Use social media to initiate discussion about the value of the arts and contribute your ideas.

For arts organisations

Include content about the value of the arts on your website, in press releases, during event speeches and through other print material, drawing on the statements and evidence about the value of the arts and your own impact assessments.

Use social media to initiate discussion about the value of the arts and contribute examples from your own organisation’s impact assessments.

If Creative New Zealand has provided funding, it helps the wider sector if you can show the benefits of this public funding of the arts.   

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Record and communicate stories about the economic and social impact of your own arts programme or activity

Building your own evidence to demonstrate the effect of your arts activity will help your advocacy efforts. You could also make this available to other artists and arts organisations so that the wider sector can benefit from further evidence on the value of the arts in New Zealand. If you are willing to make your research available to others through this website, please email media@creativenz.govt.nz.

Measuring impact

There are a number of ways that economic impact can be measured.  Choosing the right way is not easy.  Arts Council England has published a helpful guide for arts organisations thinking about undertaking research to demonstrate their economic impact.

Another approach is measuring the social return on investment (SROI).  Again, this can be very complicated and time-consuming.  But in principle, this approach is increasingly popular.  Here is an example of SROI research report completed by Auckland Council for Auckland Museum’s Moana My Ocean Exhibition.

Writing case studies

Case studies tell personal stories and are a powerful way of illustrating the value of the arts, particularly the social value. People identify with them and they provide a practical demonstration of their theory. Done well, they can capture people’s hearts and minds by telling stories about the positive impact on the lives of individuals and a community. Case studies should focus on a specific organisation, programme or activity and should include information about:

  • What social impacts the programme was intending to achieve
  • How you went about achieving this
  • What were the outcomes, how did it benefit the people participating
  • What did you learn?

Here’s some example of case studies 

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