News | 7 June 2016

Boost to arts and events will enliven Capital

The Capital is set to sing with confirmation in this year’s Annual Plan that $320,000 will fund an ongoing series of uniquely-Wellington, creatively-focused events in the CBD and an exciting arts sector activation programme to be delivered by Toi Pōneke Arts Centre.

Councillors agreed to the boost as part of Council’s budget round for 2016/17, enacting Year 2 of its Long-term Plan 2015–2025, at this week’s Governance, Finance and Planning Committee. Cr Ray Ahipene-Mercer, who leads the Arts Portfolio, says the extra funding will identify and strategically fill gaps in the Capital’s arts and events offerings.

“We’re putting some money where our creative mouth is, to showcase our absolutely edgy, world-class creativity and innovation to locals and visitors alike,” says Cr Ahipene-Mercer.

“We know that other cities are investing heavily in their arts offerings, we know how important our vibrant arts and culture sector is to our quality of life, and we know how essential this is to attracting talent to the Capital. We’re investing more in our arts and culture.

“This funding will help develop a year-round activation series focusing on the CBD, to ensure high impact and visibility. We’re also looking at ways to make the sector sustainable by providing opportunities for artists to connect with each other, improve their business and management skills, and realise exciting projects to their full potential. The possibilities are limitless, so let’s start thinking about them.”

Cr Ahipene-Mercer says the Council’s City Arts and Events team will talk with businesses, organisations and innovators who are keen to partner on the events.

“This is a good start but the reality is that it’s still a tight budget to create these programmes from scratch. There’s definitely a need to forge strong new partnerships and enhance the Capital’s creative eco-system. So let’s get talking, let’s get creating,” he says.

Mayor Wade-Brown says Cr Ahipene-Mercer, who is stepping down from Council at this year’s local government elections, has been a tireless advocate for arts and culture in the city

“There was strong support across the arts community for the proposals brought forward by Cr Ahipene-Mercer,” says Mayor Wade-Brown.

“The programme is an exciting prospect for the city with opportunities to partner with arts organisations, business, and the community to raise the visibility of arts and culture within the CBD,” she says. 

The budget for arts and cultural activities for the 2016/17 financial year is nearly $20m in operational expenditure and over $9m in capital expenditure. This is in addition to a funding lift in the Annual Plan for 2015/2016 which included an increase for the NZ Festival of $500k per year, NZ Ballet $120k per year, Circa Theatre $295k over the first three years of the Long Term Plan, and an increase of $80k per year for Orchestra Wellington for overall funding of $270k per annum. 

The activation series joins a range of new initiatives recommended to the full Council on 29 June. The rates increase is recommended to remain within the target of 3.6 percent.

Council will meet 29 June to finalise the Annual Plan 2016/17 and set the rates and budget for the next financial year, beginning 1 July.