Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to questions about our funding opportunities, response to COVID-19 and overall investment plan for the 12 months July 2020 – June 2021.

You’ll also find a printable PDF within each section.

We add new questions and answers occasionally, as needed. You’ll find them at the end of the relevant section, dated for when they were added and not necessarily listed in order of importance.


To stay up-to-date about future funding opportunities and our activity, check our website for recent news items, sign-up for our epānui updates and follow us  Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Our overarching COVID-19 response (see below)

Last updated: 25 September 2020

  1. 12-month COVID-19- driven investment plan (July 2020 – June 2021)
  2. Wrap up of Phase 1 Emergency Response Package (March – June 2020)
  3. Wider Government investment in the arts

Have a read through and if you have a question that isn’t answered here or you need more information, email us at

Download the 12-month investment plan FAQs (pdf 500KB)

1. 12-month investment plan (July 2020 – June 2021)

1.1 Who’s eligible for the different opportunities? How much can I apply for?

Full details, including eligibility criteria, will be available under Funds when each opportunity opens.

We’ve developed a 12-month funding calendar to help you plan.

We’ll continue to support artists, arts practitioners and arts organisations (including groups and collectives), as well as our existing Tōtara and Kahikatea investment organisations, as they transition into a COVID-19-impacted ‘new normal’, recognising there will not be enough funding to meet the increasing demand. We’ll also deliver specific funding to the regions outside of the main centres of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can read more about eligibility in our funding guidelines

1.2 Can I (an individual) apply if I’ve never received Creative New Zealand funding before?

Yes. You can apply for funding if you've never received Creative New Zealand funding before. You will need to look at each opportunity as it opens to check the specific eligibility criteria. You’ll find opening dates in our 12-month funding calendar

Note that our funding is focused on specific artforms, listed in our funding guidelines, with further definitions in our glossary. You will need to meet the eligibility criteria detailed under each grant opportunity, and include a track record in the arts (you’ll also find guidance on track record requirements under each artform in the funding guidelines).

Track record: To be eligible for funding, an individual or arts organisation must have some experience and must have achieved recognition and success in the area of arts practice for which they’re applying for support. The level of experience, recognition and success vary according to the type of grant or investment you’re applying for.

One way to increase your experience, and give you the sort of recognition we’re looking for, can be to collaborate with more experienced practitioners or collectives on a project that supports your arts practice and will be a useful example of something you've done.

If you're unsure whether you have enough experience, contact us to speak to one of our funding advisers for guidance.

You might also find our other sources of funding information useful.

1.3 Will you have dedicated ngā toi Māori and Pacific arts funding?

Yes. There will be funding available for Māori and Pacific arts to ensure we deliver to our commitment to Māori under the Treaty of Waitangi, and the impact and relevance of a bi-cultural environment, as well as recognise the role of Pacific Island peoples and the cultural diversity of the people of New Zealand.

As well as applying under ngā toi Māori or Pacific arts categories in Arts Grants, other opportunities include:

  • Toi Ake Fund
  • Toi Tipu Toi Rea – Emerging Māori Artist Fund
  • Moana Nui a Kiva Fund (opening in 2021 subject to border restrictions)
  • Fiji and Samoa artist residencies (opening in 2021 subject to border restrictions).

You’ll find more about these opportunities in the 12-month funding calendar

The guiding principles that direct all of our investments (mandated in legislation, in the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Act 2014) are to recognise and uphold:

  • the role in the arts of Māori as tangata whenua*
  • the arts of the Pacific Island peoples of New Zealand
  • the cultural diversity of the people of New Zealand
  • participation, access, excellence, innovation, professionalism and advocacy.

*tangata whenua – “people of the land … those who have authority in a particular place”, quoting Te Ara–The Encyclopedia of New Zealand (a great source of Aotearoa New Zealand history).

Our funding decisions are guided by our Investment Strategy Te Ara Whakamua 2018–2023, which recognises and responds to the ways in which Aotearoa New Zealand is changing – such as demographic changes, including increasing diversity, recognising the role of iwi and Māori, and the imperative to deliver to under-served communities.

Aligned with this, our work is guided by our Te Hā o ngā Toi - Māori Arts Strategy 2019-2024 and our Pacific Arts Strategy 2018-2023.

We want to be flexible through this difficult time, so anticipate we’ll adjust our support accordingly.

1.4 Is there a different process if I’m a Māori or Pasifika artist, arts practitioner, arts group or arts organisation, or my work is for a Māori or Pasifika audience?

Yes, if you apply under ngā toi Māori or Pacific arts categories in Arts Grants. We’re very focused on how we support our Māori and Pacific arts communities. Your application will be assessed by Māori and/or Pacific peer assessors.

To apply to Māori arts:

  • individuals must be Tangata Whenua Māori or your proposed project must be managed or directed by Māori
  • organisations must be Māori-led. If an organisation is applying for funding on behalf of an individual, that person must also be Māori.

To apply to Pacific arts – whether you’re an individual or organisation:

  • you must be a New Zealand citizen or New Zealand permanent resident
  • your project must align to our Pacific Arts Strategy, and Kaupapa Pasifika must be evident in the practice of the project
  • non-Pacific individuals or organisations are eligible, but the project must deliver outcomes to Pacific art and artists.

Māori and Pacific artists can also choose to apply under our general funding category.

We’re committed to supporting the Māori and Pacific arts organisations that submitted an Expression of Interest in March 2020 to our developmental programme, Te Puāwaitanga. This programme remains suspended so we are offering these organisations the opportunity to apply for the new Annual Arts Grants and the new Capability Fund (the latter is only open to organisations in the Tōtara and Kahikatea investment programmes.)

We’ve also reinstated a number of ‘special opportunities’ with a focus on supporting projects that align with the Māori and Pacific arts strategies, and were suspended due to COVID-19. For example, Toi Ake Fund, Toi Tipu Toi Rea – Emerging Māori Artist Fund, and also the new Moana Nui a Kiva Fund and Pacific residencies (opening subject to border restrictions).

1.5 What consideration is there for supporting artists and arts practitioners from under-represented or at-risk groups, or the artists, arts practitioners, arts groups and arts organisations supporting people in those groups?

We’re committed to accessibility and diversity, both elements of the strategic outcomes that direct our work and reflected in the purposes of our 12-month programmes. We’re actively seeking proposals that deliver to the broadest possible range of artform, genre, artist and audience.

Our overall programme is aligned with our Diversity in the Arts policy, with funding available for work that is by, with and/or for under-represented groups.

One of the Arts Grants programme purposes is: “Opportunities for diverse communities to access and participate in high-quality arts experiences.” That purpose is aligned with our over-riding Investment Strategy Te Ara Whakamua 2018–2023, which reflects our commitment to diversity and reach as a key feature.

We work to maintain and develop:

  • Investment in a range of arts practices reflecting New Zealand’s growing diversity.
  • Investment that ensures communities across New Zealand can participate in and experience the arts, and investment that engages with under-represented communities.
  • Investment that engages with new audiences, in New Zealand and internationally.
  • Investment in the delivery of art through digital channels in order to increase arts participation and audience size.
  • Investment aligned with international opportunities that expand arts practices and demand for New Zealand arts.

1.6 Do I need to pay tax on Creative New Zealand funding?

If you have a further question, email us at

1.7 What background can you give me about your COVID-19-driven 12-month plan? (updated 4 September)

On 10 July, we announced further funding to help the arts sector adapt in uncertain and unpredictable times. It’s a 12-month plan of investment through to June 2021, with the first decisions notified in mid-September 2020.

We intend to devote the majority of the $25 million new money from the Government to this programme as we know it will continue to be a very uncertain time for our arts community.

As part of the programme, we’ve adapted our regular Arts Grants programme, offering many of the special opportunities for artists that were suspended due to COVID-19, continuing our support for key arts organisations and the Creative Communities Scheme, and adding a new initiative that encourages and incentivises regional arts development.

We designed our current 12-month investment programme (2020/2021) for an alert level 1 environment and have made some small adjustments to enable us to be consistent with the government’s response to the COVID-19 environment.

We’ll continue to comply with government advisories (including alert levels) and/or border controls and exercise our judgement regarding our programmes and funding opportunities. For this reason, when making funding decisions, we may decline a programme or project if it is not viable at the time of notification, regardless of when the project is planned to take place.

1.8 What’s the purpose of the 12-month investment plan? (updated 28 August)?

The plan includes investment in critical core infrastructure and new opportunities to support the arts sector, as it works to survive, adapt and seek new ways to engage the public in a COVID-19-impacted environment.

It’s important to note that this funding programme is part of our wider work for the next 12 months (our financial year runs from 1 July 2020 through to 30 June 2021), which includes implementing our key strategies, working with partners, and our work to advocate for the value of the arts.

The investment programme is designed to deliver to our strategic outcomes (Stronger arts; Greater public engagement with the arts; and Stronger arts sector, including building resilience), and to align with the features of our Investment Strategy Te Ara Whakamua 2018–2023, our Te Hā o ngā Toi—Māori Arts Strategy 2019–2024 and our Pacific Arts Strategy 2018–2023

The additional funding enables us to amplify those strategic outcomes and provide new opportunities, while retaining some flexibility so we’re able to manage our delivery and respond to the Government’s wider arts and music recovery package.

We‘ve also made small adjustments to be consistent with the Government’s response to COVID-19.

The programme offers key opportunities that:

  • incentivise local and regional investment in the development and presentation of new local arts activity outside the main centres (Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch) (Ngā Toi ā Rohe – Arts in the Regions Fund)
  • support artists, arts practitioners and arts organisations (including collectives and groups) to deliver a regular or continuous programme of activity over a 12-month period and/or produce or present a significant event or project (Annual Arts Grants, announced earlier in the year but suspended)
  • support transformation or significant development to organisation’s business model and/or artistic practice. (Adaptation Fund for Tōtara and Kahikatea organisations)
  • support organisations to address immediate organisational needs and to help stabilise and increase the sustainability of their businesses in response to the impacts of the COVID-19 environment. (Capability Fund for Tōtara and Kahikatea organisations)
  • provide a second phase of funding for Tōtara and Kahikatea organisations to address the ongoing financial impact of COVID-19, in addition to their contracted activity (more information mid-September).

You can watch a recording of our Special Online Hui about the programme (a live Q&A session, held on Tuesday 14 July in partnership with PANNZ and Auckland Live) on YouTube (with NZSL interpreting and captioning). This was followed by Zono (Zoom fono) with the Pacific arts community on 16 and 30 July and an initial Zui (Zoom hui) with the toi Māori community on 17 July.

We’ll share information about future online hui on our social media channels (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter). If you haven’t already, follow us on social media to receive information about these and future funding opportunities.

If you haven’t already, sign-up to receive email updates

1.9 Why are some opportunities not being offered?

We’re offering many of the funds and ‘special opportunities’ suspended due to COVID-19, including a number that align with our Māori and Pacific arts strategies.

We’re also prioritising our resources to deliver the $25 million effectively, while remaining flexible to respond to the Government’s wider arts and music recovery package, so we’re unable to offer the full range of our usual opportunities or initiatives over this next 12-month period.

There are more opportunities and boosted funding for those core aspects of the programme, including our regular Arts Grants programme. We’ve re-instated funds that had to be suspended earlier in the year while we focused on our initial COVID-19 emergency response. This includes the previously announced Annual Arts Grants (supporting annual planning and significant projects/events) and the new Ngā Toi ā Rohe – Arts in the Regions Fund (supporting regional and community arts infrastructure).

1.10 Where is the funding coming from? (updated 28 August)

Creative New Zealand intends to devote the additional $25 million in new money announced by the Government in May to this programme of investment. This is additional to our annual investment, which will be confirmed by the Arts Council at the end of August as part of finalising its 2020/21 budget (this is done every year in August).

We continue to share our sector knowledge and connections with Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage, as they work to develop the Government’s wider $175 million arts and music recovery package. Once we have a better understanding of our role in supporting aspects of this package we will communicate with the sector.

1.11 What consultation did you do to develop the programme?

The programme has been designed to align with our guiding strategies, which were developed in consultation with the arts community. This ensures that we continue to recognise and respond to the needs of the arts in Aotearoa New Zealand within a challenging and changing environment.

We’ve been engaging with the sector as part of the delivery of Phase 1 of our COVID-19 response (our Emergency Response Package, with delivery completed in mid-July), and have incorporated feedback from this phase into the design of the new programme of investment.

1.12 What’s the difference between this and the Phase 1 Emergency Response Package?

Phase 1 was an emergency response, to support the arts sector when it was suddenly unable to work (for example, due to limits on mass gatherings and then lockdown). This 12-month programme is about supporting the sector to survive and adapt to a ‘new normal’, in an environment that still has challenges and uncertainties due to COVID-19.

We’ll continue to support artists and arts practitioners and arts organisations (including groups and collectives), as they transition into a COVID-19-impacted ‘new normal’ – focusing on the area we’re the most uniquely placed to provide support: arts development.

In delivering this new 12-month programme we’re:

  • incorporating learnings and feedback from our Phase 1 response, by providing opportunities for support that remain efficient, effective and flexible, as well as sustainable for our organisation.
  • adapting our regular Arts Grants programme (incorporating some of the Arts Continuity Grant processes that proved popular while also working to manage demand, such as quick processing and decision-making, but placing some limits on the number of applications)
  • offering some of the special opportunities suspended due to COVID-19
  • including the opportunity to apply for support for aspects of international activity through Arts Grants
  • continuing our support of the Creative Communities Scheme (administered by local councils).

1.13 Will you offer the Emergency Relief Grant (WINZ wage subsidy extension top-up)? (updated 24 September)

We have no plans to offer the Emergency Relief Grant for loss of income. We’re offering more opportunities as part of this next phase, in the area we’re the most uniquely placed to provide support: arts development. 

As an employer or as a sole trader, you may be eligible for:

  • COVID-19 Income Relief Payment for people who have lost their last job or self-employment from 1 March 2020 to 30 October 2020 (inclusive) because of the impacts of COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme (four-week payment) to cover those who can't go into work because they are in one of the affected groups (for example, have come into contact with someone with COVID-19 and must self-isolate), and Ministry of Health guidelines recommend they stay at home, and they can't work from home.

The Government is also offering a Small Business Cash Flow Loan through Inland Revenue (IRD) – extended through to 31 December 2020. Under this scheme, eligible organisations and small businesses (including contractors, sole traders and self-employed), may be eligible for a one-off loan if they have been adversely affected by COVID-19, including an interest-free period of one year if paid back within that year. Read more about the scheme on IRD’s website

You could also have a look at the website  a central hub with a section dedicated to the government’s COVID-19 response in relation to small businesses. You can sign-up for updates

1.14 There was huge demand for your Phase 1 funding. Are you expecting the same response to these opportunities?

We’ve prepared for high demand due to our recent experience. Demand for arts funding, particularly in the contestable grants space, has been intensifying for some time – well beyond our ability to meet all requests – and rose above all expectation earlier this year, with an unprecedented number of applications to the opportunities available through our Phase 1 COVID-19 Emergency Response Package.

We receive many more applications that meet our criteria than we are able to fund and a decline is not necessarily a reflection of the quality or value of an application. 

As mentioned in our announcements on 3 July and 10 July (both in our News section), even with the additional one-off funding boost this year, we won’t be able to satisfy all requests for support. So we’ve reviewed our processes to best manage demand – while also improving the experience for those applying. We’ve incorporated learnings and feedback from Phase 1, and are providing opportunities for support that remain efficient, effective and flexible, as well as sustainable for our organisation.

1.15 What’s happening with the international programme?

Due to the global impact of COVID-19, the majority of the international funding programmes are on hold for our current financial year (July 2020 to June 2021). However, funding is available through our Arts Grants programme to support New Zealand artists, arts practitioners, arts groups and arts organisations to engage in a variety of international activity, including the presentation of art works. Read more in our International activity guidelines

Our International Programme Review (started in August 2019) is also on hold, but we expect that the second phase consultation will recommence towards the end of the year. The outcomes will influence the design of the 2021/2022 programme. 

During 2020/2021 the International team will deliver a number of targeted initiatives to ensure our artists and arts practitioners remain engaged with international peers, platforms and audiences. This will include virtual market development engagement and capability building. 

Read more about the International programme

1.16 What happens if there is a return to a higher COVID-19 alert level? (added 13 August)

Our first priority will be to monitor any situation and position ourselves to respond quickly, with flexibility, so that we are able to further support the sector as required.

We’ve adjusted our 12-month investment programme (2020/2021) to ensure applications can be made consistent with the Government’s response to the changing COVID-19 environment.

While we hope any increased alert level will be temporary, we can’t rule out changing the 2020/2021 programme, including funding opportunities, to enable us to respond where the need is greatest.

We’ll also continue to comply with government advisories (including alert levels) and/or border controls and exercise our judgement regarding our programmes and funding opportunities. For this reason, when making funding decisions, we may decline a programme or project if it is not viable at the time of notification, regardless of when the project is planned to take place.

We’ll continue to provide regular information on our website and in social media so you can easily keep up to date with any changes.

2. Wrap-up of phase 1 Emergency Response Package

2.1 What happened with Phase 1?

Through our initial COVID-19 Emergency Response Package, which closed at the end of May, we  allocated $29 million to support artists, arts practitioners, arts groups and arts organisations suddenly impacted by COVID-19. The package attracted an unprecedented level of demand in terms of applications, depleting our financial reserves.

We announced final decisions for our Arts Continuity Grant and the Emergency Relief Grant on Friday, 10 July, and released decisions on Short-term Relief for Investment Clients on 29 July 2020. 

The Emergency Response Package was part of a total $76.5 million invested in the sector across the 2019/20 financial year, a massive 60 percent increase on the previous year’s investment (2018/19). We invested in Phase 1 from existing repurposed funds and an additional $17.5 million, drawn from and depleting our reserves, to manage the unprecedented demand.

In these past few months we’ve invested more than ever before, drawing heavily on our reserves because we saw the need.

2.2 Where can I find full results and more details?

2.3 Why are the Short-term Relief for Investment Clients funding amounts different for each organisation?

The Short-term Relief for Investment Clients fund was designed to meet the immediate financial needs of Investment Clients who were unable to stabilise their organisations by 30 June 2020, due to the impact of COVID-19. The amounts vary because the purpose of the fund was to provide the minimum amount needed to ensure an organisation could pay artists and arts practitioners and continue basic operations.

Each organisation has a very different business model and different ways of generating revenue, and the COVID-19 alert levels affected each organisation’s financial health in different ways. The funding amounts are not indicative of our confidence in the organisation or its work. Instead, each amount was determined based on how much was needed for the organisation to maintain short-term financial stability.

3. Wider Government investment in the arts

3.1 How does this fit with the Government’s $175m arts and music recovery package? Is it part of that?

This $25m investment is separate to the wider Government package.

In May, the Government announced that it would inject an additional $25 million into Creative New Zealand’s funding to support artists, arts practitioners, arts groups and arts organisations across the next two years. We’re excited to have this additional $25 million and we intend to invest the lion’s share in this programme as we know it will continue to be a very uncertain time for our arts community.

We continue to work with Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage and other government agencies to understand what role we can play in supporting other initiatives announced in late May, including the further $175 million for the Government’s wider arts and music recovery package, and funding for Mātauranga Māori and Pasifika Festivals. Keep up-to-date with the latest developments in this space by subscribing to email updates from Mānatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage (who is leading this mahi) – sign up on their website