Our advocacy work promotes the value of the arts and empowers the arts sector to make the case for the arts.

Many of our Creative New Zealand whānau and teams advocate for the arts as part of their work. Our dedicated Advocacy team, guided by our Advocacy Strategy and our wider strategic direction, works towards four central advocacy pou (pillars). These are outlined below.

National and public facing arts advocacy engagement

Delivering advocacy work alongside local government

Articulating the positive impact of the arts on the social wellbeing of communities 

Convening and supporting arts sector advisory group, Te Rōpū Mana Toi

  • We convene an independent group of sector leaders to advise and advance arts advocacy work at the national level.  

  • We listen and learn from the group’s unique perspectives of the arts sector’s challenges, opportunities and priorities – and let this inform our work, building toward a collective arts advocacy movement.

Te Rōpū Mana Toi members:
Image L to R: Elise Sterback, Jeremy Mayall, Kim Morton, Gretchen La Roche, Tānemahuta Gray, Megan Peacock-Coyle, Karl Chitham, Pati Umaga, Dolina Wehipeihana, Rosabel Tan.

At the heart of our advocacy strategy is a commitment to working with allies to advance the case for the arts across community and society. Te Rōpū Mana Toi brings together artists, practitioners, managers and directors from around Aotearoa who have been identified as strong advocates for arts and culture across a wide range of artforms and kaupapa.

Te Rōpū Mana Toi members:

  • Dolina Wehipeihana Ngāti Tukorehe, Ngāti Raukawa (Kaiārahi Māori, PANNZ; General Manager, Kia Mau Festival; Chair, Atamira Dance Company, Co-Director Betsy & Mana Productions)

  • Elise Sterback (Trustee, Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi; PhD candidate, Centre for Arts and Social Transformation, University of Auckland)

  • Gretchen La Roche (CE, Chamber Music New Zealand; Trustee, Te Tairāwhiti Festival; Trustee, Dame Malvina Major Foundation)

  • Jeremy Mayall (CEO, Creative Waikato; composer)

  • Karl Chitham Nga Puhi, Te Uriroroi. (Head of Arts and Culture, Hutt City Council; Director, The Dowse Art Museum; Co-Chair, CIRCUIT Aotearoa; Trustee, Wairau Māori Art Gallery)

  • Kim Morton (Director, Ōtautahi Creative Spaces)

  • Megan Peacock-Coyle (Manager Arts & Culture, Hastings District Council; Co-Chair of Performing Arts Network of New Zealand)

  • Fonoti Pati Umaga (Musician and disability advocate; Trustee, Pacific Music Awards)

  • Rosabel Tan (Director, Satellites; freelance writer, strategist and producer; Trustee, Silo Theatre; Auckland Council Public Arts Advisory Panel member; Secretary, The Pantograph Punch)

  • Tānemahuta Gray Ngāi Tahu, Rangitāne, Tainui/Waikato (whāngai). (Kahukura/CEO, Taki Rua Productions, G8 – Ngā Hua Toi, Ngā Kaiwhakahaere – Māori Advisory Board for Toi Whakaari, Kaupapa Māori tutor – New Zealand School of Dance)

Te Rōpū Mana Toi has developed a series of vision statements to guide its own agenda. These focus on the role of the arts in wellbeing, an arts ecosystem fit for Aotearoa, creative pathways in education, and the essential role of the arts and artists in society. Collectively they drive toward a vision of a country where all communities can enjoy the benefits of arts, culture and creativity.

More in our news item Te Ropu Mana Toi extends its reach and develops its vision.

Advocacy toolkit 

Our arts advocacy toolkit helps you talk about the value of the arts to New Zealand so people are more likely to support the arts in all its forms.

Creating and experiencing art makes a big difference to our economic, cultural and social well-being. People are more likely to support the arts when they know this. For more information read our Advocacy Strategy 2016–2021.

Recent work 

A selection of some of our recent mahi.

Pere. That's why | Ngā taku kaingākau ki is a social media advocacy campaign we launched in November 2021 amplifying voices from the arts community to encourage vaccination. The campaign featured well-known voices from the arts community sharing their ‘why’: why they do what they do, why they love their creative practice, and why they choose to be vaccinated. The campaign aimed to support the arts and culture sector to gather, present and delivery work safely again.

All in for Arts He waka toi e eke noa nei tātou is a regional advocacy tour in partnership with The Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi. Together we travel around the country to reveal, gather and share stories from New Zealanders about the value and impact that arts, culture and creativity has on their lives and communities. Our second regional tour (scheduled for September 2021) was postponed due to the COVID-19 Delta outbreak. We plan to be back on the road in March 2022.

Thankful for Art (#TFA) is a public advocacy campaign we ran during New Zealand’s initial nationwide lockdown (March – May 2021). We worked with well-known artists and arts supporters from across Aotearoa to celebrate the ways that the arts helped get us through lockdown, and shared how New Zealanders could engage with, support and participate in the arts during an uncertain time.

Arts and Culture: part of your community’s future is a publication that provides guidance on ways territorial authorities can continue to support arts and culture through their long-term plans, and why doing so is important. We this guidance to every council and shared it with the arts sector to help them engage in their council's 2021 long-term plan consultation.

The LGNZ Conference 2021 included a cultural wellbeing session supported by Creative New Zealand, which focused on creativity as a driver for community wellbeing. Arts Council Chair Caren Rangi spoke alongside Rangi Kipa, Meg Williams, Elisapeta Heta and Sandra Hazlehurst. We also continued our support of the annual Creative New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award, to celebrate the leadership role of local councils and their work to promote the wellbeing of our communities.



Watch Carens’ session at at LGNZ 2021.
Read Carens’ blog: Creativity as a driver for wellbeing

Our submission advocating for arts in infrastructure was presented to the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission Te Waihanga on its discussion document He Tūāpapa ki te Ora—Infrastructure for a Better Future. It encourages Te Waihanga to recognise the unique contribution arts and culture can make to enhancing infrastructure, as the Commission develops a national Infrastructure Strategy.

In support of Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 and 2021 we have run social media campaigns highlighting how the arts, culture and creativity support the many aspects of our wellbeing. We published an evidence resource outlining some of the research around the impact of the arts on wellbeing, and the current Chair of the Arts Council has published a blog sharing their personal reflections on the role of the arts in wellbeing each year.

Read Caren Rangi’s blog: Connecting, reflecting and comforting – what arts and culture can do for wellbeing

Read Michael Moynahan’s blog: Using the arts and creativity to reimagine wellbeing


Supporting your arts community through COVID-19: He Waka Eke Noa is a publication that provides guidance for territorial authorities on how to support local artists, creative workers, arts groups and organisations through COVID-19 and into the future. It includes suggestions around communicating with arts communities, funding, venues, regulatory levers, planning and promoting cultural wellbeing. We sent this guidance to every council and shared it with the arts sector to support their own discussions with local councils.

Key Messages 

Our Advocacy Strategy 2016–2021 sets out our five-year strategy to advocate for the positive contribution that art and artists make to New Zealanders’ lives.

The strategy has five key messages. We invite anyone advocating for the arts in Aotearoa to layer these messages into your own advocacy:

The arts matter for happy and healthy people

Involvement in the arts improves personal health and well-being, including helping people to understand and adapt to the world around them, and inspiring, stimulating and raising life aspirations. They also build individual skills and talents, and instil a sense of self-worth, confidence and personal achievement.

The arts matter for talented and creative people

Arts learning fosters critical thinking, using language and symbols, managing self, relating to others, and participating and contributing. It helps build the skills modern societies need to thrive, including empathy, creativity, problem-solving and teamwork.

The arts matter for strong and prosperous communities

The arts allow communities to come together and express shared values and beliefs. They help build social cohesion, community resilience and the rejuvenation of communities suffering from long-term economic deprivation, population decline and following natural disasters. The arts work for our businesses and economy by creating jobs, promoting spending and attracting people to our communities. They also help to make our communities more inclusive and explore our connection to the natural environment.

The arts matter for our identities

The arts are an important way for people and communities to explore and express their identities, individually and collectively, which also helps build more cohesive communities. The arts help us understand our own humanity and reinforce shared human connections. Participation in the arts produces a more engaged citizenry and promotes civic participation, and the arts provide an accessible forum for discussing society’s challenges and opportunities.

The arts matter to New Zealanders every day

New Zealanders overwhelmingly demonstrate that they care about the arts and value the role of the arts in our society. Key insights from the 2020 New Zealanders and the Arts research include: New Zealanders are more positive than ever about the vital role the arts play in our lives; the arts are making a powerful contribution to New Zealanders’ wellbeing, and are helping us get through COVID-19; more New Zealanders appreciate the arts’ powerful role in connecting whānau and communities; and the arts are helping more of us explore and build our own sense of identity, as well as growing our connections with other New Zealanders.

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