Wayfaring through this Delta COVID uncertainty

1 Sep 2021

This content is tagged as All Artforms .

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Stephen Wainwright
Posted by Stephen Wainwright

Chief Executive - Pou Whakahaere

He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tāngata!

For the arts, we know that COVID-19 is terrifically harmful – with the ability of people to gather being central to so much of the making, distribution and engagement of arts experiences, and of course commercial opportunities.

Here at Creative New Zealand, we’re very mindful of the multi-pronged impact this latest Delta outbreak brings with it and the myriad consequences that come with the higher alert levels . We’ll continue to do what we can to mitigate harm with our resources.

I know many of you will have questions about what potential support we can provide the arts community during this latest lockdown, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to share a few things with you.

We’ve been talking with the Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatū Taonga, and Minister Sepuloni has met with Crown Entity chairs to get a quick understanding of the consequences of COVID-19 for the sector. We’re providing regular updates to the Government (via the Ministry) and offering advice where we can.

After using all of our reserves for our phase 1 Emergency Response, in the Government’s May 2020 budget, we welcomed the one-off Government support and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage support, (with proactive Ministerial support) taking a pivotal role backed with significant resources. All of this enabled our arts and culture community to get through with minimal long-term damage to the people and the arts infrastructure.

The different context now

When COVID-19 arrived in 2020, we were all kind of mugged by it – it was a new thing that we didn’t see coming. Aside from Sci-Fi movies, ‘pandemic’ was not a word in our lexicon, nor was COVID-19 for that matter. When the pandemic first struck, we moved quickly to support our sector, using the bulk of our reserves to do so.

Over the past 15 months, we’ve seen a lot of quick learning and adaptation. While it’s collectively exhausting being in this re-cycle, it’s our new normal. Delta hit quickly but we’ve learnt to re-programme, re-budget, Zoom/Zui/Zono, pivot and innovate. I’ve received many welcome invitations which have allowed me to digitally engage with the arts.

At Creative New Zealand, our focus in the third phase of our COVID-19 response is largely about future-proofing our programmes so that recipients of our support can do their work in different COVID-contexts. We’ve also learned to tilt to digital, with our Nui te Kōrero leadership conference this June going online following alert level changes in Wellington.

As we drew heavily on our reserves last year to support the sector with our COVID-19 response, this year we don’t have as much pūtea (money) to do anything new – you can only spend your reserves once! Thankfully, the broader support ecology is richer now than it was in March 2020. And as I mentioned above, we’re regularly advising government.

As I mentioned in my last blog, the Government is offering some income support:

  • A wage subsidy is available to all New Zealand businesses and self-employed people that meet eligibility criteria – take a look on the WINZ website.
  • The COVID-19 Resurgence Support Payment (RSP) is a payment to help support viable and ongoing businesses or organisations due to a COVID-19 alert level increase to level 2 or higher – more on the Inland Revenue website.

The Ministry of Health has some information and tools to support your own and others’ mental wellbeing and where to get help if you or your loved ones need it.

The trend looks like it’s our friend

Assuming that normalisation of life at alert level 1 is the goal, it’s encouraging that as spring beckons, the worst early fears from this Delta outbreak look to be pessimistic. Infections look to be flattening out and if history is any guide, we’ll carefully work our way down the levels when it’s safe to do so. For our Auckland whānau this looks like it will take a while longer; kia kaha.

The arts matter to many people and communities, and we know that to flourish we need to be at level 1. We can all play a role in getting to this more sustainable space by encouraging our communities of interest to get their jabs, as an immunised community is the best weapon we have against Delta.

He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tāngata!

Nā Stephen Wainwright
Chief Executive - Pou Whakahaere